Tuesday, March 03, 2009
BRUINS EASE UP, FLYERS ROLL OVER THEM
The first period of this game got me excited. It was like watching playoff hockey. Really tight checking, solid defense, excellent goaltending, few mistakes. The Bruins ended the first frame up 1-0 after a nifty Patrice Bergeron power play goal. Then they took the rest of the night off. Simultaneously, the Flyers found a higher gear, and embarrassed the Bruins on home ice.
The Bruins can't exactly cruise into the playoffs here, at least not without major risk. New Jersey is only 8 points behind, red hot, and has a game in hand. There's 18 games left, and Jersey is only 3 wins behind the Bruins' pace.
There's another problem. The Bruins haven't fared well against the other top teams in the East: Washington, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. In the 9 games against these opponents, the Bruins are 2-4-3, or have 8 points out of 18 possible. And in their last 4 against these teams, the B's are 0-2-2. That's no good.
We've seen them explode for 5 or 6 goals. Against Washington, they had a phenomenal effort. In the 1st period Tuesday night, they were physical, fast, and fun to watch. Then Marc Savard, of all people, turns the puck over on his defensive blue-line, and finishes the night with 3 giveaways.
So here's the question: Are they fizzling, or are they cruising? A fizzle means they're out of fuel and will eventually crash. But you can accelerate from a cruise.
In their 18 remaining games, they have 2 against those top 4 Eastern teams, and 8 against current playoff teams. Even if they continue to cruise, they can secure the #1 seed in the East.
I'm looking at the schedule and April 9th jumps out at me. The Bruins host the Canadiens. If the Bruins are on cruise control, that game should wake them up. If they've fizzled, it will be blatantly clear that night.
By the way, this was the save of the season...
It may have even wound up to be the biggest play of the night, as it kept the then listing Flyers from falling behind 2-0.
Bruins host the lowly Coyotes Thursday night.
AP Photo/Elise Amendola