Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Game Twenty Three: The End Of Movember (Yes, Movember. Not November)

The Boston Bruins faced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night for the third time this season. This was game one of a two game home-and-home series between the two division rivals. Toronto and Boston were only separated by one point coming into the game (Toronto with 30 points, Boston with 29 points), so first place in the Northeast Division was on the line in this one.

The key to this game was going to be the play of the first lines for both teams. The Leafs top line of Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak, and Phil Kessel are a dangerous line to compete against. Kessel leads his team in goals (16) and points (31) and Lupul leads his team in assists (18) coming into this game. On the other hand, the B's top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton combined for 11 points in two games against the Leafs this season. Something had to give.

The Leafs grabbed the early lead when Mikhail Grabovski scored at 7:29 of the first period. Clarke MacArthur sent a long bouncing pass over to Grabovski and slid the puck past Tim Thomas. After that goal, Boston put heavy pressure on Toronto and dominated the rest of the period. At 15:08, Milan Lucic tied the game up at one on assists from Tyler Seguin and Zdeno Chara. Both first period goals were power play goals.

Both teams alternated scoring chances in the second period. There was a ten minute stretch where Thomas and Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson made some great stops on rushes by their opponent. However, within that stretch the Bruins were able to grab the lead for the first time in the game. Krejci scored his fourth goal of the season by going hard to the net and putting in a deflected shot by Horton.

The Leafs tied the game up four minutes later when Kessel led a 2-on-1 with Lupul up ice after beating Chara to the puck. Kessel passed the puck over to Lupul and shot it past Thomas into the goal. The assist by Kessel was his first point against Boston this season. Chara scored his fifth goal of the season to put the B's back on top later on in the period.

The fast-paced play continued into the third period. In the final 20 minutes, Boston added three more goals as they continue to dominate late in games. They now have a plus-30 goal differential in the second and third periods this season. Benoit Pouliot scored his third goal of the season when he was fed the puck by Joe Corvo behind the net. The goal came just as their power play expired.

Matt Frattin gave Toronto a bit of hope when he beat Thomas from a really tough angle. All he needed was an inch of space and he found it. Lucic scored his second goal of the game on Krejci's second assist of the game. Brad Marchand added an empty net goal to seal the victory. Boston defeated Toronto by a score of 6-3.

The Bruins finish the month of November with a 12-0-1 record. The last time they finished a calendar month without a regulation loss was January 1969. The B's now possess a 15-7-1 record and 31 points, surpassing the Maple Leafs for the division lead.

Boston will be back in action for game two of the home-and-home series against Toronto on Saturday night at the TD Garden.

Gold Star: David Krejci (1 goal, 2 assists, plus-2 rating, 3 shots on goal)...He sure looked like a first-line center in this game. Has his soft hands finally returned?

Black Star: Adam McQuaid...He finished the night with a minus-2 rating and he could not even get a shot on goal. You should at least be able to get a shot on goal as a defenseman.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ryan Miller Does Not Have A Concussion...Big Surprise (Sarcastic Tone)

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller reported to the media on Monday that he does not feel any concussion symptoms. An MRI confirmed that it was a neck injury, which makes much more sense.

When Bruins forward Milan Lucic collided into him on November 12, it triggered an uproar in the Sabres locker room for the lack of retaliation against Lucic. Miller has been out of action since leaving that game. No one really judged him when he said he had a concussion due to the severity of head injuries in the NHL.

However, something did not sit right with a lot of fans in Boston with the diagnosis of Miller's alleged concussion. His neck snapped awkwardly when his helmet was knocked off of his head. A confirmed aggravated disc sounds more accurate.

What Miller was trying to prove by saying that he had a concussion is a mystery, considering that his head did not even come close to Lucic's shoulder or the ice. A goaltender that had so much respect around the league for representing the United States in the Olympics just lost most of it.

The sad part about it is that it could have been avoided.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Game Twenty Two: Peverley Shows Winnipeg What They Let Go

The Bruins welcomed in the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night just one day after losing in a shootout to the Detroit Red Wings. The B's sent the Jets flying out of Boston by defeating them 4-2.

Former Bruins Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart, who currently play for Winnipeg, each made their return to the TD Garden in the game. They must have had mixed emotions coming back to an arena where they used to play for a team that won the Stanley Cup last season. What can you do though? This is a business and trades are part of this business.

