Monday, February 28, 2011
Maybe the Bruins should request to play their playoff games on the road. They certainly seem to perform best while away from Boston. The Bruins have won all 5 on their road trip, including a 3-1 win over the Canucks, holders of the best home record in the NHL.
How? Well, it starts with goaltending. Tim Thomas excelled in Vancouver and Calgary, and Tuukka Rask more than held his own in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Nassau.
Then comes the timely scoring. Horton's muscular goal to tie the game in Vancouver. Then Lucic's winning score in the 3rd of the Vancouver game. Lucic has learned the art of scoring in the slot. When he scored against the Canucks, it wasn't just good old fashioned aggression. When Seidenberg blasted a shot, Lucic was ready to smack in the rebound.
What's amazed me about Lucic this season is how quickly he becomes ready to score, how he positions himself in scoring position, before the rebound reaches his stick. When Seidenberg was rearing back to take his shot, Lucic was already prepping for the rebound. And that's why he has 27 goals.
In Edmonton, the team's effort wasn't as inspirational. Then again, they'd just taken on a tough opponent, then traveled to another West Canada bastion of hockey. Nevertheless, the Bruins still overcame the lowly Oilers. It was nice to see guys like Horton and Ryder finally paying their dues on the party bus.
This is a team that will take some doing to reckon with.
Bruins at Senators on Tuesday night.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The Flames were hot coming into this game. They hadn't lost at home in regulation since January 3rd. They'd won three straight (scoring 17 in those games), and were 11-1-2 in their last fourteen. But the Bruins matched them. And thanks to some fortunate bounces, and the best goalie in the NHL, the B's continued their winning ways.
New acquisitions Rich Paverley and Chris Kelly were solid. And the Bergeron line once again was the Bruins' best. Marchand's 19th goal of the season came off an exquisitely lucky bounce, but that bounce came after some hard-nosed forechecking by Bergeron, and crafty passing by Recchi. Good things happen to good players.
I liked Seguin skating on a line with Thornton and Campbell. He's not just playing out there, he's fighting. He's fighting to keep the puck, to take it, and ultimately he's fighting for ice time. He probably won a little bit last night.
At times, the Bruins struggled to make plays coming out of their own zone. They just couldn't connect on their passes. I think that among the top teams in the NHL, the Bruins might be the worst at passing the puck.
Thankfully, they have Thomas, who looked much crisper after a few days off. Thomas is a candidate for the Hart Trophy (MVP) because he covers for so many of his teammates' mistakes. He's like a Gold Glove first baseman who saves his infielders from throwing errors. His robbery of Olli Jokinen was beyond human.
Thomas will have a few days off as the Bruins trek further west to Vancouver, home of the #1 team in the NHL: The Canucks. Who boast a 21-4-5 record at home. They're #1 in goals scored, and #1 in goals allowed. Bruins @ Canucks, late night Saturday.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
What were you doing the day after you turned 20? I was probably nursing a hangover and eating Thanksgiving leftovers. The day after Trevor Bayne turned 20, he won the Daytona 500, and pocketed $1.46 million for doing so.
The race was long, with a very boring stretch in the middle. 16 cautions slowed the pace. Most of the race featured 4 to 8 cars out in front, casually swapping the lead, and a pack of 20 cars half a mile behind them jockeying for position. Every now and then, a random wreck would eliminate a few contenders.
In the last 10 laps, things got exciting, as the casual lead swapping turned into something a bit more competitive. Bayne was able to get to the front and stay there, blocking two cars down the stretch.
It was cool to see Bayne's excitement. He didn't know what to do to celebrate, got lost driving to victory lane, and he's not even going to be a full time Sprint Cup driver this year. He'll be in the Nationwide Series (NASCAR's equivalent to AAA), driving for Roush-Fenway.
My favorite moment of the race was watching Juan Pablo Montoya's inhuman control of his car. He nearly spun out twice, but was able to save it by locking the brakes, then flooring the throttle, then locking the brakes, then flooring the throttle, all while violently sawing the steering wheel.
