The Bruins took care of business against the Ducks last night and Marty Turco earned his first W as a Boston Bruin with some fine play in net. Last night’s game wraps up the Bruins three-game West coast road trip (2-1-0) with the B’s coming back to Boston for a Tuesday night game with the pesky Lightening. With only a handful of games remaining in the regular season, it looks like the Bruins will nab the number two or three seed in the Eastern Conference.
Last night, Big Z, Pouliot, and Brian Rolston all tallied goals. Rolston’s goal was particularly nice because it resulted from a nice breakout pass, some fancy footwork and nice feed from Chris Kelly. From there Rolston delivered a snipe pass Jonas Hiller that rang the post and then in. The Kelly-Pouliot-Rolston line has been effective since Claude has put them together and I would expect to see that line continue to stay in-tact even with Rich Peverley’s return to the ice for two reasons. First, the KPR has been good over the last couple games, finally getting Rolston involved, and secondly having Peverley and Marchand as Bergeron’s two wingers makes for a dynamic line with a lot of speed to burn.
The B’s put an absolute beatdown on the Toronto Maple Leafs last night in more ways than one. Four goals in the first, three in the second and one in the third equaled a snowman and showed the fans that this team may have just got its offense clicking again. Over the last few games each line has been playing well. They are causing turnovers, supporting the puck, and capitalizing on the other team’s mistakes by putting the puck in the net. Rolston is starting to get in sync with Big Z at the point on the powerplay and it is paying dividends. Pouliot and Caron have been playing their asses off lately and both have been showing up on score sheet as a result.
In addition to the scoreboard beatdown, Milan Lucic handed old sparring partner Mike Komisarek one uppercut after another in an all too familiar fashion. It was good to see that 6’4” 240lbs Komisarek is still as soft as he was when he was with Montreal.
Let’s see if the Bruins can keep this thing rolling. Tim Thomas is playing with confidence, the offense may have just lit a spark under itself, and they have a little motivation now with Ottawa seriously in the picture (a wake up call when they passed the Bruins in the standings).
UPDATE: Marty Turco has officially joined the Boston Bruins after being claimed off of waivers. Minutes after the waiver deadline passed, Turco joined the team on the ice for practice, even staying an extra 30 minutes after the team was done to get some extra work in.
The Bruins barely held on to beat the Maple Leafs last night in Toronto. The Bruins had a two goal lead in the 3rd period thanks to young guns Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron who each netted two goals. However, Toronto pulled within one thanks a Mikhail Grabovski snap shot. In the waning seconds of the game, the Bruins were able to maintain the lead despite a 6 on 4 advantage for Leafs. The effort stopped the two game skid they were on and gave them a much needed win. Thomas had 25 saves on 29 shots, claiming he is on a little bit of a bad luck streak right now. He has definitely not had some bounces go his way; speaking like a Sox fan, let’s hope he gets his bad luck out of the way now, so it’s all good luck for the playoffs.
In other news, the Bruins and GM Peter Chiarelli are not overly optimistic that Marty Turco will join the club. Chiarelli put the odds at 50-50. The reason for this is because Turco has to clear waivers before the Bruins can sign him, and there are other teams out there who would benefit from Turco’s services during the stretch run. Any NHL team has until 12 p.m. ET on Wednesday to put in a claim for Turco. On Monday night, he signed a one-year contract with Boston for a pro-rated salary of $600,000 and had to be placed on the waiver wire because he had only played in Europe this season.
This is a smart move by Peter Chiarelli. After losing Tuukka Rask for 4-6 weeks with a lower abdomen/groin strain the Bruins were left with fourth string Providence goaltender Michael Hutchinson to back up Tim Thomas. I like this signing because it gives the Bruins a veteran, with experience, who won’t be rattled in games down the stretch when Timmy needs a break. Turco is 36 years old and has a career 2.35 goals against average .910 save percentage, primarily with the Dallas Stars. He wasn’t great for the Blackhawks in 2010-2011 (Turco has been playing in Austria this year), but he is only going to be needed as a short-term stop-gap as he is not eligible for the Stanley Cup playoffs because he was acquired after the trade deadline. Turco is expected to join the B’s on Wednesday and I would expect Claude to start him within the week to get him into the flow of the team and the NHL game.
The Bruins had a tough weekend dropping two games the New York squads, each by one goal. The lost a tough one to the Islanders at the Garden as a result of a blown icing call by the officials. I was at the game and it was a clear-cut, textbook, icing that was waved off for inexplicable reasons. This caused the three B’s forwards to pause for just long enough to create a breakout opportunity going the other way resulting in the GWG for the Islanders. Overall, the team played well, but you have to put more pucks in the back of the net against the Isles, considering they scored 12 goals in their previous two games against them. To add insult to injury, the B’s lost Tuukka Rask and Daniel Paille to injury. Definitely not what we need heading into the stretch run. Paille is great on the energy line and PK, and losing Tuukka will make things more difficult for Timmy moving forward because he will see a heavy workload.
After Saturday’s loss the Bruins made their way to Madison Square Garden to face the conference-leading New York Rangers. Despite a horrific start (falling behind 2-0 in the 1st period) the Bruins outplayed the Rangers for most of the game. They put together about 53 strong minutes and 7 poor minutes but that was enough to cost them the game. Thomas wasn’t his best given his atrocious save percentage but in a 7 game series I am confident he can match or outplay Henrik. In fact, I hope we play these guys in the playoffs because I know the B’s can beat them even though it has not played out as well as we could hope in the regular season. Maybe it will give the Rangers some false confidence.
