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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The playoffs must be right around the corner since the Bruins are blowing 3-0 leads

At this point as an objective fan of the Boston Bruins, who do I want to see them play in the first round of the playoffs?

They've struggled with Montreal, Buffalo and the New York Rangers, the three teams they're most likely to play.

That angst was only increased last night with the type of choke job that it takes 39 years without a Stanley Cup to truly perfect.

Boston (44-24-11) managed to once again blow a 3-0 lead (sound familiar?) as the Rangers (43-32-5) roared back for a 5-3 win at Madison Square Garden.

In the grand scheme of things, the game meant much more to New York since they're clinging to their playoff lives, but every time the Bruins blow a lead it sends shudders across New England. When you're so used to seeing them lose in every way possible, games like last night only reinforce those negative feelings (Red Sox pre-2004 style).

It happened because once Boston built a 3-0 lead, they seemed to put it on cruise control. New York had won a shootout the afternoon before in Philadelphia but they dug down deep and found the energy to get it done.

Daniel Paille (5th of the season, from Johnny Boychuk and Michael Ryder) and Nathan Horton (25th of the season, from David Krejci and Milan Lucic) gave Boston a 2-0 jump start in the first period. Paille drove to the net and tapped in a pretty cross ice feed from Boychuk. Likewise, Horton did the dirty work and followed Krejci's shot and got enough of the rebound to put it past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (27 saves).

When Chris Kelly (13th of the season, from Tomas Kaberle and Dennis Seidenberg) gave Boston a 3-0 lead in the second period, with his first goal as a Bruin, it appeared like a rare rout against New York was in motion.

Not so much. The Bruins defensemen stopped skating and Tim Thomas (21 saves), God love him, started flying around out of control like he always does when things get crazy.

Vaclav Prospal scored a pair of goals in the latter half of the second period to pull the Rangers within 3-2.

New York had all the momentum but with less than four minutes remaining in regulation, it looked like Boston might slink away with the two points. We should have known better. Brandon Dubinsky tied it and Michael Sauer scored the game-winner 51 seconds later to save us from another tedious overtime and shootout loss.

Derek Stepan added an empty-netter and that was that.

Only three more games left before things get real. Boston hosts the New York Islanders tomorrow night at TD Garden. The Islanders have nothing to play for (as always) but they have enough talent to give the Bruins problems if they're not focused.

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