Sunday, April 28, 2013

Game 48: This Was Not Just The Last Entry of the Season....

This could have very well been my last individual game entry of this blog. I understand that no one really reads this. Lets be honest, I'm realistic. At this point, this blog has served its purpose and I had a lot of fun doing it. I may do a round-by-round recap of the playoffs, but as of now this will be my last post for some time.....

We have finally reached the conclusion of the 2013 NHL season. Even though this was a condensed and shortened season, this 48-game schedule provided us with some of the most memorable games we have seen in recent memory. 

As for the Boston Bruins, they had to play one last game while the rest of the league planned for either the postseason or the offseason. They were in action back at home on Sunday night against the Ottawa Senators. 

Yes, technically the Northeast Division belonged to the Montreal Canadiens this season, but four teams from the division made the playoffs, including the Senators. Would this also be what we see in the first round of the playoffs? There would be 60 minutes standing in the way of that answer.

The Bruins recorded victories in all four meetings heading into this game, but all were one-goal games and two required either overtime or a shootout. The Sens have been a tough team to play against and they will be here for years to come. Boston was set to have its hands full on this night as well with the recent return of Erik Karlsson. He missed ample time with an Achilles laceration. 

Tuukka Rask got the final regular season start in goal for the Bruins in this game. All other spots in the lineup remained the same as the previous game.

In the first period, both teams were evenly matched right down the middle. The Bruins and Senators each had good scoring chances and they were piling on the hits. For the B's, they seemed to be challenging Senators goaltender Robin Lehner much more, but could not break through. Instead, they were victims of dumb penalties once again. Ottawa was able to break through on a goal by Erik Condra to take the lead.

The Senators pretty much controlled the puck possession for most of the second period, which was somewhat surprising considering the number of scoring chances the Bruins had to begin the game. After the Sens increased their lead on a goal scored by Jared Cowen, the Bruins finally broke through with a power play goal to cut the deficit in half. Wade Redden took a monster hit to send the puck in front of the net for Rich Peverley to tap home. The big hits kept occurring throughout the game. Old-school hockey at its best.

Once the third period started, Boston picked up right where it left off with the scoring. Dennis Seidenberg blasted a shot from the top of the zone to tie the game. From that point on, Ottawa took over the game. They put heavy pressure on the Bruins to the point where they could not have clean breaks out of their own zone. Two late goals by the Senators gave them the 4-2 victory over the Bruins.

Bring on the playoffs. The Stanley Cup playoffs will begin this upcoming week for the Bruins when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Gold Star: Kaspars Daugavins...For the first time in a Bruins sweater, he actually used his speed and made his presence known.

Black Star: Carl Soderberg...What an awful performance by the new forward. His sloppy play stood out more than the shaky defensive effort by the Bruins, and that is saying something. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Game 47: It Will Come Down To The Last Day

The Eastern Conference is all set. With two games left to play, the Boston Bruins are officially one of the eight teams that will play postseason hockey for the Eastern Conference title.

Their opponent on Saturday night will also be in the playoffs come next week. The B's traveled to Washington to take on the Capitals to close out their season series with the Southeast Division. This was also their final road game of the regular season. 

We all know that the Capitals knocked off the Bruins in the first round of last year's Stanley Cup playoffs. Even though we may not see that particular matchup since the Caps won the division this year, the focus was on Saturday night's game. Additionally, this Washington team seems to be catching fire at the right time yet again due to some key additions at the trade deadline. 

The B's were coming off a good win on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They hoped to use that momentum and clinch the Northeast Division against Washington. If they picked up the win, they would also take the season series. Judging from their last meeting with Washington, this game was fixing to be tough and physical to say the least. 

Not so much actually.

Tuukka Rask was back between the pipes for Boston. Nathan Horton remained out of the lineup due to a wrist injury. He was replaced by Kaspars Daugavins. Matt Bartkowski was sent down to Providence prior to the game, clearing up any controversy as to who will actually make the playoff roster. Also, Jaromir Jagr did not travel with the team since he is battling the flu. Hopefully, he will be ready to go for the season finale.

Through the first two periods, the Bruins had control of the puck and the game. They jumped out to a two-goal lead. Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference recorded the tallies for the Bruins. The flow of the game fell right into the B's hands up until that point. With that being said, both teams tested the opposing goaltender on several occasions.

In the third period, the Capitals got some decent chances. Mike Green made the most of those chances when he scored two power play goals to tie the game. The Bruins once again could not hold it together in the third period. Although they made it interesting towards the end of the game, the score remained tied and we headed for overtime. 