Boston received Rich Peverley in that respective trade last season before the trade deadline when the Jets were the Atlanta Thrashers. Peverley really stood out in this game as he probably had something to prove to his old team.

Evander Kane and Dustin Byfuglien had early goals for the Jets as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Boston went on to score four unanswered goals. Zdeno Chara scored on the power play with assists from David Krejci and Dennis Seidenberg. Chris Kelly scored two goals in this game, bringing his goal total up to nine.

Kelly's first goal was a short-handed goal. He is a very versatile player that can turn defense into instant offense. Brad Marchand added an empty netter to seal the victory. Tim Thomas stopped 40 shots on 42 attempts, the highest number he has faced so far this season.

Many Bruins did not seem to cooperate with the ice in this game. Bruins defenseman Joe Corvo really could not find the right footing which forced him to take a holding penalty because he had to stop a break away. Thomas also seemed a little bit off-balanced as well.

The Bruins still have yet to lose in regulation in the month of November having received points in all 12 games. They currently possess a 14-7-1 record and 29 points. The B's will play their final game of the month on Wednesday when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs in game one of a home-and-home series.

Gold Star: Rich Peverley (2 assists)...Kelly may have scored the goals but if it was not for Peverley's fast penetration into the Bruins offensive zone, the goals would not have happened. The defense pulled back to cover Peverley and that opened up the space for Kelly to score. He rightfully deserved those hard earned two assists.

Black Star: Milan Lucic...If you are not going to be an offensive presence you at least have to be a physical presence. He had no real good scoring chances and he only had one hit. He has to be better than that.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Game Twenty One: It Ends Here

It is rare when we see an "Original Six" game between the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings. It is even more rare when we see a game where the puck drops at 1:00pm. On Black Friday we have the pleasure of seeing both of these occurrences take place.

For those of you anticipating a game similar to what happened between the B's and the Buffalo Sabres, you were in the wrong arena for this one. The Red Wings play a very quick type of game that sometimes lacks physicality. Their style of play is not at all what we are used to seeing from teams around the NHL. However, they have a strong veteran presence that has shaped this team into one of the best squads in the league.

The Bruins played an aggressive opening period. The fore-checking pressure made it difficult for the Red Wings to enter the Bruins zone. They also had the better scoring chances which has been a recurring thing for Boston in the opening period of games. The B's fell behind when Valtteri Filppula received a good pass Henrik Zetterberg and slid the puck under Tuukka Rask. Boston finished the first period 0 for 2 on the power play.

The Bruins tied the game up early in the second period. Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard turned the puck over behind his own net to Nathan Horton. He fed the puck in front to Daniel Paille where he put it in the net. Detroit grabbed the lead back when Pavel Datsyuk scored his sixth goal of the season with a great move that beat Rask. Horton had some great chances to score but could not get the puck to bounce the right way for him.

After some great rushes by both teams to begin the third period, Patrice Bergeron tied the game up at two after he forced a turnover and blasted the puck past Howard. Prior to that play, the line of Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin had not been as explosive as we have seen in previous games. The rest of the period consisted of Boston trying to contain Detroit and that forced Rask to make some good saves.

The score was level at two at the end of regulation. The Bruins had a great opportunity to win the game in overtime with only seconds left. Gregory Campbell won a face-off back to Zdeno Chara but he shot the puck slightly wide. The game was decided in a shootout.

Detroit beat Rask twice in the shootout. Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi had the goals for Detroit. Horton had the lone goal for the B's. The Red Wings defeated the Bruins by a score of 3-2, ending the win streak of the Bruins. The B's will be back in action Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

Gold Star: Shawn Thornton...He had a great game in ways that most people will not think of. He knows his role on the team and being physical put his team in the best spot to win. Having some good scoring chances helps too.

Black Star: Johnny Boychuk...He was on the ice for both Detroit goals in regulation. You have to play a harder game when you play next to Zdeno Chara.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Game Twenty: An Ugly Way To Get To Ten

In a game that was supposed to be built as a game where the Bruins were trying to extend their win streak quickly became an afterthought. The Buffalo Sabres were seemingly out to extract revenge on the B's Wednesday night. Why? In case the memory went away, Bruins forward Milan Lucic knocked out their franchise goaltender Ryan Miller with an alleged concussion back on November 12.

