Sunday, March 15, 2015

Games 68-69: Another Back-To-Back

Is everyone back on the bandwagon yet? With a record of 6-0-1 in seven games, a number of players with point streaks, and not having lost in regulation this month, our team is looking reminiscent of previous teams that we are proud to call our own. 

We were not joking around when we said that the Boston Bruins would have a busy month of March. 

Including this weekend, the B's will play four weekend back-to-back sets, which literally equates to every weekend being jam packed with hockey. As a fan, that is great stuff. Seeing the Bruins involved in playoff-like games this late in the year will fully prepare for what is in store for them once the postseason starts. 

The hectic part about this particular one was that both games were played on the road.

The action began on Saturday afternoon when Boston concluded its season series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The teams split the first two meetings of the season. 

Prior to the weekend, the Bruins recalled defenseman Zach Trotman from Providence on an emergency basis and traveled with the team. He did not end up playing, though.

Sidney Crosby (injured in warm-ups) was scratched for the Penguins. That was definitely a strange start to the afternoon. The Penguins looked out of sorts early on because of the B's strong pressure along the boards. A tight penalty kill immediately led to a quick goal by Milan Lucic. With Tuukka Rask Rask making 12 stops in the first period, not a bad start for Boston. Physical, strong pushes, and smart with the puck. 

In the second period, the pace quickened. Remember that the Penguins are one of the worst teams in the league when allowing the first goal. Boston has done that now for 11 straight games. Pittsburgh kept that in mind as they jumped out to a fast start. However, Evgeni Malkin (hit by Chris Kelly in his opening shift) missed the rest of the game with a lower-body injury. How about that for a lucky break for the REAL Black and Gold? 

Blake Comeau and Christian Ehroff were thorns in the side of the B's, racking up about half of the scoring chances for Pittsburgh. Since the Pens had to commit players forward, the Bruins got some decent looks themselves. In the end, Rask was a wall in net as he recorded his third shutout of the season. Zdeno Chara added a late empty netter to grab the 2-0 victory for Boston. 

On Sunday night, the Bruins took on the Washington Capitals. Don't look now, but the B's were now tied with the Caps in points for seventh place in the Eastern Conference heading into Sunday. The teams ahead of Boston are now more important than the teams in the rear view mirror. 

As for this one, the Bruins were swarmed by the Capitals early on. Tom Wilson (not Alex Ovechkin) was the one making the physical impact on the game for Washington. Because of that, the B's streak of scoring first in 11 straight games was snapped as John Carlson netted a power play goal to give the Capitals the lead. In the meantime, the tempers and hits continued to escalate.

For some reason, the B's did not seem to be in tune with each other on this night. Boston failed to convert a power play goal in back-to-back games, going 0-for-8 with the man advantage. As this game went on, scoring chances were negated by great goaltending at each end of the ice. Since Washington was able to get out to an early lead, the Bruins could not dig themselves out of that hole. They fell in this game by a score of 2-0 and split the weekend back-to-back set.

The Bruins will return home on Tuesday night when they host the Buffalo Sabres.

Gold Star (combined): Chris Kelly...No, the points were not there. However, he showed hustle and a relentless pace to his game all weekend. He did not show any heavy legs. 

Black Star (combined): Reilly Smith...Turnovers, lackluster effort, no offensive contribution....again. Why is he in the lineup?

Game Sixty-Eight Box Score

Game Sixty-Nine Box Score

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