In the extra period, Zdeno Chara got whistled for a costly penalty, which led to a Capitals power play. From there, Eric Fehr popped in a rebound shot to end the game and give Washington the 3-2 victory. The theme of this game was the number of penalties taken by the Bruins and the awful play of the penalty killing unit. 

The Bruins will close out the regular season on Sunday night when they take on the Ottawa Senators.

Gold Star: Milan Lucic (1 goal, 1 assist, plus-2 rating)...This was the Milan Lucic of old that we have come to know and love. Hopefully, he can keep this up for the playoffs.

Black Star(s): Penalty Killing Unit...Three goals were scored on one of the best short-handed teams in the league. They picked a game where they needed points to look terrible. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Game 46: Key Two Points

This was the week where teams can try to rest their players and take a deep breath before the onslaught of the playoffs begin. This is not the case for the Boston Bruins.

They had to make up two games this week that were postponed due to circumstances beyond their control. On Thursday night, they took on the Tampa Bay Lightning in a game that was originally cancelled because of a huge snowstorm a few months back.

Even though the Lightning are eliminated from playoff contention, they have some talented players on their roster. Enough about the opponent for now. Lets discuss the home team.

The Bruins took a lot of heat from head coach Claude Julien after their most recent loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. He claimed that there should be no excuses for this team regarding the reasons why his team has been struggling lately. One could speculate if the B's are doing this intentionally to manage their seeding and get a better first-round matchup. At this point, that should not matter. Just win the games and establish yourself as a team who should contend for the Stanley Cup.

Tuukka Rask was back in net for the Bruins. He opposed Anders Lindback of the Bolts. Nathan Horton missed his third-straight game due to a wrist injury. Also, Johnny Boychuk made his return to the lineup.

Prior to the game, it was announced that Dougie Hamilton was the recipient of the NESN Seventh Player Award for performing above expectations this season. Ironically, he was a healthy scratch for this game.

The first period seemed to drag by with little action at the beginning. As the period progressed, things definitely picked up with physical and chippy play. Andrew Ference had a fight with former Bruins forward Benoit Pouliot, much to the delight of the home crowd. Even though neither team recorded a goal in the first 20 minutes, things looked to be on the Bruins side since they benefited from the physical play and looking solid on the penalty kill.

In the second period, the Bruins capitalized on their momentum. Dennis Seidenberg put Boston on the board first when he blasted a shot from the top of the point to record his third goal of the year. Later in the period, Daniel Paille increased that lead when he cashed in on a goal that was assisted by his "Merlot Line" teammates in Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. This was the best line on the ice for this game, no doubt about it. They continue to be consistent and they are rolling on all cylinders.

There was also a Milan Lucic sighting when he dropped the gloves with Keith Aulie after he felt he was roughed up by the young defenseman. This period of hockey was one that the Bruins should have been content with. 

As good as the B's played through the first two periods, there was no way that they were going to blow another third-period lead. Tampa Bay did have much of the possession, denying any good clean breaks up ice by the Bruins. However, the defense and solid goaltending of the Bruins came through in this game as they held on to defeat the Lightning by a score of 2-0.

The Bruins will hit the road for their Saturday night game against the Washington Capitals.

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask...He posted his fifth shutout of the season by stopping all 30 shots he faced. Clutch. Now lets see if he can do it in the playoffs. 

Black Star: Brad Marchand...Even though he recorded an assist, he had a team-high five giveaways and he played very reckless. This was a rare instance where he slowed his linemates down. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Game 45: Line Shuffle/Goalie Shuffle Did Not Matter For Bruins

The Boston Bruins are entering the final week of the regular season, just like every other team around the NHL. With only four games left on their schedule, it will really come down to the last weekend of the season for the Black and Gold.

Over the next seven days, they will be doing a lot of scoreboard watching in order to see what is going on with the Montreal Canadiens. The B's have one extra game in hand, so they control their own destiny and the path to the Northeast Division title is right in front of them.

They continued their chase for the second spot in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday night when they wrapped up their season series with the Philadelphia Flyers. Both teams have each won a game against each other this season and this was the rubber match.

It is always nice to see the Bruins and Flyers face off because these two teams are very similar. It is like skating against a mirror image from front to back, with the exception of the goaltenders (Boston having the clear advantage in that category). What is disappointing is that the Flyers will not make the playoffs, so everyone should have enjoyed this final match-up. 

Anton Khudobin was back in net for the B's. As it turned out, Nathan Horton did not travel with the team. He stayed in Boston to heal a lingering wrist injury. Adam McQuaid made his return to the lineup in this game as well while Johnny Boychuk took a rest for this one.

