• SHARE:
  • email
  • Bookmark and Share

THN.com Playoff Blog: Zdeno Chara turns the tide in Boston-Buffalo series

Boston's 5-3 win in Game 2 had a lot to do with Zdeno Chara and his two goals. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Zoom Image

Boston's 5-3 win in Game 2 had a lot to do with Zdeno Chara and his two goals. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Buffalo Sabres were winning the battle of big through four periods of their first round series with the Boston Bruins.

But that’s all changed now.

Boston’s 5-3 win in Game 2 means they’ll head home for Game 3 locked 1-1 with the Sabres.

The Bruins got the big ‘V’ in large part because of ‘Big Z.’ Boston captain Zdeno Chara’s two-goal performance turned the tide in one of two blatant individual battles the series features. Both teams have bluelines anchored by absolutely hulking No. 1 defensemen and through one game and one period of Game 2, 6-foot-7, 204-pound Tyler Myers was a more positive presence than the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Chara.

Myers opened the scoring for Buffalo in Game 2 and seemed like he was always lurking in the weeds in the offensive zone. Meanwhile, Chara was getting walked by Derek Roy and, like the rest of his team, just generally not doing enough to convince anyone he was serious about stifling the Sabres.

But Chara staked his claim to the series in a major way over the final 40 minutes of Game 2, which is bad news for Buffalo. Boston is in desperate need of whatever offense it can scare up, so obviously Chara’s pair was aces for his club. More than that, Chara and Co. locked it down defensively after falling behind 2-0 in the first, the only other Buffalo goal coming on a fluky turnover by Milan Lucic.

Chara should be better than Myers; he’s 13 years older and the undisputed leader of his team, while Myers, despite his accelerated development, is still a rookie finding his way in the league. This is a showdown Boston has to have on its side of the ledger to have any chance to win this series and Chara took big strides (does he take any other kind?) toward swinging that matchup back in his team’s favor.

Goaltending is the other obviously crucial point of comparison in this duel and young Tuukka Rask one-upped Ryan Miller by not allowing his team to fall behind further when it was 2-0 Buffalo and by stoning Mike Grier on a breakaway late in the third after Miller had allowed two goals to let Boston seize the lead.

One final point of intrigue: The Sabres played most of the game without red-hot Thomas Vanek after he was spilled by Johnny Boychuk in the first period and sustained a lower-body injury when he went piling into the end boards.

Related Links

Maybe the thud awakened the good side of Michael Ryder’s all-or-nothing game because he went out and got a pair of goals after that.

B’s supporters have to be hoping this is the start of a run like Ryder had last year, when he bagged five goals in four contests between Game 2 of Boston’s first round win over Montreal and Game 1 of its second round series against Carolina. Ryder does things that make coaches shudder, but he remains a born shooter and if he gets hot, it figures to factor prominently into a battle between two teams that don’t overwhelm anybody offensively.

And that divide will be more pronounced if Vanek is out for any stretch of time.

THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.

Feeling Lucky? Subscribe or renew your subscription to The Hockey News and you and a guest could be going to the NHL Awards in Las Vegas!

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
 

Blackberry

More Stories

Dixon: 20 burning Stanley Cup playoff questions

In this line of work, the questions come fast and furious this time of year. More specifically...

THN.com Blog: Stan Smyl knows Canucks must make most of Stanley Cup run

Stan Smyl pauses to draw a deep breath before answering the question and you’re not sure...

THN.com Blog: Diminutive Nathan Gerbe plays big for Buffalo Sabres

The good news for Nathan Gerbe is if and when he ever reaches his short-joke saturation point,...

THN.com Blog: Guy Boucher goes for broke with Tampa Bay

Guy Boucher needs room to operate even when he’s giving a post-game talk to reporters, so...
blog comments powered by Disqus

THN on Twitter

Who do you think is the best team in the NHL right now?




Contests

Our Partners