A tired-looking Bruins squad eked out a 2-1 OT win over the plodding Ottawa Senators before a moribund Boston crowd last night, thanks to another great Tuukka Rask showing (30 saves, a few on breakaways) and an ’ugly but we’ll take it’ Patty Bergeron tally. Don’t let the shot totals fool you—77 combined—this one was a bit tough on the eyes. But a win, as they say, is a win.
Nathan Horton’s misfire in the slot fooled Robin Lehner to stake the Bs to a 1-0 lead in the second before Jim O’Brien snapped the Bs streak of 27 straight penalty kills nine minutes later to tie it. Rask made the initial breakaway save but no Bruin could get ahold the puck and it ended up behind him. Exactly 29 minutes later, Lehner knocked a Bergeron deflection of a Dennis Seidenberg shot completely over the goal line while attempting to prevent exactly that and the Bs got the bonus point.
So again, the Bs win by a goal while playing less than their best hockey, largely because of goaltending and a timely score. And again, we’ll take it.
Those clamoring to have somebody other Chris Bourque manning the left wing on the third line may just get their wish soon. Even though Claude has given him a leash that would make the Rancor monster jealous, look for the Bs to make a call-up or two to see if one of the farm boys can provide an offensive spark that gets Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley going (just three goals combined on the year; -3 and -5, respectively, so far this year after +33 and +20 last year). Bourque is certainly giving an honest effort and he’s not playing bad hockey (save for his second penalty last night). But the results just aren’t there (being the power play assist leader on the Bruins right now is like being the lightest kid at fat camp). Despite the team’s hot start, the team simply needs more offense from a third line that was a viable scoring threat the previous two seasons but isn’t right now.
Though they did bring in Jay Pandolfo for depth and veteran experience, it wasn’t for offensive reasons so he’s not the answer for what ails the line’s scoring woes. So rather than have him practice just to sit in the press box for games, it’s likely the Bs would send him to Providence so that he can at least play 15-20 minutes a night and stay game ready. Regardless of who fills the spot, it’s a good possibility they’re just keeping it warm until Peter Chiarelli makes his much-anticipated annual deadline deal. Still, the team needs to get the best production it can in the interim. So look for Ryan Spooner or Jordan Caron to get a crack at providing it.
The Bs sit fourth in the East right now with 28 points, one behind division-leading Montreal but with three games in hand. Tampa Bay is in town for a matinee tomorrow and the Habs come in for a rare Sunday night tilt.
A few more buds for your weekend bowl…
*The Bs again dominated at the dot, winning 37 of 57 face-offs, good for 65%—which is exactly what Bergeron finished with as he went 17-9. Krejci was 10 for 12 (83%). Ottawa’s Peter Regin lost all 10 face-offs he took.
*The best aspect of the new realignment (that, admittedly, was never official) is dead before we ever got to see it. Instead of the four teams that won their postseason division crowns being re-seeded for the semis, which would have created a myriad of potential Stanley Cup Final match-ups, the league is going to stick with the same old geography-based East winner vs. West winner. Boooorrrinnngggg. They had a great opportunity to make it so that the only teams you couldn’t meet in the SCF were your division rivals. But now BOS/PHI, BOS/NYR, CHI/LA, CHI/VAN, MON/PIT, or Columbus/Florida for all the marbles can never happen. And that’s a shame. But it wouldn’t be the NHL if it wasn’t dropping the ball.
*They’re not scoring much but they’re scoring more than the other guy. The highest scoring Bruins (Krejci & Bergeron) are tied for 78th in NHL scoring with 14 points each. But don’t read into that too much. The Chicago Blackhawks, the team that hasn’t lost once in regulation in 20 games, have but one guy in the top 30 (Pat Kane). Well-balanced is always better than top heavy.
*The biggest lesson in the Ricky DiPietro saga is that owners should own and let their managers manage. Charles Wang only has himself to blame for that albatross of a contract. If the Isles opt for an amnesty buyout this summer, DiPietro can always try out for the lead role in Rushmore Academy’s “Serpico”.
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