In the first period, the Bruins fell into an early hole. Scott Hartnell capitalized on a defensive brain cramp from the B's and blasted the puck past Khudobin. On the flip side, Khudobin actually made some key stops in the opening 20 minutes to keep the game close. The Bruins later tied the game on a goal from Wade Redden, his first as a member of the Black and Gold. Other than those two tallies, it was a hard-nosed physical period as usual between these teams. 

The second period started out slow, but gradually picked up in intensity. Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with fellow tough guy Jay Rosehill. The fight seemed to spark the Flyers because they recorded two goals in seven seconds. Matt Read and Oliver Lauridsen had the tallies. Even though Lauridsen got credit for the goal, Zdeno Chara deserved the blame as he passed the puck towards the net and it slid underneath Khudobin. 

Tuukka Rask briefly replaced the shaky netminder. The Bruins finished the second period with back-to-back power plays, but could not capitalize on either one. 

The story of this game was the sloppy play by the Bruins and that continued into the third period. The number of giveaways that the Bruins had soon became uncountable if you were watching the game live. It became so bad that Rask was pulled in favor of Khudobin after a fifth goal was allowed. There really is not much else a coach can do besides the verbal abuse the players must have received after this game.

After a completely forgettable game, the Bruins fell to the Flyers by a final score of 5-2. David Krejci was able to beat Flyers goaltender Steve Mason with some sweet stick work and he sent the puck to the top of the net. That was the lone bright spot in the second half of the game.

The Bruins will play their next game on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Gold Star: Wade Redden...He did have a goal, but he was one of the only defensemen who did not play terrible and this was coming from a player who will not be a regular when the playoffs come around.

Black Star: Anton Khudobin...Although there were several players who did not play well, getting pulled in the middle of a game is the perfect way to negatively stand out. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Game 44: It Is About Time

The Boston Bruins were in action on Sunday afternoon as they took on the Florida Panthers. This was also their final afternoon game of the regular season. 

Having lost their last four games, the B's were looking for just the right game to get back into the swing of things. The Panthers are literally at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Although they have been decimated by injuries to some of their key players, that is still no excuse for a team who was coming off of a playoff appearance last season. 

The odds were in favor of the Bruins heading into Sunday's game. They held a record of 9-2-1 against teams in the Southeast Division this season. We can put odds aside for this team as of late, but this was the perfect opportunity for the Bruins to get a much-needed win.

Tuukka Rask was right back in net for Boston. Nathan Horton and Adam McQuaid were not in the lineup for this game due to injuries while Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton made their returns. Also, Wade Redden got another game under his belt in place of Matt Bartkowski.

In a game that did not feature a great deal of action, the Bruins blanked the Panthers 3-0 to snap their four-game losing streak. They had goals from Jaromir Jagr, Hamilton, and Brad Marchand. This was a game where everyone was involved and everyone contributed. 

It was good to see this team get back on track in front of their home crowd. With the final week of the NHL regular season approaching, the Bruins will be fighting for that second spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins will be back in action on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask...He posted yet another shutout by stopping all 28 shots he faced. Has he worked his way into the Vezina discussion?

Black Star: David Krejci...He was slightly invisible on the ice for this game, not generating much on the offensive end. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Game 43: At Least There Was No Third Period Lead To Blow This Time

After what was an emotional week for the city of Boston, it is time to leave all of that behind and move on. The best way to do that is focus on what is happening with the Boston Bruins.

The B's have dropped three games in a row, but they have clinched their birth in the playoffs. It is a good thing that the Montreal Canadiens are in a bit of a slump themselves. That has allowed the Bruins to contend for the top spot in the division.

Boston took on the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden. This game was originally supposed to be held on Friday night, but another postponement led to a matinee matchup with the best team in the Eastern Conference. 

Would the fans in attendance be kind or cruel to Jarome Iginla? With Sidney Crosby out of the lineup, Bruins fans needed someone to target. Aside from that, the Bruins were looking to get their first win of the season against the Pens. 

B's head coach Claude Julien continued to give some of his players much needed rest. In this case, Milan Lucic sat this one out for both rest and to wake him up. This opened up the door for Carl Soderberg to make his Bruins debut. Tuukka Rask was back between the pipes in this game as well. Matt Bartkowski was in the lineup again in place of Dougie Hamilton.

In a game that featured some chippy play (notably and typically from Matt Cooke) and numerous whistles, the Penguins knocked off the Bruins by a score of 3-2 to sweep the season series. Jussi Jokinen, Iginla, and Kris Letang had the goals for Pittsburgh, two of which were power play goals. 

