Friday, December 03, 2010
BRUINS BUILD THE FIRST SNOWMAN OF THE YEAR
I'm going to begin my recap of an 8-1 victory by discussing goaltending and defense. Yes, I really am.
This wasn't one of those "closer than the score" games, the 8-1 fits because the Bruins utterly dominated, and it all started in the defensive zone. Remember, this was a 1-0 game 19 minutes in, and a 3-1 game 37 minutes in.
It's time for me to gushl over Tim Thomas again. He stopped 37 shots tonight. Many of those came early (15 saves in the 1st) before the game was decided. He just sees the puck so well, even in traffic. His puck vision really impresses me. If Whitey Bulger dressed up as a hockey puck, Tim Thomas would find him in 17 minutes.
Now to the defense, who were the real story in this game. Zdeno Chara was on Stamkos like a second jersey. Not only that, his stick-positioning all night was superb, and he cracked a few skulls early on. Seidenberg, Boychuk, and Stuart all had flawless defensive performances. Ference and McQuaid were no slouches either.
The defensive work, along with Thomas, kept it a 0-0 game, then kept it a 1-0 game, then kept it a 2-0 game, then a 3-0 game. A bit of misfortune with a broken-stick turnover allowed it to reach 3-1, then the defense resumed its clamp on Tampa Bay's skill players, and on it went.
When the Bruins got the big lead, the defense didn't yield any easy plays. And that's what allowed the score to inflate up to 8-1.
Marc Savard returned, and although he wasn't on his A-Game, he and Krejci's sudden reappearance must bring some comfort to the team, as players resume their regular duties. Bergeron goes from a #1 center to a #3, and more situational center. Blake Wheeler doesn't have to be a center at all. Seguin can log some time on the wings. Jordan Caron can log some time as a healthy scratch.
Krejci's return has reignited the top line. 3 goals and 6 points from Lucic-Krejci-Horton last night. Both Krejci and Horton were +4. They understand each other so well, it's as if they've been playing together for years, not months.
Speaking of returns, the relatively unheralded return of Johnny Boychuk in mid-November has bolstered the Bruins' defense. He's as physical as Stuart, makes great decisions, is good with the puck, and can really bomb it from the blue-line.
How cool was Seidenberg's goal?
Seven different Bruins scored goals. 12 different Bruins registered points.
Lucic netted his 12th of the season. He's only 5 shy of his career high. Michael Ryder returned to the stat sheet with a nice blocker-side snipe and a pair of assists. Shawn Thornton scored his 5th of the season. His career high is 6. Tim Thomas assisted on the Thornton goal, which gives him 2 on the season, which is a new career high.
And you can say that Thornton's goal was a gift, and it was. And Seidenberg's, although clever, was also a goaltender miscue. Recchi's goal featured some beneficial bounces, and Krejci's second was slightly deflected. Blah blah blah.
The Bruins put themselves in good positions all night. Their defense shut down a prolific Tampa Bay offense, their counter-attack was executed well, and they didn't make many mistakes. Some Lightning errors may have let the score reach 8-1 instead of 3-1 or 4-1, but Tampa Bay NEVER stood a chance in this game after the 1st period. Not even close.
I loved the intensity that the Bruins came out with. Starting the game with the Thornton line was a nice touch.
However, it's difficult to maintain that level of intensity for 82 games. They need to find a middle-ground between last night's sheer ferocity, and some of their lackadaisical efforts in November.
But hey, I'll take it. Bruins play the Leafs in Toronto on Saturday night.