|03.16.10 at 6:45 pm ET|
The Bruins couldn’t have scripted a better start to what could be considered a key – if not critical – conclusion to their season-long seven game road trip. And they took advantage of the early momentum to take a 1-0 lead after one.
Bruins outshot the Hurricanes, 18-7, in exerting their dominance.
The biggest concern, however, continues to be taking advantage of their momentum to build onto a lead, particularly on the power play as the Bruins couldn’t convert on a 5-on-3 power play and a more conventional 5-on-4 advantage.
Since their best playmaker Marc Savard went down with a concussion, the Bruins have scored just once in 11 tries on the power play and haven’t scored in their last nine tries.
|03.15.10 at 10:43 pm ET|
Before we go any further into the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Devils on Monday night, let’s get one thing straight: This wasn’t a Jacques Lemaire or Pat Burns-coached team that the Bruins fell to Monday night. It wasn’t a fall-behind-by-one-and-the-game’s-over scenario, as many who have followed the Bruins have grown accustomed to when it comes to playing the Devils. And while the Devils are a very viable Cup contender this year, this wasn’t a throwback to the mid-’90s-on torture that the black and gold have fallen victim to.
This was a struggling team going against a struggling team (the Devils, currently fourth in the conference, entered the evening 4-5-1 over their last 10 games) and struggling.
On Monday night we saw plenty of the Bruins’ flaws highlighted. Whether it was the painful uncertainty in net that led to Tim Thomas being yanked after 20 minutes of decent play accompanied by bad luck and big rebounds (for what it’s worth, only Zach Parise’s goal can be blamed on Thomas ‘ Scott Niedermayer’s was the result of a screen and David Clarkson’s a breakaway), a missed opportunity at physically setting the tone (Milan Lucic’s dasher to the face) or the lack of consistent offense, it was all there in a rough night for Claude Julien and the gang.
The Bruins are still hanging onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by just one point, with their 72 points narrowly edging the Rangers’ 71. Still, in a prospective matchup with the top-seeded Capitals (who are 2-0 against Boston this year and have outscored the Bruins by a margin of 8-2 in their two meetings), the playoffs might just be a formality ‘ a quick stop on the way to yet another offseason filled with questions of how the Bruins can return to prominence for good.
It wasn’t all bad, though. The offense, aside from being snakebitten when it comes to getting multiple tallies in the third (see below), peppered New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur with 15 shots in the final 20 minutes, and after being outshot 22-21 through two periods, ended the game having outshot the Devils, 36-28. Here is the hat trick of lessons learned in close-but-not-close-enough match at the Prudential Center.
|03.15.10 at 8:45 pm ET|
Summary — The Bruins’ struggles continued Monday night in New Jersey against the Devils in a game that confirmed suspicions of their inability to complete a comeback from a multiple-goal deficit.
With New Jersey holding a 3-1 lead late in the third, a one-timer from Dennis Seidenberg was redirected by Patrice Bergeron in front of Martin Brodeur’s net at 18:57 of the period to give the Bruins hope in a 3-2 game. However, they failed to get the equalizer in the final seconds with Tuuka Rask pulled, sealing their fate and the victory for the Devils.
Tim Thomas got the start for the Bruins, but it wasn’t more than an ugly first period before he was replaced and the Bruins were forced to seek new life under Rask.
A shot from David Clarkson from in between the circles was tipped by Rob Neidermayer at 9:58 for the Devils’ first goal, which gave them a lead that they would never lose.
Later in the period Martin Brodeur sent a pass down the ice to Clarkson, who caught it from center ice and never looked back, taking it in on the breakaway and giving the Devils a 2-0 lead. Zach Parise capitalized on a Mike Mottau rebound seconds later to make it 3-0.
To the Bruins credit, they did seem to find their second wind once Rask went between the pipes to start the second period. It was only 43 seconds into the period that Blake Wheeler tipped a Mark Stuart shot past Brodeur and got the Bruins on the board.
David Clarkson — The Devils forward appeared to have his first goal since November on New Jersey’s first goal, but after it was credited to Neidermayer he added one of his own later in the first period for good measure.
