BUFFALO Here are five thoughts from the first period with the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres locked in a scoreless 0-0 tie after the first 20 minutes of action at the First Niagara Center.
1) Claude Julien playing a cat-and-mouse game with the Buffalo Sabres while making it appear that Brad Marchand wouldnt play on Sunday night, and then plugging him into the lineup at the last minute. Marchand end up skating on the left wing along with Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton while Jamie Tardif was a scratch after it appeared hed be on the third line with Chris Kelly and Chris Bourque. Instead Rich Peverley ended back with his normal linemates.
2) Good bout between Gregory Campbell and Patrick Kaleta in the middle of the first period with Campbell going after the Buffalo scrapper when he lined up Dennis Seidenberg for a hit. Campbell threw a couple of shots, and then absorbed more than a few once Kaleta got swinging. Campbell lost the bout and ended up getting slapped with a two-minute minor and 10-minute misconduct for instigating along with the five-minute fighting major.
3) Good goaltending from both Ryan Miller and Anton Khudobin. Miller made a great stop on Zdeno Chara early in the game and then stood tall for a series of shots when the Patrice Bergeron line pinned the fourth line in the defensive end. Miller stopped a couple of blasts and tips from Bergeron, but lucked out when Nathan Horton fanned on a sweet backhanded pass to the slot from Bergeron. Five shots attempted for the Bergeron line with both of Hortons attempts having been blocked by the Sabres. Sixteen shots total for Boston in the first period, which is among their highest one-period totals of the season.
4) Kaleta has three hits in the first period despite missing five minutes with the fight and is doing his agitating best while Cody McCormick has three shots on net for Buffalo. Their pests are doing their job tonight while Steve Ott hasnt really got his act going yet with six minutes of ice time in the first period.
5) Two shots on net for Daniel Paille in the first period as he looks like hes jumping right back in after missing more than a week. Shawn Thornton and John Scott found themselves wrapped up in a scrum near the Boston net, but I wouldnt expect anything out of those two combatants unless something goes crazy tonight in the next two periods.
The longer that the Bruins can hang around in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the greater the chances they can enter some healthy bodies back into the equation.
Just a couple of weeks after Torey Krug went down with a lower body injury that had him in a knee brace and crutches leaving the TD Garden, the Bruins top puck-moving defenseman began his road back to recovery with some skating on the ice. It wasn’t part of a full practice as the Bruins had the day off the ice following their epic Friday night double-overtime Game 5 win over the Ottawa Senators, but it was still encouraging to see Krug make forward progress.
“He started that process of his rehab, so he’s on the ice,” said Bruce Cassidy of Krug, who has missed all five of the games in the first round playoff series thus far. “I don’t believe Carlo was on the ice today.”
It was clear Krug was making progress when he traveled with the rest of the Bruins to Ottawa for Friday night’s Game 5, and now one has to wonder if he can somehow be a factor at the end of this first round series against the Senators. Obviously a return for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon would be out of the question given that he hasn’t even practiced with the team, but one has to wonder if a possible Game 7 could happen given that the game wouldn’t be played until Wednesday night in Ottawa.
While the Bruins have survived without Krug in the lineup, he could have a major impact on Boston’s ability to swiftly move through the 1-3-1 trap and execute some of the stretch passes and transition plays that Ottawa has been successfully throwing at the Bruins throughout the series. Krug could also make an impact on the Bruins power play that’s been down (2-for-14 for a 14.3 percent success rate) in the postseason from their potency during the regular season.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while feeling like I’m in a playoff series now after that double-overtime classic in Ottawa. Things are starting to simmer to a boil between these two teams.
*Only during this spring’s playoffs could you have an Edmonton TV reporter have his live shot interrupted by Edmontonians going nuts with a game-winning goal.
*Tom Wilson is an unlikely playoff hero for the Washington Capitals and he’s a pretty unlikely hockey hero in general given the way he plays most nights.
*Hockey Dart Guy has apparently become a thing in Canada where this massive Maple Leafs fan speaks for an entire nation.
*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Nazem Kadri defending his low hit on Alex Ovechkin in a heated Leafs/Capitals playoff series.
*Some fun candid stuff during the playoffs with players mic'd up in games, including Charlie McAvoy’s communication skills, courtesy of Rogers SportsNet.
*Bob McKenzie says that Erik Karlsson is the best defenseman in the NHL and that it’s not even close. I’d have to agree, though I did see some signs of wear and tear on the Swedish D-man for the first time in the series in Game 5.
*For something different: This WWE wrestler getting all jacked up opening his Funko Star Wars figures is pretty hilarious.