It was a hit that was only whistled for a two minute charging penalty. Nothing more. In my opinion, the league should not have even held a hearing with Lucic for the hit. However, Brendon Shanahan held the hearing and found nothing wrong with the hit, thus not suspending Lucic. If Shanahan (who suspends players left and right) found nothing wrong with the hit then their should not be an argument.

As far as the game, both the Sabres and Bruins came into the game where the winner would take over sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division. Lucic came into the game with only one point in his last five games. He looked to step up his game in this one. Tim Thomas got the start in goal once again in hopes of recording his third consecutive shutout.

Lucic dropped the gloves with Paul Gaustad on his first shift. The response from the Sabres immediately following the fight was crucial. They came out playing much harder than the Bruins in the first period. Buffalo had two power play goals, scored by Christian Ehroff and Thomas Vanek respectively.

The calls may have been a bit questionable, but they cannot use that as an excuse because you have to play through it as professionals. A small five-on-five scrum broke out after Gaustad charged into Brad Marchand.

In the scrum, Zdeno Chara (fighting) and Adam McQuaid (roughing) were sent to the box. Losing two defensemen for an extended period of time is costly. Robyn Regehr (fighting) and Corey Tropp (roughing) of the Sabres were also sent to the box.

A much better period for the Bruins in the second period. They controlled the puck and started to make better plays with it. Tyler Seguin tied his career high in goals when he scored his 12th of the season on the power play. He blasted a slap shot past Buffalo goaltender Jhonas Enroth.

T.J. Brennan netted his first career NHL goal to put Buffalo back on top by two goals. Marchand pulled Boston back within one five minutes later. He took a hit at center ice but continued back into the play and he put the puck in the net after a deflected shot. Patrice Bergeron had an assist on both second period goals.

The game began to settle down even more for both teams during the third period. No one would even think that all of that fighting and physical play occurred during the first half of this game. Chara tied the game up at three on the power play. The score remained tied through the final 20 minutes and through overtime.

In the shootout, Thomas and Enroth held their opposition scoreless through the first four rounds. It was in the fifth round that Benoit Pouliot won the game for Boston by capitalizing on his shootout goal. Pouliot really struggled in the game against Montreal. His confidence is now back with him in a big way.

The victory extends Boston's win streak to ten games and it also gives them sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division. Their next game will be Friday afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings at the TD Garden.

Gold Star: Zdeno Chara (1 goal, 7 shots on goal)...He put so much pressure on the Sabres by being a big offensive presence. He also helped out Thomas by saving a sure goal.

Black Star: Gregory Campbell...When he has great games it is hard to notice. However, when he has a bad game it sticks out very much. He was not a great penalty killer in this game and was not as physical as we are used to seeing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Game Nineteen: They Just Find A Way

Whenever the Bruins and Canadiens get together, we expect the fast-paced and physical type of play we are used to seeing. More recently, it has been all about the goaltending. Tim Thomas and Carey Price stole the show once again for their respective teams on Monday night.

The B's knocked off the Habs by a score of 1-0. They dictated the game despite being out-shot 33-18. They slowed down the game and grinded out the victory, something that Bruins head coach Claude Julien preaches every single day.

The only goal of the game came at 15:41 of the first period. Andrew Ference blasted a shot past Price after some great passing by Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. The play occurred during a delayed penalty.

From then on, it was all about the defense for Boston. Yes they have won nine straight games at this point, but the defense and goaltender had not really been challenged. Adam McQuaid and Zdeno Chara each had a great game, combining for five hits. They also made some game-saving blocked shots as the Canadiens were making their late rushes. Honestly, the Bruins needed to be tested in a game like this.

With the win, the Bruins now sit on top of the Northeast Division with a 12-7-0 record. It only took 16 days for the B's to go from worst to first. The last time the Bruins lost a game was over two weeks ago when they dropped both games in a home-and-home series against this very same Canadiens team.

Boston goes for ten in a row on Wednesday night when they travel to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. I am not sure but I think that is going to be an interesting game........

Gold Star: Tim Thomas: (33 saves on 33 shots, no goals allowed)...Thomas recorded his third shutout of the season Monday against Montreal. He proved that he still is one of the top goaltenders in the NHL.

