Playing in Montreal is always special, mainly because (most) Habs fans are assholes (not you of course) and their building is loud as Hell with their drunken singing and general paranoia and arrogance bouncing off of each other like two neutrons in an atom (I think? I didn’t take physics and I’m amazed I spelled those words correctly. How does stuff work?). Tonight was extra special because Johnny Boychuk was checked into the boards and left with a scary-looking injury. Okay, maybe that’s not special. That’s more terrifying. Montreal was at least nice enough to give him a smattering of polite applause after he was stretchered off of the ice by the EMTs and sent to a local hospital. The latest reports say he’s at least healthy enough to leave the hospital and travel back to Boston with the team, so that’s a minor blessing.
What was not as much of a blessing was the man who accidentally injured him in the first place scoring the go-ahead goal in the second period. Max Pacioretty has been on a bit of a hot streak lately and his efforts put Montreal on top permanently. The Canadiens had clearly begun to wear down after playing three games in four days when the third period got underway, but Carey Price was just good enough to make a one-goal lead stand up. The Bruins played like a team that really wanted that second goal, but it never came. So the Bruins lost a game and the lead in the division and temporarily at least lost Johnny Boychuk. Now the team is headed back to New England to wait for the Penguins on Saturday night. It should be another fun contest with Pittsburgh, so watch it. I’m ordering you.
See? I told you it was just one game. Of course the Blue Jackets are not anything like the Red Wings (or even the Rangers) but they’re still professionals. The Bruins held Columbus to a season-low 14 shots against backup goaltender Chad Johnson and never really looked like anything other than the better team. Two goals in the opening period were all that it took, and Boston had a permanent lead before the first intermission. Early in the third, they were ahead by three. Two of the three belonged to Milan Lucic, who increased his team lead in goals scored to 11 with a power-play tally in the first period and bounced a puck into the net early in the third.
Columbus at least spoiled the shutout with fourteen minutes to go, but that was the end of their offense as the Bruins held them down the rest of the way to earn their second victory in two days. This never really seemed like much of a contest, as the Bruins outclassed the Jackets most of the night and weren’t in any real trouble at any point. The two teams came to blows at a few different points, maybe the result of a visibly weaker team trying to provoke a stronger opponent or maybe just a result of the Jackets’ frustration but that was the only real drama from the game. Boston has a four-day break between now and their next contest in Montreal on Thursday. So rest easy and wait for more exciting Bruins hockey. Or just sleep until then.
Yeah so how do you recap THAT? A bad second period is one thing, but the Bruins pretty much fell apart and let the Red Wings tear them to pieces after the first intermission. Six unanswered goals were scored before the Bruins broke the shutout when Jarome Iginla scored late in the third. Red Wings fans were still nice enough to boo the lone Boston goal in spite of having a commanding lead at that point. At least Rask didn’t freak out and throw another tantrum like he did against St. Louis. I don’t want to sound like I dislike Tuukka, who is immensely talented and one of the most important Bruins, but his outbursts are truly a sight to behold.
Anyway, the Bruins will try to shake this one off against the Rangers on Friday afternoon. The Bruins announcers were quick to remind us that the team went on a tear after the last time they allowed six goals, so not to worry. This is one game anyway, ignore it. The Bruins are a good team. Hockey!
Okay so it’s generally accepted that the Penguins are a pretty good team even though the division they play in is considered pretty bad. They’re in the playoffs every year and usually go pretty deep into the postseason in spite of the general challenge of doing so. They also have a guy named Sydney Crosby who’s pretty good when he isn’t vomiting and complaining about the lights. With all this in mind it was a pleasant sight to see the Bruins leading the Penguins by two at the first intermission and by one as the second intermission arrived. Oh, but it’s never that easy against a team as gifted as the Penguins. Pittsburgh tied the game in the third and it looked like overtime was going to happen before Chara scored on a wrist shot to give the Bruins another lead that you’d probably expect them to hold.
But yeah, not that easy. It’s never that easy. As time wound down the Penguins crashed the Boston net with their own goaltender pulled. Apparently the team’s focus was entirely on the puck because they let Crosby sneak behind the defense on the other side of the net and slam-dunk a pass past Rask with literally a second left on the clock to send the game into overtime. That sucks, right? Yeah man. But the Bruins repeatedly pressured the Pittsburgh net and Guy I Am Really Starting To Like Torey Krug put a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to win it and send everyone home happy. Everyone except the Penguins I guess. But they get to beat up a wilting Maple Leafs team next so who cares?
