Friday, March 13, 2009
The Bruins exploded to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of this one, then in the remaining 50, it was a 3-2 Senators game. 2-2 until Kessel's empty-netter sealed the win.
Finally, the Bruins got a bit of good fortune when Aaron Ward came out of the penalty box at precisely the right moment, scoring on a breakaway thanks to Zdeno Chara's stop in front of an open net, and a perfect pass from Patrice Bergeron. PJ Axelsson also scored after being released from the box.
The Senators have three threats on offense. That's pretty much it. Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, and Daniel Alfredsson. As an opponent, if you shut down these three, Ottawa's offense is essentially contained. The Bruins didn't do this. 2 minutes after going up 3-0, Blake Wheeler got lazy in front of his own net, giving Spezza enough space to make it 3-1, keeping Ottawa in the game.
The 2nd period saw no scoring, but plenty of Bruins' possessions that ended in the neutral zone thanks to poor puck protection. Savard had some breakaways, but couldn't finish. It's kind of sad that Aaron Ward has a better finish than Marc Savard lately. More laziness in the defensive zone followed. If the Senators were a better team, they would have came out of the 2nd with a lead. The B's were fortunate to be up 3-1 after 2.
Early in the 3rd, Kessel showed the finishing touches he demonstrated in October and November, and he was sprung by a vintage Savard pass. The 4-1 lead seemed concrete... for 2 minutes, when Schubert took advantage of lackluster defensive play, then Spezza scored thanks to a failed assignment. The Bruins had to sweat out a 1 goal lead, with Kessel hitting an empty net.
The Bruins showed both of their natures last night. They showed their explosiveness, their toughness (Kessel and Ference were particularly hard-nosed), their defensive excellence. Then they showed their laziness, their lack of coordination, slow and confused line changes. They haven't played a full 60 for a few weeks now.
Although there were some bright spots. Kessel looked sharp in all three zones, and was especially fierce on the defensive end. Andrew Ference had a great game, despite the -3 on his stat sheet. PJ Axelsson finally had a good game offensively. It's been awhile. Montador was very good with the puck all night, making some nice moves in his own zone to kickstart the neutral zone offense. Krejci had some more misses and mistimed passes, but played a good physical game.
Here's the heavyweight fight between Milan Lucic and Chris Niel:
The Bruins host the worst team in the NHL Saturday as the Islanders come to town.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson