Time for one final B’s bow before the playoffs
|04.12.09 at 10:17 pm ET|
With 116 points in the final ledger for the 2008-09 regular season, the Bruins have much to be proud in a season that has awakened the dormant Boston hockey population.
The Black and Gold capped it off with a 6-2 drubbing of a New York Islanders team dreaming of golf season at the Nassau Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. Phil Kessel capped off an outstanding third NHL season with a hat trick that put him at 60 points for the season. The 21-year-old led the B’s with 36 goals scored, and would have had a shot at 40 goals if mononucleosis hadn’t knocked him out of commission in the middle of the season.
With the playoffs on the horizon, it’s the right time for Kessel to go into one of his patented scoring binges — a ride that he seems to have been on while closing the season strong with nine goals in his last eight games. Kessel also led the team with 232 shots on net for the season, despite missing 12 games with illness and injury this season — a testament to Kessel’s offensive philosophy that he never saw a shot that he didn’t like.
The B’s gave up the fewest goals (194) in the NHL this season, which means that both Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez will take home a share of the Jennings Trophy. Thomas appeared in 54 games and Fernandez in 28 as the Bruins finished with NHL’s fewest goals against (196), edging the second-place Minnesota Wild (200). This is the first career Jennings Trophy for Thomas and second for Fernandez, who teamed with Niklas Backstrom to win as members of the Wild in 2006-07. Thomas and Fernandez are the second Bruins tandem to win the award since its inception in 1981-82, as Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin captured the trophy during the 1989-90 season.
Thomas — who set a career high with 36 wins this year and played in his second straight NHL All-Star Game — finished the 2008-09 regular season as the league leader in goals against average (2.10) and save percentage (.933). Fernandez, meanwhile, compiled a 16-8-3 record with a 2.59 GAA and .910 save percentage.
David Krejci finishes the season leading the NHL with a +37 for the year in a breakout campaign that saw him play in all 82 games and finish second on the team’s scoring list with 73 points and 51 assists. Marc Savard and Mark Stuart also finished with all 82 games played under their belts this season. Savard led the team with 88 points.
Power play output was spread around between a series of players this season with Zdeno Chara (11), Michael Ryder (10), Marc Savard (9) and Kessel (8) all registering as the top four among B’s skaters in terms of power play points.
Injury Ward: Shawn Thornton took a high stick to the face, Mark Recchi took a shot off the noggin’ while camped in his usual spot in front of the net and Byron Bitz took a shot off the foot, but all three Bruins stayed in the game and appeared to be okay. Chara and P.J. Axelsson both took part in the pregame skate, but were scratched for the Sunday night game. We’ll have updates on Andrew Ference and Bergeron on Tuesday as there will be no practice and no media availability with Claude Julien or the players tomorrow.
Player of the Game: Kessel goes for a hat trick and finishes the season with some strong performances. It looks like it won’t take three games on the pine to get Kessel going this postseason. Kessel finishes the season with 36 goals — more scores than much bigger names like Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Alexander Semin and Simon Gagne. Kessel just keeps getting better and better each season. It’ll be interesting to see how high his ceiling is before he starts to plateau.
Goat Horns: There are no goat horns on a day when the Bruins finish with more points than they have at any point since the B’s Stanley Cup champion days of the Bobby Orr-led squads in the early 1970’s. Time for the Black and Gold to take a quick bow before the playoffs begin.
Turning Point: How about 23 seconds in when the Ryder and Krejci combo knifed through the Islanders D for a goal that made it 1-0 in the first period off the opening faceoff? This game was over before it even started in Uniondale.