The first line of the Boston Bruins has been making a difference in every game they’ve been on the ice for. The Bruins first line which is composed of David Krejci, Nathan Horton, and Milan Lucic have proven how bloody good they are these last few seasons. There was concern though. Milan Lucic elected not to play in Europe as he was about to become a father. Nathan Horton had been out with post concussion symptoms from a hit sustained a year ago. Would the Bruins’ first line be able to function in a hectic compressed season?
We were expecting a low scoring game tonight. Both sides play aggressive defensive-minded hockey. Both goalies were ready for this. Tuukka Rask had a 1-1-2 record with a 1.29 GAA and a .954 save% against the Devils . Johan Hedberg was getting his first start of the season against the Bruins, but last year’s record (17-7-2, 2.22 GAA, .918 save%) showed he was just as game as Rask was. Both sides played well on the defense, but couldn’t make many moves in the opponent’s zone. The Bruins’ first line was hitting like defensemen, and making a point to keep the puck away from Rask.
Shawn Thornton was the only Bruin to get in some action on the dance card tonight. He was up against Krystofer Barch, and the battle of the #22’s was on. Barch and Thornton had some previous chemistry. This was their sixth bout together and both players went at each other with gusto. This fight, which went on for seventy seven seconds, showed that experience and skill will beat youth and anger any day of the week. Thornton won by unanimous decision. The Bruins have gone 45-16-9 in any situation where Thornton has dropped the gloves, and he fights generate energy like a wind turbine.
The play in the second period was kind of sloppy though. The Bruins racked up a series of penalties that put their perfect penalty kill to the test. Sadly, the record ended at twenty four. A tripping penalty against Johnny Boychuk (7:22) set the Devils up for one of their own, David Clarkson to get one past Tuukka and end the streak. The Bruins are still 27 for 28(96.4%) on the penalty kill and it still makes them the best team in the league.
Milan Lucic summed up the play style in an intermission report “They like to play the heavy game, and so do we.” he told Naoko Funayama “It’s going to come down to a lot of 1-on-1 battles.” Those battles led to more chances, but Hedberg was doing a very good Rask impersonation. With just over four minutes left in the game, the Bruins first line made a great offensive play that had the puck pass around the line until it ended up in the hands of the Bruins’ resident miracle worker, Nathan Horton. #18 channeled the skill that made him the savior of the 2011 season and got one past the Devils, tieing it up at one all. Can Horton NOT make magic happen?
The game went to overtime, and the main line went out there and played with a vengeance. Johnny Boychuk made up for his tripping era by being his usual beastial self on defense. After the five minute four-on-four, we had to resolve it in a shootout.
Tyler Seguin‘s hands have been making a recovery and he proved their return by getting one past Hedberg. However, some fan threw something on the ice. Even though it was behind Hedberg and he did not see it, the Devils bench protested to the refs. So, in a rather novel turn of events (novel is the author’s way of describing a totally BS call.) They essentially called it a mulligan. Seguin had to shoot it all again. So he did, and scored again. Ilya Kovalchuk from the Devils (who leads the league for time on ice for a forward) was also able to get one on Rask. Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, David Krejci, and Chris Bourque (Happy Birthday Chris, but it was an odd choice there) all took shots on Hedberg and missed.
Enter The Little Ball of Hate. Brad Marchand who said that he had blacked out until after the play had been made got one past Hedberg, forcing Marek Zidlicky ( a defenseman) to try to stuff one past Tuukka. Nope, Tuukka saw it coming and batted it away. The Bruins won it in a shootout 2-1. They’re still perfect in regulation, and have earned 11 out of 12 points so far this season. Great goaltending, and a dominant presence by the Krejci line kept this game under control and helped bring about another Bruins victory.