Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eastern Conference Semifinals - Game One

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference had a disciplinary hearing with the NHL a couple of days ago in regards to the "hit" he delivered on Montreal Canadiens forward Jeff Halpern. The Bruins are making a habit of these hearings by the league. But this one should not have even happened. Halpern and Ference were skating towards the puck and Ference's shoulder caught Halpern in the head. A similar hit occurred when Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby took a cheap hit to the head by David Steckel of the Washington Capitals. What do the two incidents have in common? No suspension.

As we all remember, the Philadelphia Flyers eliminated the Bruins in last year's Eastern Conference Semifinals, coming back from a three game deficit and a three goal deficit in game seven. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette kept telling his players "get the next one." One of the most famous moments in playoff hockey. In game one of this year's Eastern Conference Semifinals, that particular mindset was occupied by Boston.

Less than two minutes into the game, David Krejci (BOS) put the Bruins on top 1-0 by scoring his second goal of the playoffs. Danny Briere (PHI) tied the game at one midway through the period. The Bruins grabbed the lead at the end of the first period when Nathan Horton netted his fourth of the playoffs.

Throughout the remaining periods, Boston added five more goals. Brad Marchand (two), Mark Recchi, and Gregory Campbell contributed to the score sheet in the game this afternoon. Even though the Bruins still have not scored a power play goal, they moved the puck into the offensive zone much easier and they are creating better chances. They definitely had opportunities with the man advantage today. Things are looking promising. The Bruins win game one by a score of 7-3. Game two will be Monday night in Philadelphia.

Gold Star: David Krejci (2 goals, 2 assists, +3 rating, 2 hits, 1 takeaway, 50% face-offs won)

Black Star: Milan Lucic....another game misconduct Lucic? The Flyers are going to talk and they are going to get under your skin. Play the game and beat them on the scoreboard.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game Seven

There was a great article written today that was posted on the NESN website. The content of the article had to do with the Milan Lucic ejection last night in game six. Lucic hit Montreal defenseman Jaroslav Spacek face first into the boards resulting in a five minute boarding major and a game misconduct.

Within the text laid two slide shows containing pictures of the incident. Both angles showed that Spacek saw Lucic coming at him and he turned purposely in order to get the call. Now the article made a reference towards soccer and how soccer players are a bunch of actors. I did not like that comparison. However, the Canadiens will do whatever it takes to sell a call. The NHL did the right thing by not suspending the Bruins leading goal scorer.

Game seven has not favored Boston over the years. In fact, they have not won a game seven in the playoffs since April 29, 1994 when they defeated the Canadiens by a score of 5-3. The Bruins had to focus on the game tonight and not worry about the past. They did just that as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Johnny Boychuk scored his first goal of the postseason on assists from Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Later on, Mark Recchi scored his first goal of the postseason on an assist from Andrew Ference.

The Canadiens grabbed one back as Yannick Weber scored on a power play (no surprise there). Daniel Paille (BOS) broke his stick on the play so it became an indirect 5-on-3. Roman Hamrlik and Mike Cammalleri had the assists. P.K. Subban (MTL) has literally become the public enemy in Boston. He tried to sell a hooking call on Gregory Campbell by diving to the ice. Why didn't the referees call a dive on Subban? Oh, man. It is a disgrace to hockey to have a talented player like Subban stoop to that level. That is the Montreal influence right there.

As previously mentioned, the Bruins power play has been non-existent in the playoffs. They had a man advantage early in the second period. A bad pass from Dennis Seidenberg to Mark Recchi allowed Tomas Plekanec to score on Boston's power play and that tied the game at two goals each. Montreal is living and dying by playing with their special teams. If both of these teams played 5-on-5 for the entire series and no penalties were called, this series would already be over in favor of Boston. Unfortunately, that is not how hockey works. Game seven of this series came down to the final period.