Black Star: Benoit Pouliot...This was his worst game as a member of the black and gold. After getting hit (a clean hit by the way) by Alexei Emelin, he goes and hooks him in retaliation. Just a stupid penalty. Once he took a high-sticking penalty that gave Montreal a four minute power play opportunity, he did not see ice time for the rest of the game.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Game Eighteen: Eight In A Row

In the words of Jack Edwards, "When you are hot, you are smoking."

Even though he was referring to Tyler Seguin when he uttered that phrase a little over a week ago, that phrase is now relevant to the entire Boston Bruins team at this point in time. They picked up their eighth straight victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night and they did it in most convincing fashion with a score of 6-0.

The Bruins remain undefeated this season when entering the third period with a lead (8-0-0). They carried a 3-0 lead into the final 20 minutes where they proceeded to add three more goals to help secure another shutout victory for Tim Thomas.

This game was one-sided from the opening face-off. Just to show you how dominating the B's were against the Isles, they out-shot New York 13-2 in the first period and that forced a goaltender change. Rick DiPietro was replaced by Anders Nilsson after allowing three goals on 13 shots.

Nilsson held the Bruins in check in the second period, but he could not contain them for long in the third period. Chris Kelly scored two goals and an assist in a huge offensive breakout game for the veteran center. Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference, and Zdeno Chara each had a goal as well.

Johnny Boychuk made his return to the line-up for Saturday's game, contributing in a huge way on the defensive end of the ice. Joe Corvo also had a big game by finishing the night with an assist and a plus-4 rating.

Not a bad way to begin a three game road trip. The Bruins have a tough week ahead of them. They will travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens on Monday night.

Gold Star: Chris Kelly (2 goals, 1 assist, plus-3 rating, 4 shots on goal, 62% face-offs won).

Black Star: Daniel Paille...Even though he is rocking the face cage, he is still looking a little timid out there and his speed seems to be lacking. Despite his slow game, he still needs to be giving some slack in order to return to form after the facial injury. However, it should not be for too much longer.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Game Seventeen: A Win To End The Home Stand

It was not the best game the Boston Bruins have played this season, but they got the job done. They defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 2-1 in a shootout Thursday night. They have now won seven straight games and went 5-0 during their five game home stand, pushing them up into the top ten teams in the Eastern Conference.

Daniel Paille made his return to the line-up for this game. He had to wear a full face cage to protect his face from the aftermath of getting hit in the face with a slap shot.

Both teams had trouble finding their rhythm. The Blue Jackets had more shots and better opportunities during the first half of the game. Columbus out-shot Boston 31-27 to finish the game and dominated the face-off dot (30-24). All that matters is the final score.

The Blue Jackets got on the board first when they scored a power play goal that was tipped in by Derek Mackenzie. The Bruins evened the score at one with an ugly goal, a goal just as ugly as their opposition's goal. Adam McQuaid, who was paired up with Zdeno Chara due to Johnny Boychuk's absence, blasted the puck from the top of the blue line and into the goal.

Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with Jared Boll for a good bout. That seemed to put a charge into the Columbus offense as they kept firing shots on net left and right.

Tuukka Rask and Curtis Sanford kept the score close in the third period by making some crucial saves on shots that could have easily gone in. The game went into overtime where the Bruins failed to capitalize on a power play opportunity. The Bruins had to kill off a Columbus power play as the overtime expired.

Rich Peverley and David Krejci had the shootout goals for the B's and the only Blue Jackets shootout goal was scored by Mark Letestu. Rask finished the night with a dominant performance, hopefully silencing all of the trade rumors that have been floating his way lately. The Bruins will hit the road for a Saturday night game against the New York Islanders.

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask (30 saves on 31 shots, 1 goal allowed, .968 save percentage).

Black Star: Steven Kampfer...He had some key turnovers that could have easily turned into goals by Columbus. Rask and Andrew Ference were able to bail him out. You noticed that his minutes began to decrease as the game went along.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Game Sixteen: Skating With The Devils

Tuesday was Military Appreciation Night at the TD Garden. Ironically, the Bruins went into battle against the New Jersey Devils. The B’s held off the Devils to take this game by a score of 4-3.

This was the first meeting of the season between the two teams and both were coming off of Saturday night victories. The Bruins have now won six straight games after starting the season with a 3-7-0 record.

Tim Thomas got the start in goal as he opposed Johan Hedberg. Both goaltenders have at least two game win streaks under their belt in this very early season. The Devils outshot the B’s 12-8 in a very physical opening period. Both teams combined for 25 hits in the first 20 minutes alone. The second line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin had some great scoring chances and put a lot of pressure on the New Jersey defense.

