In this abbreviated season, every point is up for grabs and it proves that on any given night, any given team can beat any other. That was certainly the case this week. Even with a rough four games in six days, our Boston Bruins went 3-1 and are still atop the Northeast Division and the Eastern
The Bruins showed their mettle early in the week with a 5-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. It proved that Dougie Hamilton was fully ready to be a NHL player, (thanks again Kessel!) and was meshing well with the Bruins d-men. Special teams also played an important part of that game. Two power play goals (albeit one was Tyler Seguin’s empty netter), and a short handed goal courtesy of Brad Marchand. Bruins’ back up goaltender Anton Khudobin also chalked up his first win of the year in that victory.
The very next night the Boston Bruins had a run in with the New Jersey Devils. The Bruins were able to take home another victory. They beat the Devils 2-1 in a shootout victory. Nathan Horton once again our clutch master as he got in a goal past Devils’ netminder Johan Hedberg to tie up the game with less than five minutes in regulation. It was a night of firsts in the shootout though. The Devils led the league in shootout wins last season with twelve, and it was anyone’s game when the shootout began. Tyler Seguin had his first attempt nullified due to someone throwing food on the ice. “That’s a first,” Tyler Seguin said afterwards. “I’m still not sure what it was. Maybe a hot dog.”
It came down to Brad Marchand taking his first shootout goal EVER. “All I could hear was [Seguin] saying, `go high, go high,’ ” said Boston’s Little Ball of Hate, “but I just kind of blacked out. I don’t know what happened. … I’m serious. I blacked out.” He got the goal through and when the last Devils’ shot bounced off Tuukka Rask’s pad, the Bruins had gotten their second win in as many days.
Then we had a slip up. The Buffalo Sabres had come to town, and they came ready to play. Our defense just wasn’t clicking like it usually did, and the Sabres took advantage of a lot of our mistakes. Thomas Vanek, who has been a magician with his goals against us earned his eighth career hat trick against us. We lost Shawn Thornton early to a fight with Buffalo’s resident pugilist John Scott. Thornton got a concussion in the dust up and is slated to be out for a week.
The Bruins weren’t quiet on offense though. Rich Peverley got his first goal of the season, and Brad Marchand added two of his own. David Krejci’s goal in the third kept the Bruins competitive even with the breakdowns. Coach Claude Julien had no excuses over the Bruins first loss of the season. The Bruins were defeated by Buffalo 7-4.
The Bruins came back with a vengeance against a tough Toronto Maple Leafs team and some visually impaired referees. I had joked on Twitter that the refs should have gotten the third star for Tornoto and I stand by that assessment. While I am not accusing them of a lack of integrity, I will call them out for missing penalties that should have been assessed against the Maple Leafs. Two goals were disallowed in the game, one for each team. Both were waved off as incidental contact.
Chris Bourque had been a healthy scratch for the Sabres fiasco. It gave him a new perspective on the NHL playing game, and he used it well. He put up his first goal (and the game winner) early in the first period. “I grew up being the biggest Boston Bruins fan so being able to score a goal for the Bruins is something that I am never going to forget for the rest of my life,” said Bourque who is the son of Bruins’ legend, Raymond Bourque. “I just wanted to drive hard to the net and maybe drag a defenseman to me and open up a little lane … and it ended up working out – a perfect pass right on my tape, and I just buried it.”
It was a great night for Boston to exorcise a few demons. Tuukka Rask earned his first shutout win for the season, and the twelth of the year. “I think I’ve played solid every night, despite letting in six goals last game.” Rask said. “When you get a shutout, there are no mistakes, so mistake wise, maybe yeah [it was my best game]. We didn’t go on that run and gun, which happened last game, we just stuck with the program and grinded it out.” The only scary moment was when Marchand, who got tripped up by Reimer’s skate ended up flying into the backboard. He was pulled after a few shifts and is listed as day-to-day now.
“It was a cautionary move on our part, instead of making the situation worse,” Coach Julien said. “We don’t want to lose players for long term injuries by pushing through a minor one.”
It was a rough and tumble week for the Bruins, but the Bruins have proven their depth. Lane MacDermid had two fights in the Toronto game both against Mark Fraser. It’s safe to say MacDermid pulled a draw on the first one, and handily beat Fraser in the second. Jamie Tardif, another AHL veteran came up from Providence and showed his ability to quickly mesh with the Boston’s fourth line. Gregory Campbell, MacDermid, and Tardif played that game like they had been playing together all season.
The Bruins, with their thirteen points lead all teams in the Northeast Division and the Eastern Conference. They have the third best team in the league, and week three starts off with a very pivotal matchup against one of their oldest rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Whoever wins that game will lead the division, and no doubt the Bruins will be ready for this challenge.