In the third period, much of the physical play was on display. Both teams were fighting for their playoff lives in order to get that go-ahead goal. Sure enough, Chris Kelly (BOS) put a nice hit on Roman Hamrlik to intercept the puck. The puck fell to Rich Peverley in which he got a good shot off. After a Carey Price save, Kelly put in the rebound to put the Bruins on top 3-2. Price kept the Canadiens in the game with some amazing saves. Later on in the period, Patrice Bergeron got called for a high stick which put Montreal back on the power play. P.K. Subban blasted a shot on goal and it went past Tim Thomas' head into the goal. Game seven went to sudden death overtime after both teams were tied at three after regulation.

There are moments in sports where the elation and passion of a certain franchise falls over an entire city. At 5:43 of the first overtime period, the Boston fans experienced one of those moments. Adam McQuaid fought for the puck in the Montreal zone and popped it up to Milan Lucic. He passed the puck over to Nathan Horton and shot the puck into the net for the series winning goal. The Bruins eliminated the Canadiens as they take the series four games to three.

Even though the Bruins took out their rival, even though Claude Julien saved his job, and even though they won their first game seven in years, they cannot be satisfied. They will face the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, the same team that eliminated the Bruins last season.

Gold Star: Mark Recchi (1 goal, +1 rating, 5 shots on goal)...this was his best game of the series and he picked a great night to have it.

Black Star: Tomas Kaberle...he admitted after the second game of the series that he still had some playoff jitters. Hopefully this series win will knock them out of his system and he can start playing up to his potential.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game Six

Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy yesterday. The Norris Trophy is awarded to the league's top defender for the entire season. Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber join Chara as the other finalists. In all likelyhood, Lidstrom will get the award. The only thing that might hinder Chara's chances is the incident that took place in Montreal when he hit Max Pacioretty into the boards. Even though there was no suspension, voters still have that in the back of their minds. I hope I am wrong because he deserves the award.

As for tonight's game, the Bruins had a chance to close out the series against the Habs. Prior to the postseason, Boston was winless at the Bell Centre (home of the Canadiens). After dropping the first two games of the series at home, they responded by winning the next two games on enemy ice to even the series. Both teams must be fatigued from the double overtime game that occurred on Saturday. Three defenseman for the Bruins (Dennis Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk) had over 40 shifts each. In the playoffs, you have to have a short memory. That was Saturday. Game six was tonight and that was what the Bruins needed to be concerned about.

The Bruins had to dig themselves out of an early hole again. Within the first couple of minutes, Boston goaltender Tim Thomas tried to freeze the puck but it got out of his possession. The referee quickly blew the play dead as Brian Gionta (MTL) put the puck into the net. The goal was waived off and the crowd went nuts. That goal should have counted. However, the Canadiens would get some retribution. After the Bruins got called for a two many men penalty and after Dennis Seidenberg slashed Mike Cammalleri, Montreal had a 5-on-3 advantage. Sure enough, Cammalleri scored the first goal of the game and his third of the postseason.

The Bruins had an opportunity for a power play that would carry over into the second period. That man advantage lasted only about 14 seconds because Patrice Bergeron got called for goaltender interference on Carey Price (MTL). Price did a great job of selling the call and he got away with one. Maybe if Milan Lucic (BOS) shot the puck sooner the penalty would not have occurred. Both teams skated 4-on-4 to begin the second period.

The 4-0n-4 produced a goal for Boston that was scored by Dennis Seidenberg after some nice skating by Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley opened up some space in the zone. Milan Lucic got ejected from the game after a five minute boarding penalty on Jaroslav Spacek. He also recieved a game misconduct which will be reviewed by the league. He most likely will not be suspended because Spacek put himself in that vulnerable position. During the five minute power play for Montreal, Patrice Bergeron got called for a delay of game penalty. Once again the Canadiens had a 5-on-3 advantage and once again they were able to score. Brian Gionta scored his third goal of the postseason to give Montreal a 2-1 lead.

I hate when the referees dictate a game. At the same time, when the Bruins go on the power play it is hard to get excited. They still remain the only team left in the playoffs to not score a power play goal. A lot of calls went against the Bruins in the second period. It was a small miracle that they only trailed by a goal heading into the final 20 minutes.

The third period settled down for both teams. However, Boston was able to put together some rushes and got some good shots on net. They had several great opportunities towards the end of the period. The momentum was cut short when Chris Kelly (BOS) got called for a high-sticking penalty and they had to play short-handed from the 16:50 mark to the 18:50 mark of the period. The Canadiens held off the Bruins as they won game six by a score of 2-1. Game seven will be tomorrow at the TD Garden.

Gold Star: Rich Peverley (1 assist, +1 rating, 5 shots on goal)

Black Star: Shawn Thornton...when your ice time (2:27) is lower than the amount of penalty minutes that you serve (7:00), you are hurting your team. This is more of a coaching issue than a player issue though.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game Five

$2,500. Why is that number significant? To us, it is a substantial amount of money that we would hate to lose. For professional athletes, that figure is simply pocket change. Well, that is the amount of money that Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was fined by the NHL. This fine came about as a result of Ference "flipping off" the Montreal crowd after scoring his goal in game four.

After watching the video of the incident and reading his comments following game four, I was not surprised that this took place. Both teams hate each other and the fans know that. The Montreal fans let Zdeno Chara have it every time he touches the puck and the same can be said for P.K. Subban with the Boston fans. "It looks awful. I completely admit it and I apologize how it looks," said Ference. Come on. You flipped them off. Your glove did not get caught up. It would have been perfect timing if it was since you got leveled with two open-ice hits and the crowd cheered for it just seconds before you scored. Pay the fine and move on.

Oh yes, game five was tonight. There were no line up changes for Boston tonight. Why would they change anything now when they have the momentum? The first period was fast paced as usual. Both teams had great opportunities to score, but strong defenses and goaltending was the story of the period. Michael Ryder (BOS) made a smart play by diving into the net and saved a goal after Tim Thomas slipped. All four lines were playing tough hockey and the six defensemen were holding their own. There was no score after the first period.

The second period was just as chippy as the first one. Through the first 40 minutes, both teams each had 16 hits. Boston out shot the Canadiens 21-16. This has been the story of the entire series so it was not a surprise to see Boston out shoot the Canadiens and not hold a lead. Midway through the second period, Shawn Thornton (BOS) was begging to fight Ryan White (MTL). Not s shock, White skated away. Brad Marchand (BOS) did not skate away when Tomas Plekanec (MTL) roughed him in front of the Montreal net. Both men got roughing penalties and the teams skated 4-on-4 to begin the third period.

Nothing came for either team as a result of the 4-0n-4. Later on in the period, Brad Marchand put the Bruins on the board by scoring his first goal of the postseason. Patrice Bergeron and Tomas Kaberle has the assists. Montreal would not go down without a fight. Jeff Halpern tied the game at one goal a piece after both teams scrambled for a loose puck and he found it in front of the net for an uncontested shot. Lars Eller and Mathieu Darche had the assists for the Habs. For the second consecutive game, we needed sudden death overtime to determine a winner.

In the overtime, Patrice Bergeron was denied a straight scoring chance to the net by a foul committed on him by the last defender, which is the definition of a penalty shot. Shockingly, the Bruins were only awarded a two minute power play for a tripping call. They could not get off a great scoring chance with the man advantage. David Krejci had a great shot for Boston when Milan Lucic set him up with a great pass, but it was stopped by Carey Price (MTL). You can tell that Krejci is a passer and not a scorer because he froze when he had the clear shot. It was as if he did not know what to do. Either way, both teams remained tied after the first extra 20 minutes.

As the second overtime got under way, it was evident that players from both teams were showing signs of fatigue. Players started to make mistakes, more gaps existed on the ice, and both teams exchanged fast break chances. Tim Thomas robbed the Canadiens when he stopped Brian Gionta's shot that nearly rattled the inside of the cage. With a little over nine minutes elapsed from the second overtime, Nathan Horton (BOS) scored his second goal of the playoffs and gave the Bruins the win. They now have a three games to two series lead. This was the best defensive game the Bruins have played all season long. Game six will be Tuesday night back up in Montreal as they attempt to close out the series.