The Bruins had goals from Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. They recorded 40 shots on Pens goaltender Tomas Vokoun, but they could not put the puck in the net anymore than they did. When you add that along with getting whistled for some costly penalties, those are the ingredients for a tough loss.

Iginla actually dropped the gloves with Nathan Horton in this game. Horton appeared to have injured his hand during the scrap and he did not return. His condition is not yet known for the next game, but it should not be a surprise if he is held out of the lineup regardless of how serious the injury turns out to be.

Up next on the Bruins schedule will be the Florida Panthers. That game will be played on Sunday afternoon. 

Gold Star: Brad Marchand...It is hard to argue with a power play goal and getting under the skin of the opponent. That is exactly what he did in this one.

Black Star: Carl Soderberg...He surely will improve, but it is always a tough adjustment when you play in your first NHL game. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Game 42: Bruins Use This Night In The Spotlight To Blow Another Third Period Lead

With all of the hoopla that took place prior to the NHL season, it is hard to imagine that we have only two weeks left in the regular season. 

The Boston Bruins have seven games remaining in their 2013 campaign and the table is set for them to catch momentum to carry into the playoffs. Speaking of which, the Bruins just needed one point to clinch a playoff spot.

They were in action on Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres. This was the first game in what was supposed to be a four-game homestand for Boston at the TD Garden. However, the game on Monday was cancelled due to the events that took place at the Boston Marathon. That game will be played on Sunday, April 28th. 

This was also the final meeting between these two teams this season. This particular rivalry was an interesting one to say the least. Although the offseason moves made by the Sabres did not help them in the Eastern Conference overall, it sure helped them against the Bruins. The season series was tied at 2-2 coming into this game, so the B's have been evenly matched both physically and on the scoreboard against this Buffalo team.

Prior to the game, it was announced that Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were going to be back in the lineup after both missed time due to concussions. Dougie Hamilton also made his return after being a healthy scratch the last two games. Wade Redden made his Bruins debut in this game in place of Adam McQquaid. Lastly, Jordan Caron was sent back down to Providence in anticipation of players returning from injuries. The Bruins lineup was back to full strength. 

After an emotional rendition of the National anthem by Rene Rancourt and the Boston faithful to get the Garden rocking, the game was on.

In the first period, the Bruins came out strong offensively, but they were a little shaky defensively. Bruins netminder Anton Khudobin probably made a few more saves than he would have liked to in the first 20 minutes. Daniel Paille put the B's on the board first when he slid the puck underneath Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. Despite their carelessness with the puck (five giveaways), the Sabres managed to tie the game on the power play. Thomas Vanek was the goal scorer for Buffalo. 

Boston amped up the physical play in the second period. The increase in hits led to scoring chances for the Bruins, which is Black and Gold hockey 101 right there. Chris Kelly scored the only goal of the period to put the Bruins back on top. This was his 100th career goal. Kelly and Paille also recorded an assist on each others goal as well. This was a productive night for the third line, which also comprised of Nathan Horton. 

The Bruins dominated the face-off dot all night, but during a key penalty kill in the third period, they failed to win the face-off and that led to the game-tying goal scored by Cody Hodgson on the power play. The Sabres fought back to send the game into overtime. 

After a scoreless and entertaining extra period of hockey, Drew Stafford beat Khudobin in the third round of the shootout to stun the fans on hand. Buffalo defeated Boston by a final score of 3-2.

With Montreal losing earlier in the night, Boston is now in a tie with the Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division. We will see the Bruins in the playoffs yet again.

The Bruins will be back in action on Friday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Gold Star: Chris Kelly (1 goal, 1 assist, plus-2 rating, 67% face-offs won)...His offensive production and his solid play on the penalty kill was worthy of being considered one of the best players on the ice.

Black Star: Milan Lucic...Apparently being moved down to the fourth line did not get the message for this guy. He made use of the ice time that he had, but nothing more than that.

*Carl Soderberg joined the Bruins on Wednesday morning and participated in the morning skate. He did not skate in this game, but he should see some ice time in the coming days.  

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Game 41: Bruins Fail To Clinch Playoff Spot

The Boston Bruins closed out their busy week on Saturday night when they took on the Carolina Hurricanes.
This was the final meeting of the regular season between these two teams.

During the first two meetings, the B's came through with victories and outscored their inferior opponent 11-5.  With the odds stacked in favor of the Bruins, they were poised to come through with another two points. 

This was a road game for Boston, which meant that the Black and Gold only have two road games remaining on the schedule. Honestly, that is not a bad way to close out the season.

