Bruins wake up, take out hapless Rangers 2-1

Rangers1.jpgThe Boston Bruins failed to wake up for the game against the
Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, when everyone in the hockey world was
certain they would try and decapitate every player on the other side of
the ice. Three days later, there’s no question they wanted the win more
than the New York Rangers.

A loss today and the Bruins could have
found themselves in a dire situation in the standings, barely holding on
to a one-point lead over the Rangers and Atlanta Thrashers. Failing to
actually show a care factor would prove disastrous, especially as they
face a fanbase that is threatening to boycott a team they feel is not
putting forth a suitable effort from game to game.

It was an
overall sharp effort by the Bruins, who did what needed to be done to
win a low-scoring affair. They didn’t make many mistakes, played hard on
the forecheck and Tuukka Rask was just as good as he’s been all season
long.

With an all-important two points, the Bruins can hold
off the questions — for now. There’s still a long way to go and winning
just one game is far from ensuring a playoff spot. Yet the Bruins find
themselves in much better position than the the New York Rangers are in,
who once again looked disinterested in even competing until about 54
minutes into the game.

The New York Rangers are done. They’ve
given up, and I’ll be incredibly surprised if they find a way into the
playoffs from here. They now sit five points back from the Bruins, with
the Atlanta Thrashers are planted between them and the 8th spot. If they
couldn’t muster a concerted effort in this game, I’m doubtful they’ll
be able to figure it out moving forward.

That isn’t to say the
Rangers were completely dominated, they were just slightly more inept
than the Boston Bruins in this game. The Bruins also showed more fight
and attitude than the Rangers — which gave New York some lengthy time
on the power play — and if not for a number of great saves by Henrik
Lundqvist then the Bruins would have easily had a 2-0 lead headed into
the first intermission.

There isn’t much else to say about this
Rangers team that I haven’t already said this weekend, other than this
is not a team that deserves a playoff berth. We can leave the debate
about the coaching for another day, but this is a team that is lacking in
talent and not even a pretty good game by captain Chris Drury could save
them.

Sean Avery was a non-factor and Marian Gaborik — despite
four shots on goal — was a non-factor. I won’t even get into the
boneheaded play by Vinny Prospal; I’m tired of writing about illegal
hits.

No time to rest for Boston; they will take on the Atlanta
Thrashers on Tuesday in another showdown to hold on to the 8th spot in
the East.

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    Full Schedule: 2018 Stanley Cup Final

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    The 2018 Stanley Cup Final matchup is set and it will be the Washington Capitals against the Vegas Golden Knights.

    So many different storylines to consider. George McPhee vs. his old team. Alex Ovechkin going for his first ever Cup ring. Former Penguin Marc-Andre Fleury against the Capitals. And the obvious one with the Golden Knights and their inaugural season success. It should be a fun one.

    Here’s the full schedule:

    Game 1 Monday, May 28 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 2 Wednesday, May 30 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
    Game 3 Saturday, June 2 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
    Game 4 Monday, June 4 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 5* Thursday, June 7 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 6* Sunday, June 10 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 7* Wednesday, June 13 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    * = If necessary

    MORE:
    NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    Ovechkin, Capitals headed to Stanley Cup Final after Game 7 triumph

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    Alex Ovechkin will get his chance.

    The Great 8 will contest for the Stanley Cup after his Washington Capitals defeated their past demons and the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final on Wednesday.

    Yes, the Capitals — a team that had to overcome a horrific playoff record against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round and then had to deal the disappointment of beginning the Conference Final with wins in Games 1 and 2 only to drop three straight to trail 3-2.

    They took care of business in Game 6, and that train kept chugging along into Game 7.

    Ovi put his stamp on Game 7 just 62 seconds in as he wired a one-timer past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

    The first period was a wild affair, filled with scuffles, a fight and stolen jersey.

    And then Andre Burakovsky arrived.

    Burakovsky missed the first 12 games of the plays because of injury and then followed that up with seven games without a point.

    He revealed earlier in the series that he lays a mental beating on himself too often. So Game 7 must have felt pretty good.

    Burakovsky scored on two separate breakaways in the second period.

    The first came off a brutal giveaway from Dan Girardi in his own zone. His second came after the Lightning got caught on a bad change.

    Tampa looked like a shell of their former selves. They dusted themselves off after dropping the first two at home, but simply stopped scoring after the 33-second mark in the second period of Game 5.

    [PHT’s Three Stars]

    Braden Holtby showed up at precisely the right moment in the series, posting consecutive shutouts to close out the series.

    Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, meanwhile, were far from brilliant. No one over the last seven periods and change was on the Lightning.

    The Lightning went 159:33 without scoring. Ouch.

    You can’t win games when you don’t score, something the Lightning will have all summer to ponder. They led the NHL with 296 goals this season, all of which means sweet nothing now.

    And now the attention turns to one of the more intriguing Cup Finals in a long time.

    One of the greatest players of all-time with a chance to win his first Cup silence his critics after years of disappointment against the best story in sports, period.

    Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final begins Monday, May 28 at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

    In the words of Bart Scott, “Can’t wait.”

    MORE:
    NHL Playoffs 2018: Stanley Cup Final TV Schedule

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    PHT’s Three Stars: Burakovsky’s goals push Capitals into Stanley Cup Final

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    1st Star: Andre Burakovsky, Washington Capitals

    After being benched earlier in the series, Burakovsky responded in a big way in Game 7 scoring twice as the Capitals moved on to the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    2nd Star: Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

    Holtby finished the Eastern Conference Final in a strong way, posting a second straight shutout while making 29 saves. The Capitals netminder has not allowed a goal since 33 seconds into the second period of Game 5.

    3rd Star: Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

    The captain only needed 62 seconds to open the scoring and quiet the AMALIE Arena crowd.

    [Ovechkin, Capitals headed to Stanley Cup Final after Game 7 triumph]

    Highlight of the Night:

    A wild first period included a tilt between Tom Wilson and Braydon Coburn:

    Factoid of the Night:

    Stanley Cup Final schedule
    Game 1 Monday, May 28 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 2 Wednesday, May 30 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
    Game 3 Saturday, June 2 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
    Game 4 Monday, June 4 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 5* Thursday, June 7 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 6* Sunday, June 10 – Golden Knights at Capitals, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    Game 7* Wednesday, June 13 – Capitals at Golden Knights, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
    * = If necessary

    ————

    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

    Brooks Orpik leaves Game 7 after Paquette’s hit from behind

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    While the Washington Capitals built up a lead in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning Wednesday, they lost two players before the end of the second period.

    First, Devante Smith-Pelly blocked a Ryan McDonagh shot with the back of his neck in the first period. After returning to the game, he would leave the Capitals’ bench late in the second period.

    Joining him would be Orpik, who took a big hit from behind along the boards from Lightning forward Cedric Paquette. As Orpik was being tended to, the officials got together and determined that there would no penalty on the play, which is an odd decision.

    As Orpik goes to get the puck in the corner, he does peek over his shoulder and sees Paquette a ways away, but he doesn’t change his body position as Paquette drills him. He’s probably not expecting to get hit even with the Lightning forward in the area. That would have easily been at least a major, maybe even a game misconduct (Remember Steve Bernier?).

    The Capitals would respond to the hit two minutes later. On the scoreboard. Andre Burakovsky potted his second goal of the night to give Washington a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the third period.

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    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.