The Boston Bruins made their presence known in Game Three, scoring eight goals in the final two periods and forcing their home crowd into a feeding frenzy. With Game Four imminent, can the Bruins turn in a repeat performance? Or will the Vancouver Canucks head home with a dominant series lead, only one win away from their first ever Stanley Cup?
Did Boston Solve Their Special Team Woes?
Boston's total postseason special teams goals prior to Game Three: 7
Boston's special teams goals scored during Game Three: 4
Does this sudden outburst signal an end to the Bruins' hapless power play, their greatest weakness in this postseason? Or was this more likely a one game fluke by a proud team defending their home ice after their star offensive forward was knocked out for the remainder of the postseason? There's been no doubt that Boston has played extremely hard in the Finals; but can they continue playing with the energy and dominant passion that we saw in Game Three? This may end up being the most important question left -- if Boston can fight with that ferocity for the remainder of the series, they have an excellent shot at taking the Cup home this season.
Will Vancouver Show Up?
Aaron Rome has claimed he did not intentionally mean to injure Bruins forward Nathan Horton with his brutally late, blindside hit. There's no way of proving intent, but Rome's ejection and subsequent suspension for the remainder of the series has now become the key factor for the rest of the Finals. Before Rome leveled Horton, Game Three was fast and engaging, but the Canucks were getting more consistent pressure on Thomas. They had the early advantage and likely could have taken a 3-0 lead in the series.
Instead, the Bruins completely decimated the Canucks with a barrage of physical play and endless energy. Vancouver shrunk from the moment and allowed themselves to be embarrassed in the championship round. For a team that has shown great tenacity and strength of will this postseason, it's a troubling sign from the Canucks. Granted, Luongo isn't likely to give up eight goals every game. He's not likely to give up four goals in a period, either. But the concern lies with the lack of effort displayed by Vancouver during the last two periods of Game Three. Instead of accepting the challenge and raising their game, they played like they wanted to get off the ice.
Does Boston Have Enough Offense Left?
Let's imagine that the Rome/Horton collision marked a sea change in this Finals, and that the Bruins have found a new level of play for the remainder of the series. The question still remains; where is their offense going to come from? Horton was easily their best postseason player, and now he's out for the rest of the season. David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand are the Bruins' best remaining offensive players, and there is very little depth behind them. Chris Kelly? Michael Ryder? Mark Recchi? These are all playoff tested veterans, but to count on significant offensive contributions from them is a very risky endeavor.
Sadly, it appears that the Canucks may win their first Stanley Cup because of a dirty hit.
The Bruins did their best to disprove that theory with the Game Three massacre, but their depth is being severely tested now. The adrenaline and pride gave them an extra edge for a single game, but there's a reason that the Cup is decided in a seven game series. The talent gap between these two teams has widened considerably, and talent usually wins out.