BOSTON — You could see the frustration in the eyes of the Chicago Blackhawks and on the face of Boston’s Brad Marchand.
That’s because, with 11.9 left on the clock last night and the Bruins on their way to a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, a clearly discouraged Chicago squad that had just suffered through its sixth straight period of disappointing hockey turned to what so many teams do.
The Blackhawks became dirty, and the sequence ended with Marchand pinned to the ice and Chicago’s Andrew Shaw taking a couple stiff jabs at the B’s Bruins resident pest’s famous prominent nose.
It was only a matter of time until the frustration began to show for the Blackhawks, who struggled to generate any legitimate chances last night against a Bruins team that simply looked bigger, faster and stronger on the way to a 2-0 victory.
“It’s just frustrating man,” said Chicago defenseman and assistant captain Duncan Keith. “Every time it seemed like we should have had a scoring chance it seemed like the puck was getting blocked or something else happened. We need to find a way.”
The stat sheet may have said that the shot advantage was only 35-28 in favor of the Bruins, but anyone watching the game knows those numbers are exceedingly misleading.
Chicago rarely even threatened to score. Of those 28 shots, just a hand-full were even decent scoring chances, while the Bruins regularly peppered tough shots on Hawks goalie Corey Crawford.
Make no mistake. Tuukka Rask was great, but he did not steal this game. The Bruins were in control.
Led by a rock-solid defense, and Rask continuing to shine bright, the series began to take on a similar look to the way the Bruins simply smothered the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“They took it to us at times and there were times we took it to them,” said Chicago winger Michael Frolik. “But when they got chances they found a way to take advantage and we couldn’t find a way.”
It should not come as much of a surprise that the B’s stymied the Blackhawks. After all, once Chicago took a 1-0 lead in a dominant first period in Game 2, Boston kept the Hawks off the board for the next three periods in that game (second, third and OT) just as they did yesterday.
Chicago was never worse than on the power play, which is earning a reputation for its intense ineffectiveness. The Blackhawks did not manage a single shot in their first three opportunities with the man advantage, and, even worse, the puck spent most of that time in the Bruins’ offensive zone.
“Our power play was NOT GOOD,” said coach Joel Quenneville. “Our faceoffs were not good. We were pressing and it’s hard to win that way. Worse, we made it easy on Rask because we weren’t creating any traffic in front.”
While the Blackhawks tried to deny that their heads were down, the numbers — such as that big guns Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have combined for just one assist — were clearly nagging the squad.
“It’s annoying talking about the numbers all the time,” said forward Patrick Sharp. “This is the Stanley Cup Finals. We don’t think it’s psychological ... we have chances. We just have to find a way to score.”
The Blackhaws weren’t the only ones feeling the heat last night.
Bruins forward Tyler Seguin also showed signs of frustration as he was once again held without a goal, giving him just one for the playoffs.
He was so annoyed, he could be seen biting his stick late in the third period.
“Yeah, I don’t know what I was doing there,” said Seguin. “I had a few chances. On that one play, Looch (Milan Lucic) made a great pass, I just couldn’t see it through the guy’s legs and then (Brent) Seabrook came down on the cross. That’s playoff hockey. Maybe in the regular season there’s not a D-man blocking that.”
Seguin did record his sixth assist of the playoffs on Daniel Paille’s goal.
Never lose touch
Jaromir Jagr’s amazing pass across the crease that set up Bergeron’s goal that gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead in the second showed the instincts and touch that made him a Hall of Fame player during his Pittsburgh days.
“That was just a great, hard pass,” said Bergeron. “It shows what kind of a player he has been and can be.”
The Blackhawks were short-handed last night without winger Marian Hossa, who was tied for the team lead with 15 postseason points.
Hossa, in fact, injured his shoulder in warm-ups taking a shot. No further details on how he hurt himself before the game started.
That pregame bad luck could have also gone the Bruins’ way too.
Word circulated through the TD Garden before the game that captain Zdeno Chara had collided with Milan Lucic before the game and had to leave the ice.
After some early panic, Chara was of course in the starting lineup and played throughout the game.
They must see something
The Bruins have apparently found a hole in Chicago goalie Corey Crawford’s game.
Daniel Paille’s second-period go-ahead tally was the fifth time in the Stanley Cup Final the B’s had beaten Crawford high glove side. In fact, five of their first six goals in the Final came in that style.
The days of former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis owning the “YOOOOOOOK” cheer is long over.
When you hear it now, it’s TOOOOOOOK for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Watch the B
A sportswriter who is more of a regular at the Celtics and Patriots pulled a major media goof after the game last night when he nearly stepped on the logo in the center of the Bruins’ locker room, a major no-no in hockey circles.
Said reporter was justifiably scolded by a locker room attendant.
(Embarrassing admission: That reporter was me.)