Patrice Bergeron resumed skating and practicing with the team late this week. He traveled with the team to Carolina, but did not play. He is getting close to returning to the lineup. As for the game, Tuukka Rask was back in net and Dougie Hamilton remained out of the lineup. 

In the first period, the Bruins continued to have trouble moving the puck out of their own zone. With that being said, Boston played a decent period despite falling behind in scoring opportunities (6-2) and shots on net (17-4). It was the B's who got on the board first when Matt Bartkowski blasted a shot from the top of the point, which was tipped by Milan Lucic to beat Canes goaltender Justin Peters. If it was not for Lucic putting on the pressure and fighting for space in front of the net, the puck would not have gone in. This was only Lucic's second goal in 26 games. Jeff Skinner later tied the game on the power play.

The opening 20 minutes was also a physical and entertaining spectacle. Three fights took place that involved Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara, and Gregory Campbell. These bouts lifted the spirits of both teams as the game progressed.

The second period was much better for the Bruins. The power play, although it went scoreless, was very encouraging to see if you are a Bruins fan. They were moving the puck and getting shots on net. Jaromir Jagr had a point-blank chance, but Peters made the save of the game to rob him of a goal. The Canes increased their lead when Jiri Tlusty blasted the puck past Rask. Unfortunately, that was their only real scoring chance of the period. The Bruins tied the game right back up when Tyler Seguin recorded his 15th goal of the season on a breakaway. 

In the third period, the Hurricanes continued to put the pressure on the Bruins defenseman. The aggressive forechecking forced the B's to take a penalty, which led to the game-winning, power play goal scored by former Bruin Joe Corvo. Tlusty added an empty-net goal to seal the 4-2 victory. The Bruins once again could not capitalize on late-game opportunites.

The Bruins will return to action on Monday night in which they will begin a four-game homestand. Their first opponent will be the Ottawa Senators. 

Gold Star: Jordan Caron...With the lack of production from some of the other forwards, he has cashed in and put together a couple of good games in a row.

Black Star: Johnny Boychuk...He was on the ice for the first two Carolina goals and looked really bad on both of them. He did not put in a good effort in this game.

*Carl Soderberg will officially be with the Bruins next week. He received clearance from the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation over the weekend. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Game 40: Tough Loss To Potential Playoff Opponent

Who would have thought at this time of year that the New York Islanders would be in position to make the playoffs? Something special is happening along the island.

The reason that previous statement is the lead sentence is because the Boston Bruins were in action on Thursday night against a New York team that is destined for playoff glory. This 48-game season has become beneficial to certain teams and that is why the Isles are currently in the playoff structure. 

This was the back end of the B's last back-to-back series of the season. This game was also the last time these two teams faced each other in the regular season with Boston recording wins in the first two meetings. 

Earlier in the week, the team announced that they had reached a three-year agreement to bring over Carl Soderberg from the Swedish Elite League. The 27-year-old center was drafted in 2004 and was traded to the Bruins from the St. Louis Blues in 2007. 

Well, as of Thursday afternoon, the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation blocked the deal and he will not be heading to Boston. They wanted to protect his rights for the international tournaments. Another one gets past Peter Chiarelli. 

Anyway, lets get back to Thursday's game. Tuukka Rask was back in net for the Bruins and he was looking to build on his solid performance from this past Monday. Adam McQuaid made his return to the lineup after missing significant time with a shoulder strain. Dougie Hamilton was the healthy scratch.

It was announced prior to the game that Brad Marchand suffered a mild concussion after taking an elbow to the head from Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov. He was suspended by the NHL for four games. Obviously, Marchand did not skate in this game and was replaced by Kaspars Daugavins. 

In a game where the Bruins had a chance to expand on their lead in the Northeast Division, they could not get the job done. The Islanders received solid goaltending from Evgeni Nabokov and a pair of goals from Josh Bailey. 

Tyler Seguin was able to get the lone goal on the power play for the B's in their 2-1 loss to the Isles. Rask was solid in net, making 34 saves. However, he just had no help in front of him.

The Bruins will travel to Carolina on Saturday to take on the Hurricanes. 

Gold Star: Matt Bartkowski...He has been a surprise for the Bruins this season, especially in this game. The Jarome Iginla trade that fell through must have sparked a new edge for him to use out on the ice. 

Black Star(s): Milan Lucic/Nathan Horton...It is time that these players (top-line wingers) are held accountable for their awful play out on the ice. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Game 39: Back In First Place

This has been a busy season for the Boston Bruins. They have felt the blunt of this condensed schedule more towards the end of the season, which leaves fans to wonder if that will haunt them in the playoffs.

