Monday, March 08, 2010
THE BRUINS' CRUCIBLE
A mixed emotion weekend. A win, a valiant loss, and what looks like a major injury to a significant player.
The B's are two games into a seven game road series. It has the potential to make or break their season. They still have an outside chance to win the Northeast Division. But they can fall as much as they can rise. A mere 3 points cushion them from 9th place.
Tim Thomas had an excellent weekend, thankfully so. Rask was sidelined with a "knee injury." Timmy stopped 37 shots Saturday afternoon, then stopped 31 in Pittsburgh. Although on Sunday, he appeared to tire, and was decidedly less crisp in the 3rd period.
The offensive woes persisted Sunday afternoon. The B's managed a token junky goal as Blake Wheeler yanked the punk from under M.A. Fleury and slid it in the net. But they never got that pivotal 2nd goal.
David Krejci and Miroslav Satan demonstrated some skillful passing, but it was a bit too dandy for my liking. Pretty passes are indeed pretty, but when a give-and-go-and-give-and-go results in zero shots, I'm not impressed. Before he was dispatched, Savard was also guilty of trying to be too clever.
About Savard's injury, or rather the hit that caused it. I wouldn't call it dirty. I would call it reckless. Unnecessary. A player having just shot the puck, in his follow-through, is as vulnerable as a punter on an NFL field. Even though Matt Cooke tucked his elbows in, it was a late hit, a hit to the head, and a hit on a vulnerable player. I felt it warranted a 2 minute minor.
Instead, play continued 5-on-5. Which was odd. The refs had shown some minerals earlier when they called 4 straight penalties on the Penguins. But then they swallowed their whistles, allowed Ruslan Fedotenko to run amuck, and allowed Cooke's reckless hit to go unpunished. Too bad.
But in the end, the Bruins lost to the Penguins because they simply have a better team out there. There's a reason that Evgeni Malkin's squad is #2 in the East, and it's not referees.
The Bruins have a should-win game in Toronto Tuesday night. Then at Philly, at Montreal, and at New Jersey. Three playoff calibre teams, a very tough but potentially lucrative stretch of games.
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic