Bruins fend off The Question

Boston's Zdeno Chara (33) celebrates his goal, 30 seconds into the game, with Brad Marchand (center) and Mark Recchi.
Boston's Zdeno Chara (33) celebrates his goal, 30 seconds into the game, with Brad Marchand (center) and Mark Recchi. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 05, 2011

BOSTON - Their job well done, the Bruins filed into their locker room; peeled off their uniforms; drank their fluids; rolled their eyes; and, no doubt, were tempted to cover their ears.

They knew The Question was coming. Well, guys, you were in the same position last season against the same team, the Flyers. You took a three-games-to-none lead, and where did it get you? A place in the NHL record books where they list the greatest collapses in history.

Anyone have that creepy feeling it could happen again?

"No, we're trying to keep that out of our minds," Brad Marchand said Wednesday night after the Bruins easily defeated the Flyers, 5-1, in the Eastern Conference semifinals at TD Garden.

"It's a brand new year, and we have a lot of new guys, and it's a new season. We're not worried about that at all. We're writing a new chapter."

Tim Thomas, the outstanding goalie who so far has been the biggest difference between the clubs, turned away The Question as adeptly as he turned away 37 shots, running his total of saves to 89 in Games 2 and 3 combined.

"It's a different year. It's totally different," he said, rolling his eyes. "I'm focused on this year. I'm focused on what we as a team want to accomplish this year and what I want to accomplish as a player this year. I'll leave the comparisons [to last season] to you guys."

Marchand and Thomas are right. This is a completely different situation, especially for them. Marchand was a rookie last season, and Thomas, who is favored to win his second Vezina Trophy in three seasons, was not healthy enough to be himself, so he backed up Tuukka Rask.

Marchand, who will be 23 next week, set the tone on the first shift when he attacked the net and attempted a wraparound shot. The puck caromed out to the faceoff circle and 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara, who might have the hardest shot in the NHL, ripped a blast that beat Brian Boucher, and it was 1-0 only 30 seconds after the opening faceoff.

"It was one of those plays that kind of bounced our way," Marchand said. "We kind of caught them off guard, I guess. Z [Chara] made a great shot. He showed why he's our leader and our captain."

The next Boston goal came 33 seconds later and was scored by David Krejci, who had been knocked out of the series early in Game 3 last year by an open-ice hit from Mike Richards.

Marchand had nothing to do with Krejci's fourth goal of the series, but he had plenty to do with punishing the Flyers. He has 10 points in 10 playoff games, but to truly measure his value in Game 3, it's better to check the Richter scale than the score sheet because the 5-9, 185-pound native of Nova Scotia was the most physical, and most punishing, player on the ice.

Marchand had seven hits, and most of them left Flyers prone on the ice. In the first period alone he bowled over Ville Leino, Danny Syvret, and Kris Versteeg.

He played as if possessed, as if winning the game wasn't quite enough. He was more than a handful for the Flyers. He was also an earful, yapping at Versteeg and Claude Giroux.

"It was one of those games I was angry the whole time, and my emotions kind of get the best of me, just running around trying to kill guys," Marchand said. "It's not like that every night, but tonight was one of those nights. We wanted to make it hard for them down in their end. I think maybe they were a little worn down at the end."

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or

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