Either way, the team knows that they just have to play the schedule in front of them. They were back in action on Wednesday night when they played the New Jersey Devils. This game was the front half of their final back-to-back series of the season. From this point on, they have a lighter finish to the season. 

We all have heard this before, but a victory in this contest would launch the Bruins into first place in the Northeast Division and second place in the Eastern Conference. 

This game was on the NBC Sports Network as part of the "Wednesday Night Rivalry" series of games this season. There is just something about the Devils that is boring and makes you want to yawn. Since this was the final meeting between these two teams this season, fans could deal with this match-up one more time. Would this be the night that these two teams gave us something worth talking about?

Anton Khudobin was back between the pipes in this game as he opposed Martin Brodeur. Adam McQuaid, who has missed significant time due to a shoulder strain, is getting close to making his return to the lineup. Also, it was reported that Patrice Bergeron has resumed working out. There is no word yet on when he will return to the lineup. 

That is enough of updates for now. Lets talk about the game itself.

In the first 20 minutes, it was literally a tale of two periods for the Bruins. They spent a majority of the period on the penalty kill as they got whistled for four separate minor penalties. However, they were able to turn some defense into offense when they scored two shorthanded goals. Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell recorded the tallies for Boston. Those were two bursts of energy that the Bruins needed, but it all started when Campbell beat Brodeur just 70 seconds after puck drop.

This was the second-straight game that the Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 start. This was huge for the B's, but things kind of settled down in the second period. What did not settle down was the lack of leniency with the officials. They called the game very tight, but at least they were consistent throughout the game. The Bruins continued their scoring onslaught from all aspects when Zdeno Chara got credit for a power play goal just three minutes into the second period. 

After the Devils finally got on the board on a goal by Patrik Elias, the Bruins went on the power play for five minutes after Anton Volchenkov elbowed Brad Marchand in the head. Marchand was in and out of the locker room all night long with various ailments, but this one put him there for good. Volchenkov received a game misconduct, which will lead to a hearing from the NHL offices and that will be followed by a suspension. 

The Bruins failed to score a goal with the five minute man advantage, but the Devils pulled within two after a shorthanded goal by Travis Zajac. They used that momentum and carried it over into the third period. Andy Greene gave the Devils a fighting chance when he pulled his team within one, but Tyler Seguin silenced the crowd when he beat Brodeur to give the B's another two-goal lead. 

From that point on, Boston took control of this game. Matt D'Agostini grabbed a goal late in the game, but it was too late and time became their enemy. The Bruins knocked off the Devils by a score of 5-4. 

The Bruins will head back home on Thursday night to take on the New York Islanders.

Gold Star: Daniel Paille (1 goal, 1 assist, plus-2 rating)...He produced on the scoreboard, but what really shined was his work on the penalty kill. In this particular game, killing penalties was key.

Black Star: Johnny Boychuk...He had a couple of penalties early on in the game and he had obvious trouble in the defensive zone. He had issues standing on his skates, which is never a sign of things going your way. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Game 38: It Must Be The Sweaters

When you play teams that are fighting for something other than a playoff spot, sometimes the complacent attitude could be a bad thing and it could cost you.

The Boston Bruins were in a similar situation on Monday night when they took on the Carolina Hurricanes. This was only the second time these two teams have met this season, but this was the first of two meetings between these squads this week. 

The Bruins, who were swept by the Canes last season, looked good against their Southeast Division rival in the first game earlier in the year. The Hurricanes are currently in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, so this game was about self-respect in their eyes. With a depleted roster and a terrible outing during their recent homestand, that is all they have to play for.

Prior to the game, B's head coach Claude Julien announced that he re-shuffled the lines once again. This time, it was Tyler Seguin being demoted to the third line and Gregory Campbell getting the promotion to the second line.

Tuukka Rask was back in net for the Bruins as he opposed Justin Peters of the Hurricanes. Chris Kelly made his return to the lineup in this game after missing 14 games with a fractured tibia. The pieces are slowly coming back together. Jordan Caron (healthy scratch) made his return to the lineup as well. He skated on the fourth line with Rich Peverley and Shawn Thornton.

In the first period, the Hurricanes were super aggressive. The defensemen acted like forwards and it seemed like the Bruins were on the penalty kill the entire time because it looked like they were constantly down a man. Rask was the man of the period as he came up with some great saves to shut down the Canes in the opening 20 minutes. 

As for the B's, they jumped out to a 3-0 lead on two goals by Brad Marchand and one by Peverley. Once Boston popped in its second goal, Carolina made the goalie change. Out went Peters, in came Dan Ellis. In the grand scheme of things, it was not much of an upgrade.