And I probably won't watch a full race until March 20, when NASCAR visits the high-banked short track in Bristol, Tennessee.
Between Nassau, NY and Ottawa, ONT, the Bruins changed quite a bit. They added a center and two defensemen. They lost a defenseman, a winger, and some draft picks. They've completely changed their Power Play unit, and now have an abundance of centers.
The big move was acquiring Tomas Kaberle for the 1st round pick from the Kessel deal. Kaberle is 5th among NHL defensemen with 35 assists, 22 of which have come on the Power Play (2nd among NHL defensemen in that category. Lidstrom has 23). He is the long sought after "puck moving" defenseman. In other words, he's not a screw-up when it comes to making plays with the puck. Not just the impressive, goal-scoring plays with a man advantage, but the simple neutral zone plays that the Bruins frequently struggle with.
Overshadowed by all this was the deal that sent Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart to Atlanta, and brought Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik to Boston. Valabik is a tall (6' 7"), 25 year old Slovakian prospect, and will probably not dress for the big club.
But Peverley will play. He scored 22 goals last year, and he's scored 14 this season. That's 5 more than David Krejci. Peverley will compete with Kelly and Campbell for the 3rd and 4th line center spots. While Kelly brings "solid" play with good defense, and Campbell brings grit, Peverley brings a bit more flare.
The Bruins now have 6 centers for 4 spots. Seguin will probably not play center if he dresses. Krejci and Bergeron are #1 and #2 on the depth chart. Adding both Peverley and Kelly gives the Bruins some options, and some insurance.
The great thing about the Kelly and Paverley deals is that they didn't cost much. Kelly was acquired for a 2nd round pick. And for Paverley, the Bruins gave up a superfluous (word of the day, it means "being more than is necessary") defenseman who'd been scratched a few times (Stuart), and a winger who was doing nothing but occupying a roster spot (Wheeler). So for a modest price, the Bruins now have some decent flexibility for the 3rd and 4th center spots.
The Kaberle deal was a bit more pricey. He's an unrestricted free agent, and the Bruins' cap situation is hardly comfortable. So to give up a top 1st round pick for him is a steep price.
The power play is better. And the Bruins now have more role playing forwards. While the team is much improved, I still think the core isn't as strong as the elite teams in the NHL. There are simply too many "he can score 20 goals and play well on the penalty kill" guys on this team. There aren't enough "he changes the complexion of a game when he's on the ice" type of players. Lucic is a core guy. So is Bergeron. Same with Chara, Thomas, and now Kaberle. I'll say Marchand is, as well.
This team depends too much on the likes of Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder to get hot and score goals. They depend on Tim Thomas to be a freak of nature, and on Zdeno Chara to play 25 minutes a night, shutting down the opposition's top line. And while you can lean on the likes of Chara and Thomas, you can't depend on guys like Horton and Ryder.
If the Bruins were a tree, I'd say the trunk isn't yet strong enough. And some of the branches flap a bit too much in the breeze. But the real problem lies under the surface, in the roots. And by that, I mean Claude Julien. It was nice watching Kaberle play freely against Ottawa, before Julien had taught his overly sequential, A-B-C style to him. Before Julien could overcoach his skilled and creative player.
Julien has hamstrung this team long enough. After the Bruins are eliminated in the 2nd round of this year's playoffs, it will be time to eliminate him.
Friday, February 18, 2011
I used to love NASCAR. Then I sort of liked it. Now I can only enjoy it in very small doses. It's gotten boring, even for a fan of car racing. They used to be 3 hours long, now they're 5 hours. They used to be decided on the track, now they're won and lost in the pits. Super aggressive guys like Dale Earnhardt used to win titles, now it's bland, "consistent" drivers like Jimmie Johnson that dominate. The tracks used to be tight, half mile short-tracks. Now they're extra wide 2 mile cruise control courses.
