|03.16.10 at 10:21 pm ET|
The Bruins apparently now get it.
They understand that the season hinges on every single game, every single shot and every single shift. On Tuesday night, with a 5-2 road win over Carolina in Raleigh, N.C., they showed just 24 hours after a slow start doomed them to a 3-2 loss to New Jersey they can bounce back and finish a season-long trip on a positive note.
And they showed their ultimate focus, while the hockey world is focused on Thursday’s potential “revenge” game against Matt Cooke and the Penguins at TD Garden. It’s a contest that fans have circled and highlighted since Marc Savard was lost to an elbow/shoulder from Cooke on March 7.
The Bruins have 74 points and solidified their hold on eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They have two huge home games coming up with the Penguins and then the Rangers at 12:30 p.m. Sunday on national television.
The Bruins wasted no time showing they meant business. We’ll do the same in breaking down a win that gave the Bruins a 3-3-1 road trip.
STARTING FAST, FINISHING STRONG
Dennis Seidenberg set the tempo of the game right out of the chute when his shot from the right point was redirected past Manny Legace by Patrice Bergeron just 23 seconds into the game. Seidenberg’s play was typical of the Bruins defensemen all night as they jumped into the play to jump-start the offense.
The starting fast theme continued two periods later when goalie Tuukka Rask stopped Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal in the opening 30 seconds of the third as the Hurricanes were trying to convert a power play to tie the game. Instead, the Bruins came back with a rush of their own and capped it when Mark Recchi scored 45 seconds into the final period.
The Bruins twice had two-goal leads, at 2-0 and 3-1, and both times, Carolina cut it to one. But on this night, the Bruins found the finishing kick.
Michael Ryder took advantage of a horrendous turnover by the Canes and ripped off a one-timer that made it 4-2. David Krejci’s spin-o-rama job with 7:33 remaining put the game on ice and allowed the Bruins to finally look ahead to their grudge match with Cooke and the Penguins on Thursday at the Garden.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
The Bruins had five different goal-scorers on Tuesday night. Starting with Bergeron, and continuing with Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder and David Krejci, the Bruins spread it around on Tuesday. What was evident was that every line was skating hard. That, combined with the defensemen jumping into the play made for a formidable and productive combination.
Yes, the Bruins were again out to lunch on the power play, going 0-for-4. But that was offset by their five-on-five scoring chances.
FINGERS CROSSED FOR BERGY
With just under three minutes remaining in a game that was going entirely the way of the Bruins, they had a reminder of just how frustrating this season has been. Mark Stuart picked up a loose puck at the left point, just inside Carolina’s blue line, and rifled a shot toward the net. Patrice Bergeron, as he did on the game’s first goal, got in front of Legace to run interference. But unlike Seidenberg’s well-placed drive, Stuart’s blast elevated quickly and caught Bergeron on the inside of his right knee.
Fortunately, x-rays following the game on Bergeron’s leg were negative but the shot was sure to have left a mark just the way Bergeron has on the Bruins offense all season. Bergeron, as head coach Claude Julien has pointed out all season, has been the single-most consistent player on the roster and they can ill-afford to lose him and Savard coming down the stretch.
|03.16.10 at 8:29 pm ET|
Michael Ryder and Patrice Bergeron each scored their 16th goals of the season and Mark Recchi moved into a tie for 22nd on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list with his 560th career goal as the Bruins ended their season-long seven-game road trip with a 5-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Tuesday night.
Bergeron had to be helped from the ice with just under three minutes left after taking a Mark Stuart slap shot to the inside of the right knee.
The Bruins ended their trip seven-game road trip with a 3-3-1 record, seven out of a possible 14 points and now have 74 points, and still in the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.
Patrice Bergeron: Before taking a shot to his right leg late in the third period, Bergeron was all over the ice offensively, setting the tempo from the first period on.
Tuukka Rask: The Bruins goalie, after turning away all 16 shots in the final 40 minutes on Monday in New Jersey, came up big when he had to. He turned away Jokinen and Eric Staal in the first 30 seconds of the third period on back-to-back chances, setting the stage for Mark Recchi to tie Guy Lafleur for 22nd on the all-time goal list with 560.
Johnny Boychuk: His end-to-end rush in the second period highlighted a great night for the Bruins defense. He, Matt Hunwick and Dennis Seidenberg anchored a good two-way performance by Bruins blueliners for 60 minutes.
Turning point: Mark Recchi’s historic goal. The Hurricanes began the third period with a power play. Tuukka Rask came up with a big save in the first 30 seconds and then just 45 seconds into the final period, Recchi talHilied his 15th of the season – and 560th career – to put Boston up, 3-1.
Key play: Game was over when Michael Ryder capitalized on a horrendous Carolina turnover in their own zone, intercepting a pass just inside the blue line and firing his 16th pass Manny Legace for a 4-2 lead.
|03.16.10 at 7:47 pm ET|
The two teams exchanged goals in the second period as the Bruins take a 2-1 lead over the Hurricanes after 40 minutes.
Boychuk hustled nicely in an end-to-end rush and was rewarded when Hunwick found Boychuk rushing up the right side. Boychuk scored his fourth of the season to make it 2-0.
The Hurricanes used the power play to get back into the game when Eric Cole picked up a rebound to the left of Rask and his put back made it 2-1. The Bruins hold a 32-16 advantage on face-offs and are outshooting Carolina 26-20 but again the alarming stat is Boston’s 0-for-4 on the power play.
|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.