Saturday, March 23, 2013

Game 30: What Is Frustration? When You Do Everything But Score

The Northeast Division is quickly becoming one of the strongest divisions in the NHL. With all but one team (Buffalo) in the playoff picture, every divisional game from here on out will be important.

The Boston Bruins traveled to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs in the final game of their four-game road trip. On this particular Saturday night, it was also Hockey Night in Canada. 

Despite all of their injuries as of late, the B's are still hanging around and competing for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Entering this game, they were only two points back of the Montreal Canadiens for the top spot in the division. 

Speaking of injuries, the Maple Leafs recently got back forward Joffrey Lupul from a serious injury. However, he sat this game out because he was serving a two-game suspension. Things just never seem to go right for the Leafs. Would this be the night that they finally get a victory over the Bruins?

Anton Khudobin was back in goal for the Bruins. Matt Bartkowski was recalled from Providence and made his season debut in place of Johnny Boychuk in this game. Ironically, he took a puck off the leg at Friday's practice and left the ice. Boychuk is listed as day-to-day. Rich Peverley made his return to the lineup as well.

Due to the sub-par roster that the Bruins had to send out onto the ice for this game, there was a lot of line switching and defensive pair shuffling that started right away in the first period. There was sloppy play from both sides, but the Bruins had more scoring chances. However, Nazem Kadri (a.k.a. The New Bruins Killer) beat Khudobin near side for his 14th goal of the season.

In the second period, the Leafs took over as the more physical team. While they were winning puck battles in the neutral zone, the Bruins continued to put pressure on Leafs goaltender James Reimer. They outshot Toronto 20-9 through the first two periods, yet they fell into a deeper hole when the Leafs increased their lead on a goal by Mikhail Grabovski. 

After Khudobin allowed a very soft goal to begin the third period, he was pulled in favor of Tuukka Rask. That was the lone sour moment of the period for the Bruins because they absolutely took over the game. They were able to crawl back into it after goals from Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference, but it was too little, too late. The Leafs ended their eight-game drought against the B's and grabbed the 3-2 home victory.

We will not have to wait long to see the Maple Leafs again. They will face the Bruins on Monday night at the TD Garden.

Gold Star: Aaron Johnson...He was solid in his 19 minutes of ice time. This was a performance he could be proud of and use to make his game even better.

Black Star: Milan Lucic...It is hard to understand why he is playing below his standards as of late. It looks as if he wants no part of getting physical along the boards, which was the key reason why the Maple Leafs scored their second goal. 

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