The next Bruins game will be against the Red Wings on Wednesday night. Detroit is good, but thus far they haven’t been as good as the Bruins. Wll they surprise us all and prove that they’re actually better? I don’t have any idea. What? I can’t tell.
It would be improper to blame this one on Tuukka Rask. After all, he’s played three games in the last four days and won two of them, including stealing Tuesday night’s marathon against the Rangers in New York. The goal he allowed on a weak dribbler in the second period was painful to watch, sure, but these things happen in hockey and it’s not as if Rask hasn’t already done the Bruins a lot of favors this week.
A better takeaway from this game might be how the Bruins played up to a very tough opponent from the Western conference and managed to tie the game up and take it into overtime before losing the shootout. The Western conference looks to be absurdly competitive this year, and thus far St. Louis has been one of it’s top teams. The Bruins managed to spend a great deal of time in the attacking zone and got more than a few good opportunities on the Blues’ net during the night. The only downside to the Bruins’ play was the lack of that third goal and the apparent frustration that Rask displayed after losing the shootout. Not a bad result from a “measuring stick” contest.
The next Bruins game is a matinee rematch on Saturday against the Hurricanes. Boston took advantage of Carolina’s generally shaky offense and won their last meeting at the PNC Arena, can they do it again? Yes, yes they can. That’s a dumb question and I’m ashamed to know you. Will they? Yeah, I don’t know. That’s a better question but I don’t know. I’m starting to trust you again though. Watch and find out!
So it’s accepted that playing games on consecutive days is bad for hockey teams. It’s also accepted that this must be even harder for goaltenders to do with all the work that the average netminder has to put in during the average NHL contest. To make it harder on Tuukka Rask, New York was seeing the return of star power-forward Rick Nash after a monthlong absence with an injury. Oh, and New York has a very good goaltender of it’s own in Henrik Lundqvist. So of course tonight Tuukka started his second game in 24 hours and he managed to almost single-handedly win it for the Bruins.
Boston didn’t entirely resemble the tired team that they looked like when they played against the Senators on Friday night. But they did manage to leave Rask exposed at more than a few times and wound up forcing him to make 43 saves to get the win. The Bruins scored two goals on their first ten shots against Lundqvist, including the game-winning shorthanded tally on a breakaway by Daniel Paille. The Rangers generally missed opportunities or were foiled by Rask while the Bruins did their best to keep New York out of their end long enough for Tuukka to take a breather. Eventually time ran out on New York and Boston won on the back of it’s goaltender for the umpteenth time this year.
In slightly more negative news, Dennis Sidenberg left with an undisclosed injury and his condition won’t be updated until tomorrow. Matt Bartkowski also left after getting run into the boards but managed to return in spite of looking like he wasn’t skating at 100%. The Bruins head home now to wait to play the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. The Blues are a good team that doesn’t play against Boston very often, so I don’t know, check it out. See some hockey.
Two days rest really did the Bruins some good, didn’t it? Whereas last Friday night they played like a tired group against a team that they normally demolish, tonight they played like less-tired group against another team that they normally do well against. The first period tonight played out almost exactly like Friday’s did, with the Bruins generally outskating their opposition and taking a quick two-goal lead before surrendering a goal late in the first period and heading to the locker room ahead only by one. Unlike Friday night however, they actually held it together this time. The Bruins continued their lengthy consecutive penalties-killed streak after they ended up under a two-man disadvantage in the second period and then scored an insurance goal in the third when Cam Ward fell out of his net and Johnny Boychuck put the puck past him.
From there on it was almost all Bruins. Milan Lucic scored an empty-net goal to seal the deal with ten seconds remaining on the clock, but for all intents the game was over by that point. The Bruins had shown some signs of collapsing similarly to the way that they did against the Senators, but this time they held together and extended their lead instead of making mental errors and allowing the other team back into the game. It probably doesn’t hurt that the Bruins are a defensive-minded team and the Hurricanes have a horrible offense, but a win is a win. It’s another quick turnaround for the Bruins as the next game is tomorrow night (tonight?) against the Rangers in Madison Square Garden. The Rangers play has improved as of late and it’ll be another game without rest after some travel for the Bruins, so we’ll see how this turns out. Watch it. I’m ordering you.