Gold Star: Tim Thomas (44 saves on 45 shots, 1 goal allowed, .978 save percentage)

Black Star: Johnny Boychuk...he swung and miss on a clear shot, he allowed the puck to escape the offensive zone too many times, and he lost a tire stumbling into the boards. It was a good thing that his defense was solid tonight because his offense was horrible.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game Four

We all can understand that trailing in a playoff series can bring out the best or the worst in a team. For the Bruins, no one would expect people calling out individual players about their lack of determination on the ice. Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli told 98.5 The Sports Hub radio station that defenseman Tomas Kaberle has "not played at the level the Bruins expected."

Was this not the guy that Chiarelli was eager to trade for? Even dating back to last season, he wanted Kaberle on the team. Although the numbers do not show it, Kaberle still has been a factor. The type of style of hockey that Boston and Montreal play when they face each other is not Kaberle's strong point, which is fast and aggressive. Just wait until the series progresses because he should be able to adjust.

Bruins forward Chris Kelly returned to the team today after suffering a facial fracture in game three. He flew back to Boston to get examined and he was later cleared to play as of this afternoon. He met up with the team after they spent the last two days in Lake Placid, New York to get away from Montreal and prepare for tonight's game.

In the first period, Montreal came out hitting often and early. A new energy was among the four Canadiens lines since they made some changes to their roster. Just like the first two games of the series, Montreal grabbed the early lead as Brent Sopel scored a goal that was assisted by Mike Cammalleri and Dave Desharnais. The entire Bruins team played as if they were afraid especially the David Krejci-Nathan Horton-Milan Lucic line. Boston trailed 1-0 at the end of the first period.

Where do I even start with the second period? 29 total shots and five goals were scored in the second 20 minutes. Michael Ryder (BOS) tied the game on one of his signature slap shots. Tomas Kaberle had the assist on a beautiful length-of-the-ice pass (how about that for a zing Chiarelli). Montreal scored the next two goals in 55 seconds as Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn each scored their second playoff goal. Boston came right back with two goals of their own. Andrew Ference took two big hits in order to move the puck, yet he still got back into the play and scored on a great shot from the top of the zone. Patrice Bergeron tied the game at three with a nice pass from Brad Marchand. There was still one more period to be played.

The third period was all about the defense. Both teams held their own blue line very tight and did not break too often. Tim Thomas (BOS) and Carey Price (MTL) were outstanding in the final 20 minutes. The game ended in a tie, but both teams each added a goal. P.K. Subban (MTL) scored on the power play (Patrice Bergeron got called for a horrible hooking call) and Chris Kelly (BOS) scored on a deflected shot in front of the net. The Bruins did a great job of killing a power play at the end of the period and they were able to send the game into sudden death overtime.

The sudden death overtime lasted only 1:59. The Bruins third line (Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder) had a three-on-one advantage on a break away. After a shot by Peverley that was deflected wide, Kelly grabbed the rebound and passed across to Ryder as he shot the dagger into the Montreal crowd scoring his second goal of the game. Thomas stopped 34 shots on 38 attempts. The Bruins won the game 5-4 in overtime and tie the series at 2-2. Game five will be on Saturday at the TD Garden.

Gold Star: Chris Kelly (1 goal, 2 assists, +2 rating,)...he played with a broken bone in his face and he still played at the top of his game. Whether it was making great passes or killing penalties, Kelly had a career night under difficult circumstances.

Black Star: Milan Lucic...something needs to be done with the first line. The Canadiens are clearly planning their defense scheme around Lucic. What is sad about it is that he will not change his game. He freezes on the left side of the ice and hopes the puck will find his stick. Not the way to play in the playoffs.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game Three

The first two games of this series have been disappointing to the standards of the Bruins. They have taken 66 shots in the first two games and only produced one goal. At the end of the day, it does not matter how many shots you take. What matters is getting bodies (particularly forwards) in front of the net to score goals. In the first two games of the series, the Bruins were timid in their offensive approach.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the one individual who used to do that on a nightly basis was Marc Savard. He was one of the best in the league at taking the puck to the net for a shot or a pass. It just goes to show you how valuable he was to this team. If you ask me what the answer was to why Boston could not get more pressure on Montreal in the first two games, I would tell you it was due to the absence of Savard.