Anyway, I'll still watch maybe 8 races this year. Probably not start to finish. I'll probably DVR them, then fast-forward through the endless cautions, maybe fast forward to make the cars go 400 miles per hour. I'll watch more Formula 1, which has much less passing, but the cars are cooler, the courses more exciting, the races shorter.
But if you have nothing to do Sunday, I do suggest watching a lap or two of the Daytona 500. In small doses, it can be interesting. Beer helps. Daytona is a high-speed traffic jam, there's always close racing somewhere. And at the very least, it gets people who say "they just go in circles," to realize how hard it is to be that good at driving. Even if they still find watching it to be dull.
I want to pick Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win this one. He's got a fast car. Unfortunately, he always finds a way to lose. I'm going to go with Regan Smith, who I know next to nothing about, have barely heard of, but who had a fast car in the qualifying races yesterday. And the Championship will be won by Kyle Busch.
The Islanders have a handful of quality forwards, and some delicious ice girls.
That's it. They don't have a defense, and certainly don't have any good goaltenders. They've had 6 different guys start in net for them. They don't have a starter and backup, they have an entire rotation.
What can you say about a 6-3 win over a team this bad? I'm not impressed. I hardly care. I'm glad Rask didn't completely blow the 5-1 lead he was given, allowing Thomas a proper night off. Where are all those Tuukka Time twits now?
Seguin had a nice game. He skated with determination and gusto. He was rewarded with a goal. With the great Chris Kelly in the mix now, Seguin will be competing for ice time. Instead of say, learning how to play pro hockey in Providence and getting 20 minutes a night. Seguin did have a nice statement game for himself last night, at least.
Every game, Nathan Horton reminds me more and more of Glen Murray in his final days. Crafty enough to find space for himself, good enough to be in the right place at the right time. Then missing every shot. He's not even getting pucks on goal. When will it be scratch time for him?
The B's play another struggling team in Ottawa tonight.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
What happened to the defensively minded Bruins? You know, that team that struggled to score goals, but were at the top of the NHL in goals allowed and penalty killing? I miss those guys.
The B's have allowed 22 goals in their last 4 games. And in the last 5 games, they've allowed 9 power play goals, in 22 attempts (a 59.1% kill rate). They're PK unit has plummeted to 14th in the NHL and 10th in the East.
And that's just the first problem this team's been having. They don't care for the puck. Last night, they tried so many low-percentage passes, trying to sneak it past Toronto's players, as if they didn't realize they were playing against another team.
The defensemen haven't been playing their best. We saw Grabovski score the game-winner when he was by himself against both Seidenberg and Ference. How does that happen? Chara helped Toronto score earlier when he tripped Tim Thomas. Missed assignments, lack of communication, lack of physicality, these problems have plagued the blue-liners for about a week now.
Either Fraud Julien isn't the defensive genius we once thought he was, or his soldiers have stopped listening.
And the power play unit, which scored another breakaway goal, needs to adjust its philosophy once they've entered the offensive zone. As it is, Chara and Recchi camp out on the blue-line, Krejci by the halfwall, Lucic and someone else in the slot. Then they hover in their little territories. There's no movement, no bodies cycling around, causing disruption and confusion, or at least getting open for a pass. On a power play, Zdeno Chara should not be moving around more than the forwards.
Then there's guys like Blake Wheeler. What does he contribute?
Then there's guys like Daniel Paille. He does his job as a role-player, but the ratio of role-player to playmaker on this team is way off balance.
David Krejci simply isn't a top line center. You have to be able to score in order to be on of those. And to score, you have to be able to shoot. He's on pace to finish the season with 12 goals and 56 points. That's simply not good enough.
Maybe Lucic-Bergeron-Marchand for a top line? Recchi-Krejci-Ryder for the 2nd? Wheeler-Seguin-Horton on the slump line. Thinking about this, should the Bruins get a puck moving defensemen with forwards like these? To me, if they can't get a decent enough forward to supplement this group, then they should keep Toronto's pick and hope to build for 2011-12. Because one more defenseman won't turn David Krejci into a 30 goal scorer, nor will it give Blake Wheeler a purpose.
