The healthy scratch. Some coaches use this as a disciplinary action in the same way they would a 6am bag skate. Other coaches use it as a way for players to get a better perspective on themselves and the game. Fortunately for us in Boston, Coach Claude Julien uses it mostly for the latter. Bruins third liner Chris Bourque has played for three different organizations and has been trying very hard to live up to the family legacy. While he has said that he does not go on the ice as the son of Raymond Bourque, one has to assume that mantle is on his shoulders. Bourque was a healthy scratch for Boston’s messy 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, and he got to see the game from that perspective.
The Chris Bourque that was on the ice tonight was the Bourque that the everyone was hoping for. He was poised and patient. He saw an opportunity with the third line early in the first period, and with the help of Rich Peverley and Gregory Campbell made a shot happen that gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead. The fist pump was a lot like his dad’s. The joy and relief was all his own. Bourque played with passion and determination and helped the Bruins clinch that win against long time divisional rival Toronto. It was his first NHL goal since December 30, 2008, when he was a member of the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins were down two thirds of the Merlot Line tonight. Dan Paille was out due to an injury sustained by a hi-stick incident brought about by Sabres forward Tyler Ennis. Shawn Thornton was concussed in the same game in a fight with Sabres’ enforcer John Scott. The Bruins organization already had Lane MacDermid (P-Bruin)on the squad, so they called up another AHL Bruin to fill the slot. Jamie Tardif, another AHL veteran got the call up to play in the big show. Gregory Campbell, the only active ‘Merlot Man’ made that fourth line work well tonight. MacDermid stepped into Thornton’s role handily. He was in two fights with Leafs defenseman Mark Fraser. The first one was a split decision, but the second one was all Bruin.
This was an odd night by the referees as well. Two goals, once for each team were overturned for incidental contact. The second one, a Tyler Seguin goal was even put under review. (why I have no idea.) The rest of the night seemed to go against the Bruins. Hamilton was took a hi-stick to the face, no penalty. Chara gets called for roughing for not even touching Leo Komarov after he was called for boarding against Johnny Boychuk. Seidenberg for interference when there was none. Seguin for a slash that wasn’t a slash. Anyone who could read lips watching the game figured out that Claude Julien was doing his best not to get one of his own for his thoughts on the refs’ judgement.
The night also proved that the watches had been fixed, and Tuukka time was back in sync. Rask stopped all twenty one shots to record his first shutout of the season, and the twelth in his career. That brought his goals against average back down to a more reasonable 2.10, and got his save percentage back up to a .919. For all the “Thank You Kessel” remarks we thrown at Toronto, we have to remember that Tuukka is another gift from the Maple Leafs. We got him in a trade for Andrew Raycroft. A lot of people in Facebook and Twitter (you know who you are) wanted Tuukka out of the net for tonight’s game. Coach Julien believed different, and I will just ask the nay-sayers to refer to his wisdom here tonight.
Boston has won the last seven match ups against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have scored an average of three goals more than they have been scored upon. Phil Kessel was blanked out again, and the ex-Bruin must be feeling some pressure as he has been the focus of one of the worst lop-sided trades in NHL history. Because of him, we ended up with Tyler Seguin. His breakout season earned us the Cup in 2011, and he was the leading scorer last season. It also got us Dougie Hamilton, who is having a better rookie season than captain Zdeno Chara had. We will likely have both players for a decade or longer, and Toronto once again literally got the short end of the stick.