As I say that, his replacements had a great game tonight (Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley). Before we get to the game, it needs to be said that Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara made his return to the line up tonight after being sidelined for game two with dehydration. He brought a spark tonight that everyone else on the team fed off of. Three minutes into the game, the Bruins took their first lead of the playoffs when David Krejci scored a goal immediately after the Bruins killed a penalty. Dennis Seidenberg and Patrice Bergeron had the assists.

Later on in the period, Nathan Horton trickled in a goal that put Boston on top by a score of 2-0. As the period progressed, we witnessed the cheap and disgusting tactics that the Canadiens use to get under their opponent's skin. Benoit Pouliot (MTL) launched himself at Johnny Boychuk (BOS) when he had his head facing the boards. That was quickly responded by Andrew Ference (BOS) as he put a nice beating down on Pouliot.

The second period momentum favored Boston at the beginning as Rich Peverley put Boston on top by a score of 3-0 by scoring a goal that was assisted by Mark Recchi. It was at that time when Montreal decided to wake up. Andrei Kostitsyn put the Canadiens on the board after the Bruins defense could not clear the zone.

In the third period, Tomas Plekanec scored Montreal's second goal of the night. Mike Cammalleri had assists on both Montreal goals. Late in the period, Chris Kelly added an empty net goal to lock up the victory for the Bruins as they took game three by a score of 4-2. The road team is undefeated so far in this series. That needs to change for Boston's sake. Game four will be Thursday night at the Belle Centre in Montreal.

Gold Star: Patrice Bergeron (2 assists, +3 rating, 2 shots on goal, 4 hits)

Black Star: Daniel Paille...why does he even bother suiting up for a game? Yes, he is one of the better skaters we have on the team, but lets give Tyler Seguin a shot in his spot. Paille is the definition of a streaky player.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game Two

Boston Bruins center David Krejci said before the game that tonight's game against the Canadiens was a game that they had to win and a game that they will win. Must be the newly grown beard that he is growing that triggered this confidence....but he was right.

If the Bruins fell to Montreal tonight, they would be in a huge hole as they will fall behind two games to none heading back to Montreal (a place where they did not win a game this season). Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was a scratch from the game because he did not receive medical clearance after being hospitalized last night due to dehydration. Shane Hnidy took his place in the line up.

Montreal began the game the same way they started game one: scoring an opportunistic goal. Mike Cammalleri scored his first postseason goal after skating up the weak side and putting in a rebound off of a shot by James Wisniewski. Later in the period, Mathieu Darche added to Montreal's lead by scoring a power play goal.

Here we go again. The Bruins had to fight from behind yet again. Patrice Bergeron gave the TD Garden crowd something to cheer for when he scored Boston's first postseason goal. Mark Recchi and Brad Marchand had the assists. The energy that was generated from that goal was short lived when Yannick Weber gave Montreal another two goal lead. Montreal sat on the puck by playing solid defense to close out another game. Montreal won tonight's game by a score of 3-1.

Gold Star: Patrice Bergeron (1 goal, 6 shots on goal, 14 face-offs won)

Black Star: Milan Lucic...supposedly Lucic plays his best hockey in big games. Well, he did not do that tonight. He could not find the puck. Even when head coach Claude Julien switched up the lines to throw off the Canadiens, Lucic still could not get involved in the play.

Game three will be Monday night at the Belle Centre in Montreal. Will we see Zdeno Chara return to the line up? Will we see Tyler Seguin make his playoff debut? Will the Bruins win? Will Jack Edwards have a heart attack before this season is over? All valid questions believe it or not.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals - Game One

For the 33rd time, the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens faced off against each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Now earlier this week, several ESPN NHL analysts predicted that the Bruins would be skating in June for the cup. First things first, they needed to take care of business against the Habs.

There was a comical story on the NESN website today with a clever headline, stating "The Bruins will show up for a hockey game and the Canadiens will show up for a swim meet...because they will be diving." Quite interesting, but quite true. The Bruins needed to stay disciplined and not give Montreal stupid power plays.

Very early on in the first period, Brian Gionta (MTL) hushed the TD Garden crowd by scoring a goal to give Montreal a 1-0 lead. From that point on, the period belonged to Boston. Why does it take them to conceive a goal in order to wake up? Regardless, the Bruins finished the period with more scoring chances and more hits. But they still trailed at the end of the period. Boston's forwards did a solid job, but the defense could not keep the puck in the offensive zone.