Bruins at Islanders Thursday night.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
For the 5th time in the last 8 years, the Beanpot was decided with a walk-off OT goal. And for the 18th straight time, the trophy will remain on Comm Ave. Although it very nearly went to Huntington last night.
I'm a BC fan, but was hoping to see Northeastern pull off the upset. The Eagles are 1st in Hockey East, #1 in the country, have won 3 of the last 4 Beanpots, et cetera. The Huskies are 6th in Hockey East, with an 8-8-5 conference record, they're unranked, and haven't won a Beanpot since the Berlin Wall came down. It's hard not to root for the plucky underdog.
You do have to sit back and look at how good BC is, though. They didn't play a very good game defensively. They made some stupid mistakes early, especially in the penalty department. They're penalty-killing was uncharacteristically feeble (they entered with a 91% PK rate, yet allowed 2 power-play goals). And goalie John Muse was Swiss cheese, only stopping 21 of 27 shots.
But they overcame all that. They're so relentlessly skilled. All 12 forwards can skate, pass, and shoot. I hope the Bruins front office saw this game and took a few notes.
The winner of the Beanpot has gone on to be NCAA Champions for 3 straight years now. BC has a very good chance to make it 4.
Monday, February 14, 2011
What have we learned about the Bruins the last few days? They're better than Montreal. They're good. But they're not great. They're only borderline very good when all their players are at their best. Against a high quality opponent, in a playoff-style game, they're likely to lose.
Friday's 6-1 loss to Detroit was a bit of an aberration. Rask let in a few soft ones, and maybe there was a hangover after the Canadiens game. Sunday's 4-2 loss looked much better. The Bruins weren't dominated, but they were outclassed.
Sunday was like a playoff game, especially in the 2nd period. It was high paced, it was close, it was physical. Not the fighting kind of physical we saw against Montreal, this was trench warfare in the corners and in front of the net.
Detroit won most of those battles in the trenches. And even when the Bruins won theirs, they didn't do much to capitalize.
A pair of mistakes by rookies allowed Detroit to score twice. Marchand's giveaway, and Seguin not covering Draper. Mistakes by 22 and 19 year olds are forgivable. Also, give credit to guys like Bertuzzi and Draper, who took advantage of those mistakes.
That's something that struck me. The Red Wings don't have an All-Star team. But they do deploy a ceaseless string of solid, well-rounded players. Eaves, Holmstrom, Bertuzzi, Hudler, Helm, Draper. These are the guys behind Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen, and Cleary.
That's nine forwards right there. All solid. All capable of multiple things. Compare them to these nine guys: Lucic, Bergeron, Ryder, Marchand, Horton, Recchi, Krejci, Wheeler, Seguin. Detroit's is clearly better. Guys like Ryder might have 16 goals, but I'd take Kris Draper over him in a heartbeat.
Detroit didn't dominate. In playoff-style games, nobody ever dominates. But they were clearly superior in execution. That's nothing to be ashamed of. Detroit's 2nd in the West, and one of the best franchises in the NHL. Though it's hard to imagine a deep playoff run if the Bruins are so easily outclassed in playoff-style hockey.
It might be time to start worrying, as well. The B's have dropped 3 of 4, and are 5-5 in their last 10. They have an opportunity to rack up some points, though, as they'll face the 5th, 3rd, and 2nd worst teams in the NHL this week. They'll start with the Maple Leafs Tuesday night.
But in a few months, when this team is up against a quality opponent in a 7 game series, I don't think they're good enough to pull it off. This is a Conference Semifinal team, and nothing more.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
14 goals and 176 penalty minutes. That's not bad for a 60 minute game of hockey. This was pretty much the best a regular season game can get. These teams are vying for a spot atop the division, they don't like each other, and they all have personal histories. I don't know why the NHL made the schedules more balanced and reduced divisional games from 8 to 6 per opponent. Rivalries like this one have fueled hockey for decades, and I wish we could see the Bruins play the Canadiens 8 or 10 times a season.
