Would you take your shoe off and drop a brick on it to win a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
That’s how one former NHL forward described the feeling of blocking an Alex Ovechkin slap shot via text Friday.
Now no one can ever question whether the Bruins, now one win away from the second round, are willing to pay the price to win in the playoffs.
“We wanted it and it showed,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.
It took more than just courage to get the Bruins their third straight win in this best-of-7 series.
David Pastrnak scored his first goal of the postseason, Boston’s special teams (3-for-5 power play, 6-for-7 penalty kill) dominated the Capitals, and five defensemen had to make up for the second-period injury departure of Kevan Miller.
But the Bruins also needed some grit, and they had it.
Miller was taken to the hospital after he was hit high by Washington’s Dmitry Orlov. Cassidy said Miller was undergoing some tests. It’s a wonder none of his fellow defensemen joined him after what some of them did to their bodies.
“It’s gonna hurt down to the bone,” another former NHL player said about blocking the Ovechkin one-timer, possibly the most dangerous shot to face — for goaltenders and defenders — in at least 50 years.
“It feels like you’re not wearing any pads,” is how another ex-NHL blueliner described it.
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Carlo took the first Ovechkin rocket off his body at 14:53 during a Boston penalty kill. Then Clifton did the unthinkable — he blocked Ovechkin one-timers at 15:54 and 16:14 (just as the penalty expired). That’s right, two bricks to the foot (or wherever the puck hit him) in 20 seconds.
For good measure, Carlo stopped one more Ovechkin blast at 18:02 of the second period. Amazingly, Carlo (10 shifts for 7:31) and Clifton (11 shifts for 9:38) were able to skate, effectively, in the third period.
Ovechkin scored a power-play in that third period, but for the night he landed just four shots on net and had six attempts blocked (Curtis Lazar and Miller blocked one wrist shot each, worthy of a stick tap as well). The Caps superstar has two goals in four games and it must be driving him crazy that he not only has to deal with Tuukka Rask in net, but he also has to solve Bruins players willing to risk life and limb to get a ‘W.’
But that’s what a trip to the 2019 Stanley Cup final and years of hanging around champions like Rask, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron, instills in younger players. It’s what every title team knows has to be done. Championship teams need big goals and saves, but also need to do the little things, which are sometimes the hardest things to do.
Intangibles are by their nature unquantifiable. But maybe there’s a way to measure what Carlo and Clifton showed Friday.
“It takes balls to do it,” is what a previously quoted ex-player said about blocking those Ovechkin shots.
It also takes that type of intestinal fortitude to win the Cup. It might seem unfair to ask for more of it out of not just Carlo and Clifton, but most of their teammates. That’s the price, though, that’ll have to be paid for the Bruins to get where they want to go.
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