It did not take long for us to see a dive from the "swimming champions" of the NHL. P.K. Subban (MTL) sold a hooking call on David Krejci, giving Montreal a power play chance. About a minute later, Ryan White (MTL) got called for a roughing penalty. So both teams skated 4-on-4 to start the second period.

In the second period, the Bruins were making the Canadiens work for their lead. After two periods, Boston led in shots on goal (26-14) and scoring chances (14-7). Montreal goaltender Carey Price still had a solid period, but they just got all the lucky bounces and it was just the Bruins not being able to capitalize. The Bruins still trailed by one entering the third period.

The third period was very similar to the first two. Boston out played Montreal once again. It is unfortunate that a team loses a game when they clearly were the dominant team. At the end of the day, all that matters is the final score. Brian Gionta added another goal for Montreal and they take game one by a score 2-o. Carey Price made 31 saves to post another career shut out. Game two will be this Saturday night at the Garden.

Gold Star: Chris Kelly...he had a couple of blocked shots and played very well on both sides of the ice. A true veteran who knows how to play smart.

Black Star: Johnny Boychuk...although the entire defense did this tonight, he let more pucks escape the offensive zone than any other defenseman when the Bruins had scoring chances.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Just A Thought...

The Boston Bruins announce that rookie forward Brad Marchand won this year's "7th Player Award." This is the award that is given to the player that exceeded all expectations with his stellar play on the ice.

With all due respect to Brad Marchand, my vote would have gone to goaltender Tim Thomas. Here was a guy who lost his job last year to Tuukka Rask and he had to have off-season hip surgery. Many people felt that he was all done with his career. Now, he led the NHL in goals against average (2.00) and he is in line to win yet another Vezina Trophy.

If you look at professional sports today, everyone has high expectations for rookies. In particular cases, an organization will draft a rookie that will carry the franchise on his shoulders right away (Taylor Hall from the Edmonton Oilers). This situation is true beyond hockey as it exists in all sports. Hats off to Marchand's rookie campaign, but by definition of the "7th Player Award," it should have gone to Thomas.

On a side note, ESPN NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby predicts that the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks will face each other in the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins defeated the Canucks already this season. I hope I did not jinks anything by saying that. See you guys Thursday for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarter finals.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Game 82: The Adventure

Well, this was it. The final regular season game for the 2010-2011 Boston Bruins took place this afternoon in New Jersey as they took on the Devils. As expected, key players got the day off today in order to rest up for the playoffs (Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi, Tim Thomas).

Within the first two minutes of the game, Patrik Elias scored his 21st goal of the season to put New Jersey on top 1-0. About halfway through the first period, Rich Peverley tied the game at one on a shot that resulted from solid passing by Andrew Ference and Michael Ryder. The first period ended with the score tied at one.

The second period was painfully boring. The Bruins only had one shot on goal and neither team committed a penalty to spark a power play. At least those are somewhat exciting. It was quite obvious that the Bruins were playing with no heart. They were very timid and fragile because they did not want to risk an energy at this point of the season. Can't really blame them for that. The score remained tied at one after two periods.

In between periods, NESN put together a video montage on the Bruins season to the song "The Adventure" by Angels and Airwaves. A nice gift to all Bruins fans for a great season. In the third period, the New Jersey Devils scored two goals in a span of five minutes. Vladimir Zharkov scored his second of the season to put the Devils on top 2-1 and Alexander Urbom scored his first career goal to increase their lead to 3-1. Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) scored a late one, but it was all settled by that point. The Bruins fell to the Devils 3-2.

Gold Star: Rich Peverley (1 goal, +1 rating, 1 shot on goal)....solid puck movement and hustle to chase down the puck.

Black Star: Johnny Boychuk...he took a scary tumble earlier in the game but he was able to continue playing. However, he turned over the puck that led to a Devil's goal on a breakaway.