The second period opened up more between the two teams. Due to a Marchand roughing penalty and a Johnny Boychuk delay of game penalty, the Bruins skated 5-on-3 defending the power play. At 10:46 of the second period, David Clarkson put the Devils on the board first. The goal snapped a 0 for 22 power play drought. Petr Sykora and Zack Parise had the assists.

At 14:52 of the second period, Chris Kelly tied the game up after he put the puck past Hedberg from a rebound shot by Gregory Campbell. That goal was Kelly’s fifth goal of the season.

It was only a matter of time before the second line produced on the scoreboard. Just six seconds into the third period, Marchand put the B’s on top for the first time in the game. Immediately after Bergeron won the face-off back to Zdeno Chara, he sent Marchand on a breakaway with a good pass. Marchand currently has a six game point streak.

After New Jersey tied the game up again less than two minutes later, Shawn Thornton put Boston back on top scoring his first goal of the season. Jordan Caron, who skated with the fourth line in the game, had an assist along with Campbell on the play. Many were wondering when the fourth line was going to break out and this was the game. Campbell had two assists, Thornton had a goal, and Caron had an assist.

Caron took the place of Benoit Pouliot on the fourth line and Pouliot skated on the third line. The switch benefited for both players because Pouliot gave the Bruins the lead with a little over three minutes remaining in the third period. The goal was assisted Joe Corvo and Rich Peverley.

Nick Palmieri had two goals and Parise had two assists for the Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey’s best offensive threat, ended up missing Tuesday’s game due to a lingering injury. A Devils team without the services of their star player gave the B’s all they could handle.

The Bruins will conclude their five game home stand Thursday night when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Gold Star: Gregory Campbell (2 assists, +2 rating)...A really great game for the fourth-line center. He knows how to do the little things right.

Black Star: David Krejci...Another one of those games where Krejci disappears. Besides that one good hit he delivered in the Bruins defensive end, not much to say about his game.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Game Fifteen: This Is Going To Be A Heated Rivalry

The third period seems to be the Boston Bruins favorite period to play. During this now five-game win streak, the Bruins have unloaded in the third period in each of those games. On Saturday, they put up three goals in the final 20 minutes to defeat the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 6-2.

The B's are now above five hundred (8-7-0) for the first time this season. Despite being tied for fourth in the Northeast Division, Boston holds the league's best +/- differential with a +17.

Tim Thomas got the start in goal on Saturday as he opposed another Vezina Trophy winner in Ryan Miller. Andrew Ference missed the game with a lower body injury and he was replaced by Steven Kampfer. Rich Peverley returned to the line-up after missing the last two games with an undisclosed injury. Zach Hamill once again played for the Bruins, making Benoit Pouliot the healthy scratch.

Thomas Vanek put the Sabres on top early after shooting the puck off of the back of Thomas causing the puck to bounce into the goal. Later on in the first period, Milan Lucic charged into Miller chasing a puck that got away from him. Tempers rose momentarily, however that was the turning point for the Bruins.

Boston went on to score six straight goals. Tyler Seguin had two goals in this game, a player who I predicted would score 30 goals this season. His two goals against the Sabres were goals 10 and 11. Fifteen games in and he is already more than a third of the way there. Peverley, Brad Marchand, Chris Kelly, and Nathan Horton also scored goals for the B's.

As the game went on, the play on the ice became more chippy. Patrick Kaleta got into it with several Bruins, including Shawn Thornton. Both were given ten minute misconducts at the end of the game. Marc-Andre Gragnani added a late power play goal for Buffalo.

Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk each got credited with an assist that should have been talked about more than the goals they assisted. Bergeron set up Seguin's second goal by drawing three defenders and passing the puck behind his back for Seguin to blast home. Boychuk assisted Horton's goal by chipping the puck off the glass and that led to a breakaway. Just great plays by skilled players. Another strong effort by Thomas in goal supported by a strong offensive performance by his teammates helped cap of this victory.

Following the game, Miller had some strong words for Lucic regarding the incident when he charged into him chasing a puck: "I just wanted to say what a gutless piece of **** he is. Everyone in this city sees him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he played. That was gutless."

