Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Game 52: Rask vs. Thomas - Plain and Simple

Has it dawned on anybody that the Boston Bruins only play five games during the month of February? 

Although Olympic hockey is one of the great spectacles in sports, the two-week hiatus that the NHL will go on during that month will be a little hard to handle. Let's enjoy the remaining games that they have to play in January before we reach that point.

The B's returned to the TD Garden on Tuesday night to begin a four-game homestand. Up first on the slate were the Florida Panthers. 

Boston has handled the Panthers this season with ease, but sometimes a team with nothing to play for could be the most dangerous. The Panthers were up for the challenge.

After missing over six weeks of action, Chris Kelly made his return to the lineup after healing up a broken leg. Although Ryan Spooner played well in his place, this was Kelly's spot. Tuukka Rask got the start in goal and opposed Tim Thomas, the first time these two have faced each other since Thomas left Boston.

The first period was physical beyond belief. Despite their lackluster record, the Panthers will always refuse to be a pushover. The Bruins still jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara (who was honored during the first period for recording his 500th career NHL point in the previous game). Boston out-shot Florida 19-8 through the first 20 minutes. 

In the second period, the Panthers tried to get their game going by putting tons of pressure on Rask. Aside from that early rush and a late goal by ex-Bruin Brad Boyes (FLA), he did not see much more action. The B's added two more goals in the period to go up by three. 

The third period started with the Panthers notching a power play goal to cut the lead in half. That turned out to be the last breath of hope for the Panthers because the Bruins beat Thomas for another two goals in the third, one of them by Shawn Thornton. The Bruins won this game by a score of 6-2, the third-straight game that this team has scored six goals. 

Up next for the Bruins: The Montreal Canadiens. That game will take place on Thursday night.

Gold Star: Milan Lucic...This guy was a force in this one. He used his size to create several scoring chances, including two for himself. He loves to hit and his hitting paid dividends here. 

Black Star: Chris Kelly...It will take some time for him to get back to form. Patience will be his friend in this case. 

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