I've been attacking Michael Ryder all year. Two years, really. Last night was perhaps his best game in a Bruins uniform, though. In the 1st period, he had numerous plays that were slightly positive. Little stuff like getting the puck to an open space in the offensive zone when there's no clear passing or shooting lanes, thus allowing a teammate to win a battle for the puck. I normally would never notice something like that, unless it was from a perennially negaitve player like Ryder.
In the 2nd period, he really came to life. And he basically scored three times, having one goal disallowed because the referees called Marchand for goalie interference when he was shoved into Price.
Horton put forth a quality performance as well. On NESN, they showed some iso-shots of him winning battles against Subban. So even without the 1 goal and 4 assists, Horton was already doing his job. But the 5 point night was also very special.
Krejci rebounded nicely from the San Jose game. I ripped him quite a bit after that one. The thing is, when Krejci has a bad game (which is rare), you get the feeling like it costs the Bruins so much more than if say Blake Wheeler has a bad game. Krejci is such a vital cog to the Bruins' offense, that when he breaks down, the machine breaks down.
Milan Lucic has scored 7 goals in his last 7 games. That's staggering. I think his going after Price was a bit silly, but why tinker with something that's working? 23 goals for Lucic this year. He only had 34 career scores coming into this season.
It's difficult to gain any perspective on games such as this, until some time has passed. Then again, this was the first time the Bruins have beaten Montreal since September 24. So that's substantial. The Bruins are also 4 points ahead of Montreal, with a game in hand. That's also substantial. This game could be a keystone on which to build a foundation of success.
The Original Six fun continues Friday night when Detroit comes to town for the front end of a home and home.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
I keep thinking back to the Matt Cooke hit on Savard. It might have ended Savard's career, and Cooke went wholly unpunished for it. Not that a 4 game suspension would bring Savard back, or have much long-term impact on how Cooke plays the game. But at least there'd be a fraction of a feeling that justice had been served.
The Bruins needed to shut down Savard for the season. Concussions, especially when they come on top of each other, are unlike any other injury. There's no timetable. There's no way to look at an MRI and say "it's 100% better." The B's needed to move on to life without Savard, at least for the season.
And this is probably good for Savard, as well. Again, it's different from other injuries. Hard work can make for a speedy recovery when a leg muscle needs rehabilitation. The rules aren't the same for concussions.
But to all the life-coaches out there who have publicly advised Savard to retire, please shut up. All the people who say he needs to do what's best for his family, for his health, need to remember where we live. This is America. We get to make our own decisions for ourselves. These amateur life-coaches are also doctors, and seem convinced that Savard's brain will explode if he's ever again checked into the boards.
I love how good people are at making decisions for other people.
Anyway, without Savard, the Bruins aren't in bad shape. They do have 4 centers, although Julien doesn't like to give two (Seguin and Campbell) of them more than 10 minutes of ice time each. Which leaves 40 minutes for the other centers to divy up.
Effectively, the Bruins have been without Savard for most of the season. Though now they can allow temporary fixes to become permanent. And maybe they can acquire some outside assistance to help fill the void left behind.
Monday, February 07, 2011
It's that time of year again. And the four college hockey teams of Boston will meet for the 59th time to determine which is best. And once again, the Eagles of BC and the Terriers of BU are the favorites.
BU and BC have won every Beanpot since 1993, and even though they'll be meeting in the opening round, that trend will likely continue. BC stands as the #1 team in the country, and BU is no slouch at 14th.
BC is averaging 4.8 games per game, which is simply ridiculous. And with goaltender John Muse, who has a few NCAA Championships under his belt, it's hard to pick against them. BC has defeated BU twice already. They won 9-5 at Agganis Arena, then 5-2 at Conte Forum. That being said, this is BU's tournament. So don't expect a blowout.