The Bruins got a huge 4-3 OT victory vs. a solid New Jersey Devils team at the garden last night. David Krejci has three of the four Bruins goals last night after only two goals in his previous thirteen games. The sudden spark might have been a result of a Julien lineup switch that returned Krejci back to his center position and paired with Tyler Seguin. I’d say that worked out well. Krejci comes up with a hat trick on five shots and Seguin buried the other goal with a snipe and also added an assist. If this new pairing can generate some much-needed offense for the Bruins it will be huge as the team gets ready for the stretch run.
Krejci has had an up and down, boom or bust type of year. He has been working hard, but sometimes he just doesn’t play with the confidence that should play with and it affects his performance on the ice. When plays with swag, he makes dazzling passes and his linemates always benefit from that. Krejci does seem to come up big in important moments (like the playoffs) so maybe now that we are starting to approach the end of season he will improve his consistency, which is going to help Seguin’s production (assuming they stay together) and help the Bruin’s skill players put more crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
As questionable as Chiarelli’s “depth” (rather than scoring) moves were I was glad to see Brian Rolston come back to Beantown. Back in the late 90s, early 00s Rolston was one of my favorite Bruins players. He was a great two-way forward, a leader, and was able to stay injury-free. However, my favorite part of his game was his short-handed skills. When he saw significant time on the penalty kill he had a knack for coming up with some shorties. From 2000-2004 (with the B’s) he had 16 short-handed goals, a pretty impressive number which included 9 SHG in the 2000-2001 season. (Enjoy the throwback pic: Rolston with former Bruin Eric Weinrich)
Rolston, 39, began his career with the New Jersey Devils during the 94-95 season where he was a member of that Stanley Cup team. He has also been a part of three U.S. Olympic teams which sort of explains why he was the captain of the Minnesota Wild after he left the Bruins. No doubt Rolston brings hardened veteran experience to the team. Hopefully he is a positive influence in the locker room during these inconsistent times for the Bruins. Given that he was just on the Islanders one of the cellar dwellers of the NHL, he can provide some perspective for these guys.
Senators goaltender Robin Lehner (20 years old) made himself known to the Bruins faithful last night when he registered 32 saves and his first career shutout. Young defenseman (21 days younger than me, hard to believe) Erik Karlsson tallied the only goal for Ottawa on a gift powerplay. Tyler Seguin was called for a phantom interference penalty which ended up costing the B’s the game. Although, the Bruins did not exactly play their best in the first two periods (more like terrible) they came out strong in the third, but playing catch-up hockey is not this team’s strength. They are dominant when they score first, so these sluggish starts are killing them. Not to take anything away from Lehner, but the Bruins should have buried the puck on a couple of chances. Even though Lehner was great in net, guys like Bergeron and Marchand need to finish strong. After posting five goals on these guys a couple of nights ago on the road, it’s kind of unacceptable to come home and get shut-out considering Ottawa has sneakily crept up to within one point of the Northeast division leading Bruins. Ottawa has won six of seven and the B’s have lost four of six. The Bruins have a game tomorrow vs. the Devils and Saturday vs. the Islanders before a big showdown with the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon. I would like to see this team get a little momentum heading into a potential Eastern Conference finals matchup, by winning these next two by reestablishing their checking game, outskating their opponents, and causing turnovers. When they stick to this formula, its plain and simple, they win games.
Over the weekend, the annual Accenture Match Play Tournament took place in Arizona. Different from stroke play, match play pits two golfers head-to-head in a bracket style tournament, similar to the March Madness tourney (with maybe just a little less excitement). The American and goat of the Ryder Cup two years back, Hunter Mahan edged out rising star Rory McIlroy for arguably his best career victory. Mahan was solid throughout the event, but it was McIlroy who really impressed me. If you don’t already know, this kid is damn good. After falling 3 holes behind Lee Westwood in the semi-final match, McIlroy rallied back to take the next 3 out of 4 holes and square the match. I don’t know if there will ever be another Tiger Woods, but McIlroy is going to be great, if he isn’t already. Look for him to take over the World Number 1 ranking after the tournament this weekend.
Now on to the Bruins…
I don’t know about you but I am excited for the Bruins vs. Senators tonight. Up in Ottawa a couple of nights ago there were a few mix-ups and a lot of unfinished business left on the table. Both Boychuck and Corvo took some heavy shots late in the game from Senators Chris Neil and Kyle Turris respectively. Neil’s shot on Boychuck was clean, but unneccessary. It was a huge hit that if the roles were reversed we would be going crazy. However, since it was our guy Boychuck getting steamrolled I was a little pissed and Zdeno Chara also wasn’t too happy because with 7:00 minutes left in the third he duked it out with Neil. I’m not too sure if that will be the end of that, but look for guys to really “finish” their checks on him tonight. The hit on Corvo was not so clean. Turris received a 2 minute minor for boarding, but the hit to the head left Jack Edwards up in arms so I expect to see some retaliation on Turris tonight by either McQuaid, Thornton, or even Corvo. Regardless, it should be a good, physical game which suits the B’s well. Also look for new additions Brian Rolston (right) and Mike Mottau.
The Bruins did pretty much nothing at the trade deadline. They acquired former Bruin Brian Rolston and former BC standout defenseman Mike Mottau from the New York Islanders. They also landed defenseman Greg Zanon from the Minnesota Wild. These are all virtually zero-impact moves so it looks like Chiarelli is confident with this team moving forward. Perhaps Horton will be ready for the playoffs.