Martin Brodeur — In a game that highlighted the Bruins’ uncertainty between the pipes, the other goaltender again stood out, thanks to his 34 saves on 36 shots.
Mark Stuart — Stuart gets on here before Wheeler because he brought the whole package — offense, defense, and muscle — with him against the Devils en route to being the only Bruin to post a plus-one.
Turning Point — The Parise goal. It came so soon after the Devils’ second tally that it made an otherwise somewhat-close period look like an insurmountable hole as the Bruins headed to the locker room.
Key Play — Mark Stuart stapling Jamie Langenbrunner at the blue line with about six and a half to go in the second period. If the Bruins want to be able to carry any swagger it will be from big hits like this, which led to a fight with Rod Pelley seconds later.
|03.15.10 at 7:45 pm ET|
The presence of Tuuka Rask changed the tone of the game Monday night. That, of course, and the presence of scoring.
Mark Stuart, pinching in the offensive zone, threw the puck on net at an odd angle that was tipped by Blake Wheeler and slipped past the leg of Martin Brodeur just 43 seconds into the second period to bring the Bruins within two goals in a 3-1 game.
Stuart nearly had one of his own on the following drive when his shot from the point lanced off of Brodeur’s glove.
A close call came at 8:53 when Rob Neidermayer, positioned in front of Rask, redirected a shot from the point past Rask for what appeared to be the Devils’ fourth goal. The goal was waved off immediately and was confirmed seconds later.
Shawn Thornton and Pierre-Luc Letornee-Leblond participated in somewhat of a balet recital at 2:47 in a fight that never really got off the ground. Still, with the highly anticipated bout with the Penguins on tap, Bruins fans may be willing to take any sneak preview they can get.
A troubling play came when Milan Lucic, following a biffed attempt at hitting Andy Green, went face-first into the dasher in the middle of the period. He left for the locker room following the play but later returned.
The Bruins kept up the pressure late in the second period, including a drive that featured a couple of close plays involving Dennis Seidenberg. A 3-on-1 in the period’s last minute also looked promising but went for naught. Even so, the Bruins wrapped up the period playing with far more energy than they ever were in the first period.
Each team had 10 shots and through two the Devils are outshooting the Bruins, 22-21.
|03.15.10 at 6:57 pm ET|
One would think that one team outshooting the other by just one might dictate a close game. Not tonight, as the rout may be on early in Newark, with the Devils leading the Bruins 3-0 after the first period.
After a run of eight consectuive shots from the Bruins, the Devils applied a ton of pressure in the period’s 10th minute that culminated in a goal from Rob Neidermayer at 9:58. The goal came as a result of a tip from a David Clarkson shot. Patrik Elias likely would have made it 2-0 seconds later were it not for his wrister going wide of Thomas’ net. Though the stat sheet would be filled with penalty minutes for much of of the time after, smart goaltending got the Devils back on the board.
David Clarkson took a long pass from Martin Brodeur at center ice and raced up the ice untouched for a breakaway goal at 17:23. It was Brodeur’s third assist of the season.
Seconds later, Parise took a rebound from a Mike Mottau shot and put it past Thomas to give the Devils a 3-0 lead.
But enough about the Bruins’ inability to compete at the moment. With the Penguins in town Thursday, much of the focus is on the physical aspect. After Blake Wheeler went off just 52 seconds into the game for hooking, the Bruins’ penalty kill, which entered the night third in the NHL, went to work and effectively killed off a Devils power play that consisted of two shots. The highlight of the penalty kill came when Tim Thomas made a nice save through a screen on a shot from the stick of Travis Zajac.
A few minutes later, Dennis Seidenberg stapled Zach Parise in the corner and was retaliated upon by Jamie Langenbrunner, who went off for unsportsmanlike conduct at 5:34. After a shorthanded bid from the Devils, poor puckwork deraliled what dew opportunities the Bruins were able to muster on the power play.
Shortly thereafter Vladimir Sobotka has one of the best opportunities of the period when he was stuffed by Martin Brodeur on a wraparound.
Mark Stuart crushed Jamie Langenbrunner with about six and a half minutes remaining in the period and seconds later was squaring off with Rod Pelley at the blue line. Both went off for fighting at 13:50.