The Boston Bruins finish the season with a record of 46-25-11 with 103 points and the Northeast Division title. They will face the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Game 1 will be on Thursday night.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Game 81: Home Finale

Today was the final home game of the regular season for the Boston Bruins. It was also the final divisional game as well since they took on the Ottawa Senators, a team that completely cleaned house days before the trade deadline and a team that is clearly getting ready for next year.

For the game today, Dennis Seidenberg and Patrice Bergeron were the healthy scratches for Boston. Up until today, Seidenberg played in every game. This is just an opportunity for players to catch a breath before the playoffs start. We should not be surprised if we do not see Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas for tomorrow's finale.

Daniel Paille put Boston on the scoreboard first on a goal that was assisted by Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. It was good to see the entire fourth line contributing to a goal since it is going to be vital for all four lines to be playing consistent and strong come postseason. Before the end of the period, Bobby Butler (OTT) tied the game at one.

In the second period, Nathan Horton scored his 26th goal of the season on a power play. There were seven total penalties in the period alone. In the third period, Rich Peverley had an unassisted goal to put the Bruins on top 3-1 and that is how the game would end. They will finish up the regular season tomorrow in New Jersey as they take on the Devils.

Gold Star: Tim Thomas (31 saves on 32 shots, 1 goal allowed, .969 save percentage)

Black Star: Mark Recchi...even though he has a solid presence in front of the opposing goal, he finished with a -1 rating and did not record a shot. Hang in there Mark.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Game 80: "It's A Bird, It's A plane, It's A Vezina Trophy Candidate"

It is that time of the season. It is time to recognize the Boston Bruins top performers of the 2010-2011 season. Before the game, 98.5 The Sports Hub Bruins play-by-play voice Dave Goucher announced the various awards to recognize certain Bruins players for their work on and off the ice:

Eddie Shore Award (most hustle and determination ) - Shawn Thornton

Elizabeth Dufresne Award (outstanding play at home) - Tim Thomas

John Bucyk (outstanding work in the community) - Andrew Ference

Bruins Radio Network #3 Star Award- Milan Lucic

Bruins Radio Network #2 Star Award- Patrice Bergeron

Bruins Radio Network #1 Star Award- Tim Thomas

After a huge collapse on Monday against the New York Rangers, the Bruins tried to rebound tonight against the other team from New York, the Islanders. Some of the play from Monday's game carried over to the early part of this game because it was a sloppy first half of the period. Boston defenseman Andrew Ference and forward Brad Marchand made two turnovers in their own zone that led to scoring chances. Thank god for Tim Thomas in those situations.

The Bruins fourth line was the key in the first period. Great passing and great puck movement led to shots that produced rebounds. Shawn Thornton was on the right side of one of those rebounds as he put the puck in the net to score his 10th goal of the season. That adds to his season total of 19 points, a career high. Boston had a one goal lead after the first period.

In the second period, both teams had opportunities to score on power play chances. But it was the Islanders who capitalized on the man advantage...and the man disadvantage. Michael Grabner (NYI) scored his 32nd goal of the season on a power play and his 33rd goal of the season on a penalty kill. Dennis Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell scored for Boston in the period as the Bruins took a 3-2 lead into the locker room after the first 40 minutes.

No goals were scored in the third period. However, it was all about the Bruins trying to buckle down and play smart hockey. Tim Thomas made some great stops and the defense kept the blue line very tight. Boston held on to win by a score of 3-2. They now have 101 points with two games left to go in the season.

Gold Star: Shawn Thornton (1 goal, 3 shots on goal, +3 rating)...he played so hard tonight. He still played physical despite the healing cut on the forehead and it looked like he didn't miss a beat.

Black Star: Tomas Kaberle...this was by far his worst game as a Bruin. We didn't see his usual stealer play with the puck and he got beat way too easily on that shorthanded goal.

When Thornton scored his goal tonight, it marked the first time since the 1986-1987 season that Bruins teammates (Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell) recorded double-digit goals and double-digit fights in the same season. Thornton has 10 goals and 14 fighting majors and Campbell has 13 goals and 11 fighting majors. Cam Neely (36 goals, 12 fights) and Nevin Markwart (10 goals, 22 fights) was the duo in the 1986-1987 season. How about that for a stat?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Game 79: Are You Kidding Me?