The second period started with the Black and Gold really turning their game around. All of a sudden, it was the Hurricanes who were on the defensive. The biggest difference was that the d-men for the Bruins started to be more physical along the boards. With Rask standing tall behind them, players like Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference were able to contribute offensively. 

After the Bruins added two more goals (scored by Ference and Caron respectively), they entered the final 20 minutes with confidence. That quickly disappeared as they seemed to lose their edge. On the other hand, the Hurricanes did not go away quietly. After being denied a goal by video review, they answered right back seconds later with goals by Patrick Dwyer and Drayson Bowman. The Bruins managed to add one more goal on the stick of Nathan Horton, which resulted from a tape-to-tape pass from Dougie Hamilton. 

In what turned out to be a soild outing for the Bruins, they defeated the Hurricanes by a final score of 6-2.

Seidenberg posted three assists and a plus-four rating in the win while Jaromir Jagr finished with a pair of assists. This was a performance that the players could be happy with. Lets see if they can build on this in the upcoming week.

The Bruins will be on the road Wednesday night when they take on the New Jersey Devils.

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask (40 saves on 42 shots, 2 goals allowed, .952 save percentage)...He gave us a little bit of a scare in the third period, but he held strong when it counted and came through with a clutch performance.

Black Star: Tyler Seguin...For a guy who leads his team in total shots, he managed to get only one shot on goal. He is looking forward to Patrice Bergeron returning as soon as possible. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Game 37: Marc Savard, Please Come Back To Save This Power Play

There are a dozen games left on the Boston Bruins schedule in 2013. Of course, that means that points will be at a premium the rest of the way. The "bigger picture" way of looking at things is that individual season series between teams are coming to a close as well.

This was the case on Saturday night for the B's as they traveled to Montreal to take on the Canadiens. This was indeed the final meeting of the regular season between these two divisional rivals.

At this point, the scene does not need to be set for this game. The biggest rivalry in sports gets enough attention as it is. However, this was the first time that these two teams played each other on a NESN broadcast this season. Jack Edwards has not gone a week without mentioning this at least once, so this was something to look forward to.

With both teams coming off victories on Thursday night, this game would be for first place in the Northeast Division. It was also a chance for Boston to pull even with wins in the season series with Montreal. 

Tuukka Rask was back between the pipes for the Bruins and he opposed Carey Price. Chris Kelly (broken leg) made the trip to Montreal with the team. Although he did not skate in this game, he is days away from returning. There were no additional lineup changes, but the lines were constantly shuffled throughout this game. One last side note:  David Krejci dawned the second "A" in Patrice Bergeron's absence, which started in the last game against New Jersey.

In the first period, the puck was constantly down in the defensive zone of the Bruins. The speed of Montreal caught up to the B's early on in this game. They made it difficult for the Bruins to clear their own zone, let alone get any decent scoring chances. The Canadiens got on the board first on a goal by Alex Galchenyuk. It was such a sloppy goal, even by Montreal standards.

There was an interesting moment in the first period when Habs defenseman Alexei Emelin delivered a huge hit on Milan Lucic. He ended up injuring his own knee and had to leave the game. Montreal had to finish the game with only five d-men. Sometimes, karma is the best thing anyone can ask for. 

Anyway, the second period began with a Montreal power play goal. This resulted from Lucic taking a questionable cross-checking call at the end of the first period. Michael Ryder was the goal scorer for the Habs. However, for the majority of the period Boston took over. They became the more physical team, which caused Price to see the puck much more than he wanted to. Daniel Paille pulled the B's within one after deflecting a shot by Johnny Boychuk past the Habs netminder. Montreal started to put more pressure on Rask as the period winded down. Luckily, it remained a one-goal game going into the final 20 minutes. 

The third period was sloppy for both teams. There were a couple of instances where the defensemen could not clear the puck up ice. Although that makes for very entertaining flurries on goal and potential heart palpitations for the respective coaches, that is sloppy hockey play in a nutshell. In the end, Montreal held on to win this game by a score of 2-1 after the Bruins failed on a late power play opportunity. Boston pulled Rask and skated six-on-four, but could not record a single shot. It was sad to watch.  

Montreal takes over sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division and second place in the Eastern Conference. 

The Bruins will return home for Monday night's game against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Gold Star: David Krejci...His physical play set the tone just seconds into the game.

Black Star: Dougie Hamilton...It looked as if he was nervous on the ice in this game. He could not settle the puck and he turned it over constantly. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Game 36: What Goaltender Controversy?