The Devils outshot the Bruins 12-11.
|03.13.10 at 9:46 pm ET|
Summary — Two longtime Original Six rivals faced off for the last time during the regular season on Saturday as the Bruins and Canadiens went for a tilt at the Bell Centre in Montreal. With two points separating the teams for the final two playoffs spots in the Eastern Conference heading into the game the contest was an important one for both teams and (team) was able to prevail 3-2. Tuukka Rask got the start for Boston and made 24 saves in the loss. He was opposed by Jaroslav Halak who was sturdy in stopping 21 pucks in the winning effort.
The Habs jumped on top of the Bruins in the first period. The first goal came courtesy of the power play (Mark Stuart holding 5:02) when Andrei Markov let go of a wrist shot from the blue that had eyes through traffic in front of Rask and deflected off of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for the opening score.
The Canadiens would strike again within the last minute of the period right after killing a penalty when Sergei Kostitsyn wrapped a backhand around the net to beat Rask at 19:40 for the two-goal advantage heading into the second period.
Boston cut the lead in half at 1:12 of the second period. Michael Ryder took a pass from David Krejci and rushed down the left wing on a break and sent a backhand centering pass to Blake Wheeler rushing down the middle lane. Wheeler just need to tap it through Halak to make it 2-1.
Kostisyn struck again early in the third when he took a puck that had an odd bounce off the back boards that came back onto his stick to catch Rask way out of position and leave an empty crease for the easy goal and a two-score advantage.
Boston would not go quietly. Milan Lucic made it a one-goal game at 11:46 in the third when he stick-handled on the half wall and into the slot to send a wrist shot on Halak that fell through the goaltenders pads and into the net to make it 3-2.
Sergei Kostitsyn — The perpetually pesky Montreal forward scored the Habs’ second and third goals of the game to put the Bruins away.
Andrei Markov — The Canadiens’ defenseman scored the first goal of the game and assisted on the second to propel Montreal’s early game attack.
Blake Wheeler — The sophomore forward scored his 16th of the year and second in two games with his second period strike.
Turning Point — The pivotal separation goal came at 1:41 in the third period when Kostitsyn threw the puck off the backboards and was the lucky recipient of an odd bounce that put the puck back on his stick while crashing the net without breaking his stride. Rask was caught on the edge of the crease following the puck which left Kostitsyn and empty net. With Lucic’s goal later in the third the strike proved to be the game winner.
Key Play — As the Bruins tried to come back in the last five minute of the game Halak stuffed a point-blank shot from Marco Sturm that would have been the equalizer. Boston would not seriously threaten the Canadiens lead again.
|03.13.10 at 8:50 pm ET|
The second period started off much better for fans of the Black and Gold.
The Bruins cut the 2-0 lead in half within the first two minutes of the frame. David Krejci started an odd-man break by feeding a rushing Michael Ryder who flew down the left wing and waited just long enough on his way to the goal line to that when he sent a backhand pass back at the crease that Blake Wheeler got an easy tip passed Jaroslav Halak to make it 2-1 at 1:12.
The Bruins did their best to give the Habs back the momentum with two penalties through through eight-minutes of the period. Marco Sturm took the first at 3:40 with an inadvertent elbow to the head right in front of the Boston bench. The next penalty was an interference call on Mark Stuart, his second penalty of the game, with an interference call at 9:32. Unlike Stuart’s first penalty, the Habs were not able to score due to some quality goaltending by Tuukka Rask and the smart killing of forwards Daniel Paille and Steve Begin.
The teams played two minutes of 4-on-4 after Canadiens’ forward Andrei Kostitsyn had an interference penalty with a little bit of late hit that Milan Lucic took exception to and went after Kostitsyn after the play, washing a glove in his face to take a roughing penalty at 2:36. With nine-seconds left in the 4-on-4 the Habs Josh Gorges took a hooking penalty against Vladimir Sobotka on the rush. It was not much of a penalty but tempers started to rise late in the period between the longtime rivals and the refs look to keep control.
Shots through second (total):
Boston — 5 (11)
Montreal — 9 (16)
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