With only four games left in the regular season, the Bruins have already clinched the Northeast Division. However, they do not want to stop there. Heading into tonight, they are only four points out of first place so a win would be huge. They took on the New York Rangers tonight, a team that currently holds the final playoff spot heading into this game.

The game was held on the Versus Network, which meant that Jack Edwards would not be calling the action. It is a shame because he adds another level of excitement to every game and you can not help but feel pumped. Very disappointing but life goes on. During the morning skate, Bruins forward Milan Lucic took a stick to the face resulting in a cut. He still was in the line up for the game. A sigh of relief for Bruins fans that their leading goal scorer was able to play.

The last time these two teams met, the Rangers won a very tight game in Boston by a score of 1-0. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding as he carried New York on his back during that game. In this game, the first period went by rather quickly partly because it was one of the best played periods by the Bruins all season long. They out shot the Rangers 19-5, won two more faceoffs, and out hit them 10-7. Daniel Paille and Nathan Horton scored for Boston in a span of 1:37 and the Bruins took a 2-0 lead into the locker room after one period.

The second period turned out to be more level. Both teams had plenty of opportunities to put pucks into the net. Chris Kelly (BOS) scored his 13th goal of the season to give Boston a three goal lead. That goal was Kelly's first goal as a Bruin. The Rangers would not go away as Vaclav Prospal scored two goals to pull New York within one. Wojtek Wolski had assists on both goals. A very sloppy period defensively for the Bruins.

As great as the Bruins played in the first period, that is how bad they played in the third period. They played with no sense of urgency at all and it was clear that New York was playing for everything. Brandon Dubinsky (NYR) tied the game at three by scoring his 23rd goal of the season. Less than two minutes later, Michael Sauer (NYR) scored his third goal of the season. The Rangers went on to win the game 5-3.

Do not let the score fool you. Tim Thomas played a good game. He just had no help defensively. Three out of the five goals came as a result of defensive errors and the final goal was an empty net goal. So much for chasing the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins need to learn to close games out when the playoffs come around. Although they are used to blowing a 3-0 lead. Too soon? My apologies. But that's reality.

Gold Star: Daniel Paille (1 goal, 4 shots on goal)...he really played hard and he definitely earned his minutes. When Shawn Thornton returns, Paille proved that he should not be the odd man out.

Black Star: Adam McQuaid...when you have your entire team yelling at you about a blown coverage, you know you had a bad game. He finished with a -2 rating and had a giveaway that led to a goal.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Game 78: The Boys Have Returned

Another afternoon game for the Bruins today as they took on the Atlanta Thrashers. This was a team that started the season on top of the Southeast Division. As the season went on, the team started to fall further down the standings and now they are out of playoff contention.

This is also the first time that the Thrashers returned to the TD Garden since the trade that sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta. In return, the Bruins received Rich Peverley who has been a vital acquisition to this team. He has been a solid player on the third line since his arrival and he will be an important role player when it comes time for the playoffs.

The game today was a rather clean one with only five total penalties, two of them being delay of game penalties and one of them was a hook for a penalty shot. At the end of the first period, the score was tied at one. Mark Recchi scored for Boston and Dustin Byfuglien score for Atlanta. The second period was also a back and forth battle between the two teams. Evander Kane scored for Atlanta to take the lead. However, Daniel Paille scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game.

Michael Ryder put in a penalty shot to give Boston a 3-2 lead and that is how the game would end. With the win, the Boston Bruins clinched the Northeast Division. The overwhelming consensus among Bruins fans is that they will not settle. They have their eyes on getting a higher seed. Defenseman Shane Hnidy made his season debut today in order to give some guys rest heading into the playoffs. Hnidy will only be a depth player once the postseason starts.

Gold Star: Michael Ryder (1 goal, +1 rating, 2 shots on goal, 2 takeaways)

Black Star: Tomas Kaberle...he played below his average minutes today and he was hardly involved in the offensive end. He was on the wrong side of a huge Mark Stuart hit today. That must have been slightly rewarding for Stuart laying a hit on the player who essentially took his spot.