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Bruins drop a stinkbomb on the Buffalo ice, but stay healthy

The score results from this weekend’s trip through the Empire State are meaningless for the B’s, so the real scorecard is how many healthy bodies the Bruins can return back to Boston with after road dates in Buffalo and New York.

The 6-1 loss to Buffalo on Saturday afternoon [1]will be long gone and forgotten once the postseason begins on Thursday night for the B’s, and people won’t remember how dreadful backup goaltender Manny Fernandez [2] looked while giving up six goals in net. They won’t remember how toothless and just plain lost the normally rock-solid B’s defense looked without their 6-foot-9 beacon of power and intimidation skating and hitting in the lineup.

The only real downer following the one-sided defeat was that the Black and Gold now have no chance at catching the San Jose Sharks [3] for the President’s Trophy and potential home ice in the Stanley Cup [4] Finals, but a date in the Finals is miles down a road paved with sacrifice and uncertainty. 

Zdeno Chara [5], P.J. Axelsson and Phil Kessel [6] (flu bug) didn’t dress for the Saturday game, but Dennis Wideman [7] did return to the lineup. The puck-moving D-man appeared to dodge a bullet when he took a Drew Stafford slap shot off the left foot in the first period and struggled off the ice in obvious pain. Wideman wasn’t seen again during the final six minutes in the first period, but returned for both the second and third to take shifts for the B’s. Wideman didn’t appear any worse for the wear following the game. The hope has to be that both Wideman and Patrice Bergeron [8] — also resting a sore foot at home this weekend after withstanding a shot to the boot on Thursday night — as well as defenseman Andrew Ference [9] will be ready to go once the “real” season begins on Thursday

Aside from the Wideman scare, it appeared that the Bruins were able to Escape from Buffalo (sounds like a great name for a movie) without any discernible physical maladies. So now it’s one forgettable matinee game at the Nassau Coliseum to go on Sunday afternoon, and then each and every shift transforms into life or death for a Boston hockey club that’s done so much to capture the imaginations of their dormant Boston fan base this winter.

Injury Ward: As mentioned previously, Dennis Wideman took a shot off the in-step of his left foot and really looked like a hurtin’ hockey unit as he made his way back to the bench and then on to the dressing room. The tough-as-nails defender — who has really taken a beating in the last few games as a certifiable shot magnet — jumped back on the ice in the second period, however, and seemed no worse for the wear. Stay tuned on that one. Wideman finished with 17:18 of ice time and five shots on net in the game.

Player of the Game: Since Mark Recchi [10] scored the only goal of the game for the Bruins on one of his trademark tips in front of the net, the 41-year-old gets the honors during the sleepy defeat in Buffalo. Recchi now has 10 goals for the Spoked B since arriving in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning [11], and has been even more than anyone in Boston could have hoped for when the deal went down. Big props also to 40-year-old Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen, who notched an assist in what could be his last game as an NHL [12] player following a 20-year career with the Winnipeg Jets and Sabres.

Goat Horns: The Bruins better wish on their luck Bear’s claws that nothing happens to the ultra-durable Tim Thomas [13] during their run through the Stanley Cup playoffs because Manny Fernandez continues to display the confidence of a rented goalie in the loss. Fernandez is playing too deep in his own net, dropping into the butterfly way too early and showing all the telltale signs of a netminder that is — in hockey speak — fighting  the puck. Granted, Fernandez’s defense clearly wasn’t doing him any favors in a half-baked effort, but the 34-year-old simply hasn’t looked the same since developing back problems at midseason. He could be disastrous in the playoffs.

Turning Point: Was a 4-0 deficit at the end of the first twenty minutes enough of a turning point? At least the Bruins saved the second-to-last game of the season to play their worst period of hockey this year.