I do think BC will win, though. They're ridiculously deep. They roll so many quality lines, and everyone skates with speed. That speed draws penalties, which lets their Power Play dominate the game. It's just a perfect formula for college hockey. BC is gunning for National Championship #5, and that road starts in the Beanpot. For the last 3 years, the Beanpot winner has gone on to win the NCAA title.
In the early game today, Northeastern plays Harvard. NU has taken a step back this season, but Harvard's taken more than a few. The Crimson are 4-17, with those 4 wins coming against RPI, St. Lawrence, Army, and Colgate. Northeastern's 8-11-6 record is hardly impressive, but they're much better than Harvard.
So I predict BC beats BU 4-2. Northeastern beats Harvard 3-0. Then BC beats Northeastern 5-1, winning their 16th Beanpot.
Schadenfreude (noun): enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others (German)
As a Patriots fan, it's nice to see the Steelers lose. Apart from Mike Tomlin, there's really not much to like about that team. By the way, had Pittsburgh won, I would have written how Mike Tomlin doesn't get nearly enough credit as he deserves. Probably because he's not as secretive as Bill Belichick, not as preachy as Tony Dungy, and not as loudmouthed as Rex Ryan. The guy just coaches a football team and does a damn good job at it.
As a Patriots fan, and as someone who dislikes the Steelers, and who has an intense animosity (coupled with respect) toward Ben Roethlisberger, I'm relieved this morning. But I'm not happy. I'm not from Wisconsin. My team got bounced, early, again. So I recommend to my fellow Patriot fans not to smile so smugly today. Because for the last two seasons, we've enjoyed watching NFC teams doing our dirty work, and eliminating our rivals.
I do think that this game thoroughly exemplified what the NFL is truly about these days. There were about 10 quality teams in the League this year. And there wasn't much on paper that separated them from each other. Green Bay lost 6 games this year. They lost to the Falcons once, then beat them. The Patriots lost to the Jets, then beat them, then lost. The Steelers lost to the Jets, then beat them.
These games really do come down to execution on a few key plays. Last night, Pittsburgh's turnovers pretty much cost them the game. But there were also potential big plays that never materialized. Green Bay muffed an early punt, but fell on the ball. The entire shape of the game changes if that one play changes.
It's a League of execution. So while Patriot fans shouldn't be jumping for joy for a parade in Wisconsin, they also shouldn't be moping about. Our team in Foxborough, though imperfect, has sufficient talent to be among those 8 to 12 good NFL teams. They just need to execute. It's simple to say, difficult to do.
After the Bruins' hard-fought (literally) win over Dallas, you couldn't help but feel optimistic. But as they've done with frequency for the past 3 years, the B's followed a strong performance with a flat one.
They absolutely dominated the Stars, and if not for Rask and the refs, the score would have been closer to 8-1 as opposed to 6-3. Then they give us 60 minutes of mediocrity against San Jose. They managed 26 shots on Niemi, very few of which came from good scoring positions. The thing about Niemi is that he'll give up some juicy rebounds. The Bruins didn't collect any of them. Give credit to the Sharks, who usually had 4 bodies positioned around Niemi at all times, and clearing those rebounds. They outmanned and outmuscled the Bruins down low.
They outmuscled the Bruins everywhere, and that's been a repetitive theme of Sharks/Bruins games. The Sharks are bigger, they skate with power, they win battles.
The Bruins had 4 power plays, and failed to get a shot on goal for 3 of them. That's simply sad.
Krejci played like an utter turd. I don't know how he received the 3rd Star. Maybe it was a typo. Maybe it was a joke. I wouldn't be surprised if I heard he played the game drunk, he was that careless with the puck. It was the worst game I've seen him play. He was by far the worst player on the ice. His shorthanded foolishness cost the Bruins a goal, and who knows how many scoring chances he cost Lucic and Horton with his giveaways.
