Haggerty: B's prove they've got the right plan

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Haggerty: B's prove they've got the right plan

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

VANCOUVER Its a sobering dose of reality when a team plays the game according to the exact blueprint it's mapped out for itself to win a playoff series . . . and then loses.

Or is it?

The Canucks got the only goal, and the last laugh, in the closing 18 seconds and captured Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, 1-0, Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

Still, the Bruins checked off many of the things they hoped to achieve against the seemingly invincible Canucks.

I think we played a real good road game, to be honest with you. To be in the situation we were after two periods" -- a 0-0 tie -- "I didn't mind it, especially against this hockey club, said coach Claude Julien. I thought our penalty kill did a great job against their power-play. Timmy Thomas made the big saves when he had to. For two periods I was pretty pleased.

Obviously, in the third period they were the better team and they ended up scoring that goal. It got away from us, but we still got an opportunity here in the next game to hopefully get . . . the home-ice advantage.

Thomas had a magnificent game and gave Vancouver something to think about over the course of the next few days.

He finished with 33 saves and was at his athletic best in the first period when the Canucks sent a flurry of shots his way. He impressed again in the third period when he made 13 stops as Vancouver carried the play in Bostons zone.

And that -- outstanding goaltending from Thomas -- is part of the B's blueprint for the series.

Canucks players were getting behind the Bruins defensive layers, but Thomas stoned Jannik Hansen cold on a breakaway and turned away Maxim Lapierres quick redirect from the slot.

Thomas also had some good fortune, of course. Alex Edler rang the crossbar on a shot fired from the high slot area that rocketed past the goalie's shoulders on its way to smacking the pipe.

But all crossbars aside, Thomas had the Canucks shaking their heads and murmuring to themselves more than a little bit headed into the final minutes of the third period.

Thats exactly where the Bs need to have Vancouver's heads -- simultaneously amazed and frustrated -- if theyre going to bring the Cup back to Boston.

Thomas' performance in Game 1 is a good indication that it can be done. After all, if Thomas and the Bs can hold back the mighty Canucks offense for 59-plus minutes of an adrenaline-juiced playoff game once, they can certainly do it again.

The Bruins need their goaltender to again be the superhuman force he was on Wednesday night, and theyll need even more of the gutsy play around him in their own zone.

But was more than just Thomas on Wednesday night:

Containing the Sedin twins and holding the rugged Ryan Kesler off the board was the result of pure Bruins hockey for the better part of three periods.

The Bruins handed Vancouver six man advantages in Game 1, but somehow kept the Canucks' vaunted power play off the board. Dan Hamhuis and Sami Salo were able to fire away from the point positions, but there wasnt much there for the Sedin twins or Kesler once the game turned to special teams.

Most surprisingly (and something the Bruins may not have planned for), the Canucks were willing to mix it up and engage in plenty of scrums after whistles. They were happy to poke the bear in the cage, just as they did against the Blackhawks and Sharks in earlier rounds.

Hamhuis upended Milan Lucic with a hip check in front of the benches in the second period that sent Lucics legs square over his head. It was a signature hit during an intense playoff game, but it also resulted in the Vancouver defenseman limping off the ice in pain, never to return.

Lucic and Kevin Bieksa tangled in front of the net on several occasions, and Alexandre Burrows even somehow enraged the normally serene Patrice Bergeron by biting through his glove and bloodying the centers finger.

Though they didn't expect it, the Bruins took Vancouver's grit as a good sign of things, since they like that kind of scrappy game.

Theyre a good team and so are we, said Bruinsdefenseman Johnny Boychuk. It was more physical than we expected, butthats our style of hockey. Its fine.

The Bruins demonstrated they could hang with the Canucks, and they proved they're capable of beating them. Now they have to prove they can actually do it.

We played hard. All you guys in the media are doubting us and I think we showed today that we could play with the Canucks, said Milan Lucic. We worked hard. We played hard. But in order to get a win in this building were going to have to work a little harder.

Weve watched them play as many games as we could. Theyve always played a physical game. Just look at the last series against San Jose. They went right after Douglas Murray, and Joe Thornton and Ryan Clowe and all those guys. We knew it would be the same, and its going to be a hard-fought series.

Theres no doubt its going to be a hard-fought series after witnessing how things went down in Game 1.

The question now becomes: Can the Bruins be better?

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Saturday, July 30: Colorado's Tyson Barrie could become available

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Saturday, July 30: Colorado's Tyson Barrie could become available

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while knowing that “Saturdays are for the boys” no longer exists once you are married with kids…except during glorious bachelor party weekends, which are few and far between.

*Congrats to Patrick Williams, who was named the Ellery Award winner for his great coverage of all things at the AHL level. Well deserved, Pat! 

*A really moving, heartbreaking and also life-affirming tribute from Bobby Ryan to his recently-passed mother after his childhood experience really forged a bond. 

*The Tyson Barrie/Colorado Avalanche arbitration case has a chance to get messy, and that may be a very good thing for teams hoping a D-man suddenly becomes available

*Some great stories about the hockey movies made over the last 30 years including Sudden Death, Mystery Alaska and Slap Shot. 

*Kudos to Gabriel Landeskog, who has joined an organization attempting to advise athletes on recovery from concussions after his scary experiences

*The focus of P.K. Subban’s philanthropy is on the kids, a thing made abundantly clear by his generous pledge to raise $10 million from a Montreal children’s hospital. 

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Josh Cooper over at Yahoo! Sports on Murray Craven as a bit of an “Everything Man” for the new Las Vegas expansion franchise. 

*For something completely different: what a great American and Patriot looks like, even if the Republicans and Trump don’t seem to think so.

Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

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Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while using “malarkey” in my day-to-day vocabulary as much as possible. 
 
-- Dale Tallon was promoted with the Florida Panthers to accentuate his strengths as a talent evaluator, but maintains that he still has final say on hockey decisions
 
-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has another young D-man off the board with the Wild’s Matthew Dumba signing a two year, $5.1 million deal with Minnesota
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my take on the negotiations between Brad Marchand and the Bruins: There’s a couple of good signs at the outset of negotiations
 
-- The Arizona Coyotes are stressing the defensive side of things in a big, big way, and it appears to be part of John Chayka’s master plan

 -- Alex Pietrangelo would be a natural selection to replace David Backes as the next captain of the St. Louis Blues. 

-- A moving letter from Sens forward Bobby Ryan to his recently passed mother is up at the Players Tribune website. 

-- Chris Kreider has re-signed with the New York Rangers, and plans to get out of his head and onto the score sheet more often. 
 
-- For something completely different: Jerod Mayo will bring a new voice to Tom E. Curran’s Quick Slants program on our very own CSN network.