Last year during the Bruins historic playoff run, the players would award the MVP of the game with a 1980's style Starter Jacket which would then be passed on the next game. This year, the token was a little more different, and a little bit shinier.
The Bruins finished their first game of the playoffs with a 1-0 win over the Washington Capitals in overtime, courtesy of a slapshot from Chris Kelly early into the extra frame. As the Number One star of the game, and the proclaimed MVP of the night, Kelly earned a gigantic 20-link silver chain, that symbolizes the strength of the team, and "no weak links." The linked chain is padlocked, and on that lock is the Bruins symbol.
"It’s something, kind of like last year with the jacket, Andrew [Ference] made something that symbolizes a team, a chain," Kelly said. "Try not to be that weak link, and it’s one of those things that you pass out after a game. It’s one of those things that’s all in good fun. It just started for the playoffs."
Tim Thomas followed immediately by saying, "He wasn’t the weak link tonight."
Kelly's goal came at a crucial time in the game, not only because it was in sudden death overtime, but because the Bruins had come off their worst period of the game. In the third they were only able to come up with three shots on net, while allowing the Capitals nine of their own. That doesn't seem too bad until it's taken into account that they allowed just seven shots on net combined in the first two periods and accumulated 26 of their own.
While that would seemingly frustrate many players, Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said that getting shots was the important thing, and keeping a cool mind while doing it was even moreso.
"That’s what playoff hockey is about, staying patient, playing strong defensively and staying consistent with what you do and not getting scored on," Seidenberg said. "And then once you get a chance you try to just get a goal like we did in overtime and go with it."
While they tried to stay positive in that department, there were some gaping holes in their play that didn't go unnoticed--most notably the power play.
Though it has glaring similarities to last year's playoff run, the Bruins went an uninspiring 0-for-4 with the man-advantage, including a four-minute double minor penalty late in the first period that carried over to the second. Though it didn't come back to bite them in this game, it should be an aspect of the game that they can change and improve for the rest of the series.
But if there's one thing to maintain, it's the dominance of Tim Thomas. Thomas was only forced to make 17 saves, but ten of those were in the third period and overtime. Through the first forty minutes of play, he would go an extended amount of time without seeing a single shot, and then the next minute have to make a breath-taking save. While his counterpart on the other end of the ice, Braden Holtby also showed extreme poise on the ice, Thomas started where he left off--with a shutout win.
"I mean he was fantastic," Bruins defenseman Greg Zanon said. "Playoffs are a little different, everybody’s aware and you know what’s going on. I know, what was it, he had seven shots after two periods, but he’s mentally strong, he’s always prepared. I mean he made some big saves for us down the stretch that obviously kept us in the game and gave us the opportunity to win."
The Bruins continue the series on Saturday for Game Two at TD Garden and the puck drops at 3 p.m.