It's the same old story with this team. Ups and downs. Fighting for 60 minutes, then a few days later relaxing for 60. Playing with intensity and focus, then making stupid mistakes. And simple adjustments fail to be made during the game. Niemi gives up rebounds, so why not try some bad angle shots? Bad angle shot=good angle rebound, as this kindergarten level diagram illustrates:
I just don't expect much from this team. Not with these same repeating lapses in focus and intensity. Not with this coach. This cast of characters. This GM. Guys like Thomas, Lucic, and now Bergeron and Marchand have carried this team. Along with the defense. But they've been undermined by the likes of Michael Ryder, Blake Wheeler, Nathan Horton, and Claude Julien.
We have a good team in Boston, but they're too good at self-sabotaging themselves.
A few days off, then a short but tough stretch of games. The Bruins are 2 points ahead of Montreal and host them Wednesday night. Then it's a home and home with Detroit, the #2 team in the West. Time for the B's to bring their A Game.
Friday, February 04, 2011
The first 35 seconds of this game saw three fights and a goal. And the first 4 minutes saw four fights and two goals. And by the end of the night, 91 penalty minutes had been dispensed, and 9 goals scored. So yeah, this was a pretty action-packed game.
The 6-3 scoreline doesn't convey how thoroughly the Bruins dominated this game. The referees helped slow the B's down in the 2nd period. They disallowed a goal by McQuaid that would have made it 5-0. Then there was the matching 10 minute penalties to Chara and Ott, which kept the Bruins' leading ice-timer in the box.
Tuukka Rask had a bipolar outing. He was brilliant in some key stages. He made a Thomasesque post-to-post stop to keep the score at 2-0 in the 1st. In the 2nd, he made 10 stops in a 5 minute penalty-kill. In the 3rd, he allowed a pair of soft goals that gave Dallas some hope.
Even though he's 6' 2", Rask isn't that big of a guy. He doesn't occupy much space. He's 171, and a bit stringy. Whereas Thomas is 5' 11" and 208. So while Rask excels at the close-quarter stuff, he's vulnerable in long-range situations, when he simply can't make himself big enough to properly cut down the shooter's angle. Plus, he's nowhere near as balanced as Thomas, which is why it takes him so long to move from side to side.
Bergeron scored his 18th and 19th. He scored 19 all of last season. He hasn't reached 20 since the concussion but he's right on the doorstep.
Lucic scored the first goal, his 21st. Krejci set him up with a move so brilliantly subtle that the defender didn't even know he was being manipulated.
Seguin, Marchand, and Thornton rounded out the scoring. You were happy to see Thornton score in the 2nd, after he won his fight in the 1st period. You were happy to see Seguin score because Dallas was coming back, and Seguin has been mired in a slump. And Marchand now has 14, which is simply amazing.
The Bruins host San Jose Saturday afternoon.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Two days after he got the Win in the All-Star Game, Tim Thomas won another game in Raleigh. While 2 goals allowed and 24 saves doesn't sound like a stellar night, Thomas once again was the biggest reason the Bruins won.
A few droughts ended, as Daniel Paille tipped in a Zdeno Chara slapshot, scoring his first goal since April 10th of 2010. He's found a suitable role on the 4th line. That line is more about possession, energy, and being a nuisance. With Marchand moving to the Bergeron line, Paille slots right in with Thornton and Campbell. Similar to those guys, he brings something to the table, namely speed, although he lacks the puck skills to do much with it. He's also an adept shorthanded player. He's this generation's PJ Axelsson.
Horton finally ended his goal drought with a nice backhander that beat Cam Ward up high. Hopefully, the confidence returns, and he starts playing less like Michael Ryder.
The Bruins were clearly the better team, but the last 6 minutes of the game did concern me. Once again, when opposing teams get desperate, the Bruins get sloppy. They're incapable of playing both fast and careful at the same time.
Against teams better than Carolina, that will be a problem. And in playoff games, those desperate minutes will come early in the 3rd period. I'm not sure if the B's are capable of withstanding that much pressure for that amount of time.
The Bruins host Dallas Thursday night.