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.