Last night’s shoot out win over the Florida Panthers was not a work of art but it was two points in the standings for the Boston Bruins. The importance of those two points cannot be overstated, for those points give the black and gold a total of 42, which move your Bruins into first place in the Northeast division and more importantly, third place in the Eastern conference. For you haters of the Montreal Canadiens, it also means the Habs have dropped from third place in the east, all the way down to eighth. Hypothetically speaking, if the Stanley Cup playoffs were to begin today, Montreal would open against the Pittsburgh Penguins while the B’s would open against the New York Rangers. I don’t know about you but I would rather see the Bruins have home ice advantage against Marian Gaborik than open on the road against Sidney Crosby. Now, of course, this is all very premature as the playoffs do not begin for four months but the point is, the Bruins are in much better shape today than they were a week ago.
Six days ago, I wrote about how disappointing the season had been for Boston’s fans. In the blog, found here, http://causewaycrowd.com/2010/12/22/do-you-hear-what-i-hear/, I wrote about what fans were saying about the team and how people were jumping off the bandwagon in warp speed. Three days later, people had a change of heart after the home team played with passion, grit, and determination, against the Atlanta Thrashers. I wrote that it remained to be seen which team would show up in Florida to take on the Panthers. You can read about it here, http://causewaycrowd.com/2010/12/25/bruins-deliver-on-expectations/. Well, the club that took the ice in Sunrise, Florida was one that played with determination in bits and spurts. It played just well enough to win in a shoot out. Once again, goaltender Tim Thomas came up big with several saves that would have been goals against lesser netminders while center David Krejci exhibited his speed and puckhandling skills which resulted in two goals for the native of Sternberg, Czech Republic. Blake Wheeler picked up an assist and scored the game winning goal in the shoot out. If not for those three, the result would have been different.
This team needs to come out with a fire in its eyes every night. It was there in the game against Atlanta when everyone in the hockey world had all but given up on this team. To maintain its position in the standings, to remain among the National Hockey League’s elite, it needs to play every game as if it is the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals. When the club is firing on all cylinders, it is one of the best teams in the league. It has the skill, the brains, and the brawn, to go deep into the playoffs. It has the best goaltender in the league. It has four of the most highly skilled lines and good, smart, young, defensemen. The coaching staff is second to none and is as determined to bring a Stanley Cup to Boston today as it was when it was brought in three seasons ago.
Tonight, the club is in Tampa to face off against Steven Stamkos and the Lightning. The Lightning are in second place in the Eastern conference, five points ahead of the Bruins. In the last meeting between the two clubs on December 2, 2010 in Boston, the Lightning limped out of TD Garden after suffering an 8-1 loss to the B’s. Since that loss, all Tampa Bay has done is win seven games, lose twice in overtime, and lose once in regulation. As with the game versus the Thrashers, this is another “big” game for Boston. A win tonight will show the world the Boston Bruins are a legitimate force in the NHL. Which is what this team should be. Which is what this team is capable of. Tonight is another statement game. It will be interesting to see what that statement will be.
Remember to go to http://vote.nhl.com/ and vote for Tim Thomas, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and David Krejci, for the 2011 NHL All Star Game.
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Tags: Atlanta Thrashers Blake Wheeler Boston Boston Bruins David Krejci Eastern Conference Florida Panthers Habs Marian Gaborik Montreal Canadiens National Hockey League New York Rangers Northeast Division Pittsburgh Penguins Playoffs Sidney Crosby Stanley Cup Steven Stamkos Tampa Tampa Bay Lightning TD Garden Tim Thomas