Not only does everyone in this city see him as a tough and solid player, but every team in the league believes that as well. I am not excusing what he did. But let's be honest right now; it was a sudden play and his natural reaction was to step into a hit. Did anyone forget that you swiped your stick at him after? Don't react that way because you got pulled from the game. This trash talk will set up some games between these two teams where the actual sport of hockey will not be the focal point and that is unfortunate

Daniel Paille is still listed as day-to-day after nose surgery. His status for the Bruins next game is not yet known. They will host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Gold Star: Tyler Seguin (2 goals, 1 assist, +3 rating, 4 shots on goal)...What else can we say about this kid? The future of the franchise is here right before our eyes.

Black Star: Jordan Caron...He was the only Bruin who finished with a -1 rating. Coming off of two huge games prior to the Sabres game, he did not play a strong game to follow them up.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Game Fourteen: Taylor vs. Tyler II

The Edmonton Oilers visited the TD Garden Thursday night for a cross-conference game with the Boston Bruins. For the second straight year, both times these two teams got together they would be surrounded by the storyline of Taylor Hall vs. Tyler Seguin.

A friendly reminder, Hall was selected number one overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, the only player selected before Seguin. The Bruins and the Oilers had the opportunity to hold workouts with both players because it was a very real possibility that Seguin was going to go number one in that year's draft. As Bruins fans, are we not excited that Edmonton went with Hall?

Seguin got the better of Hall in Thursday's meeting as Seguin tallied a goal and an assist in Boston's 6-3 victory over Edmonton.

Rich Peverley was a late scratch from the game and Daniel Paille was recovering from nose surgery. Therefore, Zach Hamill got the call-up for the Bruins and skated on the third line with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron. Hamill played solid, recording an assist and drawing two penalties.

The Bruins are now in the middle 10th in the league in terms of power play goals as they added two more goals on the man advantage in this game, scored by Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand. Tuukka Rask was in goal for the second straight game and he picked up his second victory of the season.

This year's first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked up a goal that was assisted by Hall. Ryan Smyth had two goals for the Oilers in this game.

Andrew Ference left the game with an undisclosed injury and his status for the Bruins next game on Saturday is unknown. Boston will host divisional rival Buffalo Sabres.

Gold Star: Joe Corvo...He picked up three assists and helped out a great deal in the offensive zone. Corvo is quickly getting used to the system the Bruins use, which is primarily a zone defense.

Black Star: Zdeno Chara...Usually Chara makes very little mistakes. In Thursday's game he just did not seem to play the tight defense we are used to seeing. The defensive pairs, however, were rotated due to Ference's injury.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Game Thirteen: Breakout Night

The Boston Bruins knocked off the New York Islanders Monday night by a score of 6-2 as they start a five game home stand off the right way. The B's now have won three straight games. They are slowly, but surely, digging themselves out of that early-season slump.

The Bruins led 3-2 after the first period. Benoit Pouliot scored his first goal of the season after a Jordan Caron shot deflected to his stick and he just tapped the puck into the goal. Pouliot was activated for this game due to an undisclosed injury to Rich Peverley.

Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin had the other two Boston goals in the opening period. Horton's goal was a power play goal, the only power play opportunity of the game for Boston. They were perfect on the man advantage in Monday's game, technically speaking.......

Anyway, Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner had the two goals for the Islanders. Along with John Tavares, Moulson and Grabner are a very underrated first line in the NHL. All three players contributed to the two goals (Tavares had an assist and both Moulson and Grabner each had a goal and an assist). Unfortunately, the Islanders do not have much beyond that top line.

The Bruins went on to add three more goals in the third period. The top line of Horton, Milan Lucic and David Krejci had the goals. The first line played the way a top line should, combining for four goals and four assists. The defense played very tight, allowing Tuukka Rask to get his first win of the season. Finally some goal support.

A scary moment in the third period occurred when Islanders defenseman Steve Staios blasted a slap shot right into the face of Bruins forward Daniel Paille. After laying on the ice for several minutes, he was able to get to his feet and skate off the ice with a blood-soaked towel covering his face. He did end up leaving the game and he did not return. Paille will be examined by a specialist Tuesday to determine if there is a significant head injury.

Boston improves to 6-7-0 on the year. Their next game will be Thursday night at the TD Garden when they take on the Edmonton Oilers.

Gold Star: Nathan Horton (2 goals, 1 assist, +1 rating).

