EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 17, 2013

Where's the blood and guts?

Maybe good, hard-nosed hockey will have to do in this matchup

Bill Burt
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BOSTON — About 17,700 of us attended a good old-fashioned Boston-New York, Original Six, no-holds-barred, shoe-smacking, blood bath here last night.

And a January game against Columbus Blue Jackets broke out.

OK, it wasn’t that bad. Heck, any time you get an overtime, better yet a dominating overtime win by the Bruins, 3-2, you chalk it up as a big day. But it also wasn’t anywhere near the fight-for-every-playoff-inch we expected from these two alleged physical and proud franchises.

Maybe it was one of those typical first rounds at a prize fight. A bunch of ducks and dekes, a few counter-punches and zero haymakers.

It was remarkable. Pucks were smothered by both goalies and everybody basically held hands in front of the net, praying for good health. There was no pushing and no shoving. It reminded me of a beer league game on Wednesday nights.

If a Toronto Maple Leaf was within five feet of Tuukka Rask, a jab was delivered.

Where was the beef?

“Both teams are coming off a Game 7 win,” said Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman. “It really was a tight game between two tough teams. The game did pick up.”

Well, yes, it did finally pick up ... in overtime. At least it did in the end where Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist manned the net. The Bruins got a power play just 2:20 into overtime when Derek Dorsett was called for interference. The Bruins ran off seven shots on goal, each one better than the other (including one off the post), as the Rangers defenders went into a shell in front of Lundqvist and let the Bruins own most of those 2 minutes.

“They gained a lot of momentum on that power play (in OT),” said Rangers forward Ryan Callahan.

The Bruins got off eight more shots (16 overall in 15:40), with the last one, a tip-in by Brad Marchand off a centering pass by Mr. Overtime, Patrice Bergeron, through Lundqvist’s legs.

“It was pretty much even until overtime,” said Rangers coach John Tortorella. “We got spanked in overtime.”

Where does this series go from here?

Will there be blood? Will there be a brawl or two? Will there be a Tortorella moment when he calls out Claude Julien, Milan Lucic or Marchand?

Will there be good old-fashioned sports hate (with hugs, of course, later)?

“It’s only one game. Things usually develop as the series goes on,” said Callahan. “Things just happen. It’s a tight game out there.”

Marchand, who has pretty much transformed overnight into the catalyst he has been for most of his three years here, wasn’t so sure about the bar room brawls people are expecting.

“This is the kind of game we expected,” said Marchand. “I’m not so sure we’re both overly physical teams. We’re strong with the puck. They are, too. The teams are similar. There just aren’t a lot of opportunities for body checks (like there were against the Leafs).”

This series has a lot of interesting paths. With no-names Torey Krug (one goal) and Matt Bartkowski filling in for the foreseeable future on defense, the odds are breakdowns are coming.

And I can see Lucic squaring off at some point with Dorchester’s own Brian Boyle (6-foot-7), even if its for giving the other guy the business.

Whatever the case, the New York-Boston “thing” we like to employ any time the two cities meet doesn’t appear to be an issue. But four, five or even six more games like last night will more than make up for a lack of blood.

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Email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com

Boston vs. N.Y. Rangers Game 1: Boston 3, N.Y. Rangers 2 (OT) Sunday, May 19: N.Y. Rangers at Boston, 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 21: Boston at N.Y. Rangers, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23: Boston at N.Y. Rangers, 7 p.m. x-Saturday, May 25: N.Y. Rangers at Boston TBD x-Monday, May 27: Boston at N.Y. Rangers, TBD x-Wednesday, May 29: N.Y. Rangers at Boston, TBD