David Krejci finally arrived on the playoff scene on Saturday, scoring two goals and assisting on two others as Boston rolled to a 7-3 win over Philadelphia in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Wells Fargo Center. Brad Marchand also had a pair of goals while Nathan Horton added a goal and an assist, and Tim Thomas made 31 saves to stifle the Flyers.
Looking back at the keys to Game 1, the Bruins hit on two of the three. Boston definitely put pressure on Brian Boucher right from the start, getting bodies in front of the Philadelphia goalie and putting shots low on the ice to create rebounds, which Boucher kicked right back out to the slot. Second, the Bruins got contributions from Krejci, Milan and Lucic, both of whom were awful in the Montreal series. The Bruins still haven’t scored on the power play, going 0-for-5 on Saturday and are now 0-for-26 for the playoffs.
Game 2 should be a very different game. The Flyers are almost assuredly going to play better and try to shore up the front of the net, an area in which the Boston forwards dominated. Boucher should bounce back, as he has done virtually every other team he has been shelled in the past, and expect Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Danny Briere, and Daniel Carcillo to all be better than they were in Game 1.
“Nobody feels good about what happened,” Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette told The Boston Herald. “But because you didn’t do what you wanted in Game 1, it’s not an indication of Game 2 … Each game in a series is a chapter of its own and (Game 1) was not a good chapter for us. It’s one game. It wasn’t good. We’ve got to win a game (tonight) and even the series up.”
What Boston needs to do to win …
1. Be aggressive on the PK: Boston did a great job killing penalties on Saturday, killing 4-0f-5 and scoring moments after killing off back-to-back penalties in the second. Krejci’s second goal made it 4-1.
“I liked the job our penalty killers did,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “Not only did they do a good job in our own end, we controlled the puck pretty well when we had it. Whenever we had the opportunity, those guys made sure they made it all the way down the ice.’’
2. Put pressure on the goalie: The Bruins did this well in Game 1, and need to continue to do it in Game 2. Keep putting traffic in front of Brian Boucher, disturbing him and making life in the crease as uncomfortable as possible. It was clear on Saturday Boucher did not enjoy the constant Bruins’ sweater in his face.
3. Get production from the third line: At some point, Philadelphia will figure out how to match the Krejci-Horton-Lucic line, which means the Bruins will need production from the trio of Rich Peverely, Chris Kelly, and Michael Ryder. The speedy trio was key against Montreal and will need to use their speed to get by the much bigger Philadelphia defensemen.
What Philadelphia needs to do to win …
1. Get better goaltending: Saying Boucher struggled is a bit of an understatement, as he kicked out juicy rebound after juicy rebound. He looked uncomfortable all afternoon long (well at least until he got yanked), and his replacement, Sergei Bobrovsky, looked no more at ease in the crease.
2. Play better in its own end: As bad as the Flyers’ goalies were, the defense was not much better. They were unable to clear the front of the net or tie up their men in front, leading to second chances and rebound goals. The Flyers also did not block enough shots – a must against the Bruins.
3. Get some timely scoring: The Flyers had chances to get back in the game with back-to-back power plays in the second period. However, Tim Thomas turned aside chance after chance, and Krejci scored right after the second power play to make it 4-1. Even at 5-3, the Flyers immediately gave up Marchand’s goal to ice the game.
Boston Playoff Leaders
Goals: Nathan Horton 4
Assists: Patrice Bergeron 8
Points: Bergeron 10
Plus/Minus: Brad Marchand (plus-8)
Ice time: Zdeno Chara 28:42
Shots: Bergeron 30
Blocks: Dennis Seidenberg 21
Hits: Bergeron 25
Philadelphia Playoff Leaders
Goals: Danny Briere 7
Assists: Claude Giroux 10
Points: Giroux 11
Plus/Minus: Kimmo Timonen (plus-8)
Ice time: Andrej Meszaros 25:04
Shots: James van Riemsdyk 51
Blocks: Matt Carle 18
Hits: Giroux 22
Prediction: Philadelphia needs to play better than it did in Game 1, and I think the Flyers will be better. The question is will they be good enough? Boston is playing with confidence and has won five of its last six games. I like to take the more desperate team in games like this, and there is no question that the Flyers are the more desperate team, as losing the first two games at home is never good. Philly, 4-3 in overtime.