Black Star: Chris Kelly...A tough game for Kelly as the referees were not making it easy on him. He got called for questionable penalties and could not get any momentum going.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Game Twelve: Yup, We Have A Star

For the first time this season, the Boston Bruins won back-to-back games. They did so by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight on the road and they did it in most convincing fashion. The final score was Boston 7, Toronto 0.

Despite the one-sided score, the Maple Leafs had more shots on goal (25-20), they won more face-offs (29-24), and they had more scoring chances as crazy as that may seem.

Tyler Seguin had his first career hat trick. Seguin had the only goal of the first period and it was a power play goal assisted by Rich Peverley and Patrice Bergeron. His second goal should be a candidate for goal of the year. He slapped the puck out of mid-air with his stick and carefully placed it over the left shoulder of Leafs goaltender Ben Scrivens into the goal. His third goal came later in the second period.

The Bruins had it going on all offensive fronts tonight, not just with Seguin. Milan Lucic had two goals and an assist in this game. Bergeron had three assists. Zdeno Chara had two assists. David Krejci had a goal and two assists. Every player was getting involved but it was overshadowed by Seguin's career night. The fact that they forced Toronto to change goaltenders was lost in the mix as well.

Tim Thomas stopped all 25 shots he faced and he shut the door down against the Maple Leafs. He robbed Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul on several occasions. However, the defense in front of him was shaky at times tonight. Dennis Seidenberg is beginning to become invisible and Johnny Boychuk turned the puck over three times on one shift.

It would not surprise me if Boychuk does not return here next season. Steven Kampfer is NHL ready and he is just waiting for something like a trade or (god forbid) an injury to take place in order for him to get his chance.

Jordan Caron has had a great stretch of games lately. He is winning the battle against Benoit Pouliot, a player we went out and signed. I said from the beginning that Bruins management did not need to go out and get another winger to replace Mark Recchi because Caron has every attribute he had. He is proving the organization wrong and myself right. Thank you.

The Bruins next game will be Monday night at the TD Garden against the New York Islanders.

Gold Star: Tyler Seguin (3 goals, +2 rating, 3 shots on goal)

Black Star: Nathan Horton...Now we have a better understanding as to why Horton has not played that well thus far. His concussion has healed, but the memory still lingers and he is still afraid to expose himself too much on the ice.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Game Eleven: It's About Time

Seriously I mean it when I say it is about time. The Boston Bruins defeated the Ottawa Senators by a score of 5-3. That means the negative talk is over. We can all exhale a big sigh of relief.

Not quite.

The Bruins still hold the last place in the Northeast Division and knocking off a divisional rival like they did tonight is a step in the right direction. But they still need to dig themselves out of the early hole that they have created.

Boston actually fell behind again in the opening period. Nick Foligno and Stephane Da Costa had the goals for Ottawa in the first 20 minutes. Milan Lucic scored a power play goal in between the opposing tallies. The power play looked very well tonight for Boston despite only capitalizing on one man advantage. They worked the puck around and took high percentage shots.

By the end of the second period, the Bruins had taken the lead. Patrice Bergeron scored his third goal of the season after receiving a nice pass from Tyler Seguin. Chris Kelly, who is not known for his offensive capabilities, had a beautiful goal near the top of the point. It was set up by Rich Peverley and Zdeno Chara. Both Peverley and Chara each had two assists in this game.

Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille had the third period goals for Boston and Jared Cowen had the lone third period goal for Ottawa. 12 different players had points for the Bruins. Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell dropped the gloves with Zenon Konopka and Zack Smith, respectively. Thornton and Campbell did their job by picking their spots and controlling their emotions, something no one did during the past two games with the Montreal Canadiens. They also had assists in the game too. All they needed was a goal each and they would have had Gordie Howe hat tricks....hey it's funny to imagine things right?

All kidding aside, this is a Bruins team that we are used to seeing from season's past. They played their style of hockey and defeated an Ottawa team that was riding a six game win streak. The B's next game will be Saturday night in Toronto when they take on the first place Maple Leafs.

Gold Star: Zdeno Chara...Along with the two assists, he was a huge physical presence on the ice.

Black Star: David Krejci...I am getting sick of Krejci already this season. There are times where it seems like he does not want to play hard. His wingers (Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton) are playing better, but I do not think it is because of him. He is not a first-line center.