Tonight we get to see our own Boston Bruins lace up and skate on the home ice of the TD Garden. Tonight’s opponent, the Providence Bruins. This inter-squad scrimmage was a chance for the Boston Bruins to shake the rust off from a fourth month lockout. This was also a chance for some of the P-Bruins to showcase their skills in front of the Bruins management and fans. The near capacity crowd was thrilled to see goaltender Tuukka Rask lead the Bruins out on to the ice. Tuukka’s opponent in the crease was Boston’s #2 goalie, Anton Khudobin. (Both Rask and Khudobin did come up from the AHL Providence team.)
The first face off for the night was between the P-Bruins captain, and long time AHL veteran Trent Whitfield, and Big B’s alternate captain and fan favorite Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron won the opening face off and the game began. The rust was apparent with the Boston squad, some sloppy plays and some odd passes did occur in the first few minutes. The Big B’s quickly started to get that rust off, and they began opening up opportunities for themselves. Boston defenseman Andrew Ference attempted the first shot on goal for the big B’s at 1:52, but it was stopped by Khudobin. Another of the B’s defenders, Johnny Boychuk was impressive. He won two straight battles behind the Providence net in an attempt to get another scoring opportunity together for Providence. Within the first three minutes and thirty seconds, all four lines (with Chris Bourque on the third line), and all six defensemen (with Dougie Hamilton working with Chara) had gotten some time on the ice.
There was not a lot of physical contact early, and that was to be expected. Lord knows, the last thing we need is an over anxious player to board Horton or Seguin, or fly into the net and collide with Rask.
Boston soon had to remember their penalty killing skills. Rich Peverly got the first stop in the sin bin for a two-minute hooking penalty at 9:37. The Bruins did a functional job on the PK for the first one minute twenty of the penalty kill. Then Bruins winger and general hockey miscreant Brad Marchand launched a puck into orbit earning him a delay of game penalty at 11:00. Now, the B-Bruins really had to work out a 5-on-3 against Providence. The Bruins were able to hold out against the 5-on-3, but Jay Pandolfo (invited to camp)on a pass from Maxime Sauve was able to scoot one past Rask. The Providence Bruins took a 1-0 lead at 12:35 in the first period.
Chris Bourque has been making a case for himself. He worked hard for the shots he was able to make and was aggressive with his Providence teammates. He did end up with a boarding penalty though on 13:49, forcing Boston to get pack on the penalty kill. Marchand was getting back his puck handling skills as he danced across the ice to get off a great shot on goal, but Khudobin was very tough in the net during the first period. At the end of the period, Providence had a 8 on 6 advantage on shots on goal, and was leading 1 -0.
The second period showed the Boston team bringing pressure and intensity to the game. Horton was being fed shot opportunities, and made three shots in quick succession. However, Chris Bourque continued his case for a Boston job by getting one by Khudobin and tying up the game at 1-1. (For all you puckheads, it just felt right to hear ‘Zombie Nation’ play in the hall once again.) The Bruins teams played with more aggression. At 9:50, Providence’s lead brawler Bobby Robbins decided to chirp up against Boston captain Zdeno Chara which led to some minor shoving. It looked like Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton were telling the young brawler to calm down afterwards. (Yea, it sounds bloody odd to have two members of Loochy Looch and the Punchy Bunch telling a young brawler to chill.)
Maxime Sauve was able to get the lead back to Providence with a nice shot at 10:20 in the second. That one goal lead lasted a scant twenty-six seconds. Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin showed off their old magic again when Seguin sent a lovely pass to Marchand who held it long enough to get a screen at goal. He then fired a high glove side shot that got past Khudobin that tied it all up at 2-2. The Providence Bruins then gave Boston an opportunity to get the go ahead goal with seperate penalties (14:11 for Sauve, 17:15 for David Warsofsky). The Power Play was something Boston has struggled with, and it is one of the issues that Coach Claude Julien has been working hard to rectify. However, the Boston squad was unable to capitalize on these opportunites, and at the end of forty minutes, it remained tied up at two goals apiece. The Bruins had recovered their shooting skills though, and were leading on SOGs with a 21-16 advantage.
In the intermissions, Andrew Ference (first period) and Brad Marchand (second period) took the time to thank the fans. “If we had any doubt about the support we have, it’s been squashed right here.” said Ference, who was one of the negotiators for the players’ union that was able to save the season and make this game possible. Marchand also thanked the fans for their support and told them that they would try to bring the Cup back to Boston this year. Naturally, the Boston fans were happy to hear that.
If Bourque was making a case for himself, another Providence Bruin was showcasing his skills tonight. Maxime Sauve scored his second goal of the night (and his third point of the game) on a brilliant shot, holding it short side against Rask at 2:08. The score went to 3-2. Forty five seconds later, Jamie Tardif (assists by Miller and Pandolfo) got one past Rask to up the lead to 4-2. It looked like Brad Marchand had a chance to knock the puck out of the ice, but he may have chipped it in. The Providence team began to assail Rask with shots on goal, and the hard work of Providence’s Justin Florek was able to push one past Rask to make it a 5-2 game.
Things were starting to look bleak, but an unassisted goal (6:54) by David Krejci got the Boston team back into the fight. Then Providence were held on a penalty (Sauve), and the Big Bruins were quick to capitalize. Fourteen seconds into the power play, Marchand fired a sweet pass to Dennis Seidenberg, Seids fired a short side shot high and got it under the crossbar to make it 5-4 with a power play goal at 9:20 in the third period. The Boston squad pushed hard in the third period. Rich Peverly found a little space on the short side to even the score at five all.
Both teams were trying to invigorate their squads in the stretch, and fists did fly. Bobby Robbins and Adam McQuaid decided to drop the gloves and dance at 14:22. McQuaid showed his ferocity in the brief battle, proving to the fans and the team that he was indeed 100% ready to go. The third period was ruled by some sloppy defense, and the holes were starting to show. Lane MacDermid got an assist from David Warsofsky to bring the score to 6-5. The Boston team pulled Rask to give them an extra attacker, but the game was put out of reach by an empty net goal by Kyle MacKinnon at 19:29. The final score: Providence Bruins 7, Boston Bruins 5.
Well, this was the only dry run the Bruins are going to have before they dress up for real on Saturday. There was holes on defense and some sloppy goals were made by both sides. With twelve goals scored total, I’m sure Coach Claude Julien will be working with Rask and Khudobin to tighten up before the 19th. There was some bright spots though. Both Bourque and Sauve registered three point games, and it had to given Bruins management a good feeling knowing that there are half a dozen players who can step up and wear the B if necessary. Well fans, it all starts Saturday night, when the Boston Bruins take on the New York Rangers on Saturday. It’s time to rescue the cup, so let’s go Bruins!