There was definitely a new look and a new feel to the Boston Bruins just one day removed from the NHL trade deadline. With the new pieces in place and the roster set for the rest of the season (once the injured players return), the time has come for Boston to go on a run through the Eastern Conference. 

The Bruins were back in action on Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils. Hopefully, the Black and Gold continued their momentum against a team fighting for their playoff lives.

We knew that Jaromir Jagr and Kaspars Daugavins joined the Bruins earlier this week, but on Wednesday the Bruins only made a depth move at the deadline. They traded a seventh-round pick in 2014 to the St. Louis Blues for veteran defenseman Wade Redden, a 35-year-old blue liner who will provide leadership and grit in the defensive zone. This could be considered a letdown for Bruins fans, but having depth on the team is always a good thing. 

After being involved in the Tuesday pregame skate, Daugavins made his Bruins debut on Thursday night along with Jagr, the 2013 version of Mark Recchi for this team. Tyler Seguin slid over to his natural center position and he was flanked by Jagr and Brad Marchand. As for Daugavins, he skated on the third line with Rich Peverley and Jay Pandolfo.

Tuukka Rask was back in goal for the Bruins as he opposed Martin Brodeur of the Devils. Patrice Bergeron did not skate in this game due to the fact that he had been diagnosed with a moderate concussion. His return remains unknown, but this time next week should be the target for his return. 

After a scoreless first period, the Bruins opened up the scoring in the second period with an early goal. Guess who? Yup, Jagr recorded his first goal as a Bruin after taking a puck off his skate and it slid right underneath Brodeur. It sounds worse than what it actually was though. He fought hard for the ice in front of the net and he ended up being in the perfect position.

The Devils piled up the better scoring chances, including ringing two posts. They outshot the Bruins 28-19 through the first two periods, but Rask came up with some timely saves to keep the momentum on Boston's side. 

In the third period, the Bruins became sloppy with the puck. All of their turnovers led to scoring chances and puck possession by the Devils. In the end, Rask stood on his head and the defense held strong to preserve the 1-0 home victory.

The one aspect from this game that the Bruins struggled with was the face-offs. New Jersey won the battle at the face-off dot (28-23), but that can be attributed to the absence of Bergeron.

The Bruins will be on the road Saturday night when they take on the Montreal Canadiens.

Gold Star: Tuukka Rask...He finished with 40 saves and posted his third shutout of the season. What goaltender controversy?

Black Star: Tyler Seguin...He was not terrible at the center position in this game, but finishing only 25% from the dot is an issue that needs to be fixed. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Game 35: Shot After Shot (After Shot, After Shot, After Shot)

There is a reason why the Boston Bruins are looking to build on their momentum in the month of April. They have one of the more favorable schedules in the NHL in the final month of the regular season.

The B's will play 14 games in the month of April, starting on Tuesday night when they hosted the Ottawa Senators. Out of those 14 games, only five of them will be on the road. The rest will be played at home, including a four-game homestand later on in the month. 

With the NHL trade deadline coming Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. and several teams looking to be active, the B's are desperate to get a deal done. Hopefully, they will be looking to bring in one or two pieces to help them break out of their slump and put them over the edge. We will see what happens. 

Prior to the game, it was announced that the team traded for veteran forward Jaromir Jagr. He will provide the depth on the third line and will improve the power play. He already leapfrogged into a tie for fourth place on the team in scoring, which goes to show you just how much the Bruins have been struggling lately. 

As for the game on Tuesday, Anton Khudobin was back in goal for the Black and Gold. This was an interesting move playing him in two consecutive games, but it turned out to be a solid coaching decision.

In the first period, the Senators jumped out to an early lead on a goal by Colin Greening. The Bruins responded quickly by taking the lead on goals by David Krejci and Tyler Seguin. Aside from the early tallies, the action was quiet in the opening 20 minutes.

The game started to pick up in the second and third periods. Ottawa squeaked back into it with a quick snipe of a goal by Andre Benoit. In the end, it was Nathan Horton that sealed the game winner after some solid puck movement up ice from the Bruins. Boston ended up winning this one by a final score of 3-2. Both teams combined for almost 100 total shots on goal with Khudobin recording 45 saves.

A scary moment occurred in the second period when Patrice Bergeron took an incidental arm to the face and he had to leave the game. His status is unknown at the moment. It is worth noting that he has had three previously diagnosed concussions during his career.

The "new-look" Bruins will play their next game on Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils. 

Gold Star: David Krejci (1 goal, 1 assist)...He provided the points and he played a physical game. Maybe his wingers could learn something from him?

Black Star: Zdeno Chara...This was an awkward game for the Bruins captain. He got in his shots on goal, but he was very lazy defensively in this one.