Sunday, March 22, 2009
BRUINS EXCORCISE SOME DEVILS
After a heartbreaking overtime loss to the lowly LA Kings, and with the Devils 9-2 in their last 11, this clash between the top two teams in the East was a potential turning point for both teams, particularly the struggling Bruins.
Finally, the Bruins had a little bit of luck on their side. But that luck was assisted by hard work and quality play. Their first goal, for instance, deflected off a New Jersey skate and past Brodeur. However, the B's were on a power play thanks to a sloppy New Jersey line change which came about thanks to a long, hard possession in the Devils' zone.
The Bruins seemed to find a chink in Brodeur's superhuman armor. His ankles. They peppered his ankles with shots, and he let a few in. Kobasew had a wraparound goal to make it 2-0, and Lucic attacked Brodeur's heels to make it 4-1.
The game was playoff caliber in terms of physicality, with the Bruins just slightly coming out on top. Zdeno Chara owned Zach Parise and tossed around all 230 pounds of Bobby Holik on more than one occasion.
This physical play affected the Devils. In the 2nd, they got two frustration penalties. Parise slashed at Chara, and Holik crossed the line with Stephane Yelle.
New Jersey's goal came after an unsuccesful Bruins power play. It was the only stretch that the B's looked a bit lazy, even slothful. But once the Devils made it a 3-1 game, the Bruins shifted it back into high gear. The 3rd period was their best 3rd period I've seen in over a month. They continued to pressure Brodeur, and they made nothing easy for the Devils.
Oh, and Timmy Thomas had a season high 41 saves. He was simply outstanding.
Marc Savard had a goal and an assist. Milan Lucic's goal snapped a 14 game goalless streak. He was also paired with Thornton and Yelle on a grueling 4th line that drained tons of energy from the Devils.
The Bruins have 5 days off. Yeah, they don't play until Saturday when they play the Leafs in Toronto.
With this win, the Bruins clinch the Northeast Division. Their first divisional title since 2004, and their 22nd all-time. Meanwhile, Montreal is on the verge of vanishing from the playoff picture.
Today's victory also gives the Bruins the edge in the season series with New Jersey. That might end up being important as head-to-head results are the 2nd tie-breaker for playoff seeding. At the moment, the Bruins have a 5 point lead over New Jersey, but the Devils have a game in hand.
Bruins @ Maple Leafs, Saturday night at 7.
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer