For most of the first 10 games, it was typical for Tuukka Rask to bail out his teammates with yet another killer save to hold a lead or maintain a tie. In the eleventh game, it was the skaters that bailed out the pulled-for-an-extra-skater goalie by scoring two goals in the final 91 seconds to come back from a 3-0 deficit and absolutely steal a point from the New York Rangers.
Though the Bruins did lose the breakaway contest and the bonus point, it felt like a win given the seemingly hopeless situation they found themselves in 12 minutes left in the third period. A subpar Tuukka gave up two goals he shouldn’t have, the second one (Rangers’ final goal) a real softie, and they were down three goals to a red-hot Hank Lundqvist. But the Bs clawed their way back to erase the deficit. Though Hank made 37 saves including some stellar early ones, he was the victim of bad bounces more than anything, as all three Boston goals were bang-bang type plays close to the crease that he couldn’t do much on.
Of course, the Bs deserve credit for thrice properly executing a man-advantage situation …even if they didn’t score one power play goal (missing one by a mere second). They once again played their never-say-die style to be in position to take advantage when the opportunity struck. And they did. David Krejci (4th), Nathan Horton (4th), and team-leading Brad Marchand (7th) each scored in the third to complete the comeback. Marchand’s goal was a sweet snipe that goal scorers score and we’ve been seeing more and more of those.
After playing the Blueshirts three times in their first 11 games, the teams can only meet again in the playoffs. Who wouldn’t want New York vs. Boston in the playoffs on the 40th anniversary of their last series? The teams again played a fast-paced game with a pretty good tempo and some quality highlights. One game was regulation, the second was OT, and the third was a shootout. These two have ‘seven-game series with four OT games’ written all over it. If not this year, there’s always a potential Cup Final after realignment.
A few more buds for your bowl…
*When the Bs were down, it certainly looked like Shawn Thornton asked Aaron Asham to go but the Rangers tough guy didn’t want to risk giving the other team momentum from a fight. Guess #22 is feeling back to his old self.
*Rick Nash showed why the Rangers messed with their much-ballyhooed team chemistry of last year to obtain the one-time Columbus centerpiece. He faked Andrew Ference out of his recycled jock strap while assisting on New York’s first goal then beat Rask with an insane shootout goal. His 3-7–10 line and +7 both lead the team. So far, it’s been money well spent above Penn Station.
*Speaking of Columbus, they’re still a pretty good distance from even resembling a contender and have yet to forge any real identity in 13 years except for being the place that Jeff Carter cried himself out of. Bad hires right out of the gate immediately crippled the fledgling franchise and the hole only seemed to get bigger each year. More bad hires coupled with awful drafting have essentially made the Jackets a perennial expansion team. But with former “That’s Incredible” host John Davidson now the head capo of the Blue Jackets’ front office, fans of Ohio’s first NHL entry since the Cleveland Barons should have every reason to be optimistic. A sharp hockey mind, the former Rangers netminder-turned-TV guy-turned team exec recently left St. Louis after returning the Blues back to respectability with shrewd drafting and the hiring of the very well respected Ken Hitchcock (who, ironically, coached the BJs to their lone playoff berth). He’s expected to name former Bruin Jarmo Kekalainen as the team’s new GM today which will make the Finn the first European GM in NHL history. Ace Bruins scout Kirk Luedeke (a great Twitter follow for Bs fans) says the former Director of Amateur Scouting for the Blues is a “great judge of talent”. Which immediately makes him infinitely more qualified than the guy he’s replacing, Scott Howson (he’s the guy who fired his scouting staff right after the draft). Columbus is a great hockey market just waiting…and waiting…and waiting to happen. They’re still quite a ways away from contending but still don’t draw too bad considering their history. But thanks to their most recent hires, things are looking up for the ugly step-child of Rust Belt teams. Here’s hoping success comes soon. Healthy teams/markets make for a healthy league.
*On the 1st goal, there’s nothing Tuukka could’ve done after Nash undressed Ference. But he should’ve had the second one given the clean look he had and there’s absolutely no excuse for the third goal. Just a terrible goal to give up at a terrible time. Being the stand-up teammate he is, Rask owned his mistakes. Being an NHL goalie, he likely already forgot them.
*Gotta love Mad Jack telling people “Get over it…you go to hockey games to get excited” about criticism of his style. Testify, brother.
*Colorado is listening to trade offers for the NHL’s last RFA and their one-time budding star, Ryan O’Reilly. Incredible how far the Avalanche have fallen and how the situation deteriorated to this. Instead of being a franchise cornerstone, O’Reilly will become trade bait for a rebuild. Even more unreal is that not one other GM even tried to sign him to an offer sheet.
*The Bs finally signed local boy Jay Pandolfo. The Burlington High/BU product who won two Cups with the Devils as one of the league’s top PKers has been practicing with the team, serving as a de facto healthy scratch in the press box, and patiently waiting to sign with his hometown team (he stated the Bs were the only team he would make this move for given that he and his family live 10 minutes north of the city). Though the Bs had the money and contract slot to make the move a week or two ago, it wasn’t done until Tim Thomas was shipped to Long Island (Pandolfo’s last team) along with his $5M cap hit and one of 50 allowed contracts (more on him below). The versatile forward brings tons of experience, provides veteran depth, is still in great shape, and will be an additional penalty killer. It’s a good signing for short money that likely won’t affect any deadline plans. Whether or not Pandolfo needs a few games in Providence, it seems logical to assume Lane MacDermid will be the one who heads south after Pandolfo eventually joins the team. MacDermid was a healthy scratch last night along with #7 D-man Aaron Johnson.
*Jaromir Jagr scored his 669th NHL goal last night which gave him sole possession of 10th place for most goals all-time, bumping Luc (c, no k) Robitaille to 11th. Next up? Mario Sr. with 690. Jesus, imagine if he didn’t dog it for a few of those years? Talking possibly #3 goal scorer ever.
*The most unreal, improbable, thrilling, head-scratching, and bizarrely historical run by a Boston Bruins goalie ended on Friday when Tim Thomas (and his $5M cap hit) was traded to the New York Islanders for a 2nd rounder that will never come to fruition because Timmy won’t play a game for the Isles this year. It was strictly a paper move, a salary dump to help the forever doggie-paddling Islanders make the salary floor and rid the Bruins of cap-gobbling money (earmarked for the trade deadline) that they didn’t actually have to pay due to Tank’s suspended status. It was a rather unceremonious and fanfare-free conclusion to a Thomas run that included perhaps the greatest season and post-season a goaltender ever put together. In less than two years, he went from being the latest New England folk hero alongside guys like Vinatieri and Ortiz to a principled recluse that walked away from a pre-lockout $5M that became a salary dump (and in doing so, it should be noted, guaranteed the #1 job to his wingman of three years and pal Tuukka). It was the latest “how did we get here?” moment in Boston sports. But it wasn’t anybody’s “fault”. It was just a guy who has always marched to the beat of his own drum deciding he wanted a breather from the grind of the previous four years so he left all that scratch on the table to do it (one long-ago teammate noted that “he’s always been unstable” after noting this). Most of us will never understand why a guy would fight so hard to reach the pinnacle only to walk away and fortunately, we don’t have to. Whatever feelings I had in the summer subsided. I’ll just remember Tim Thomas as the guy who stood on his head for two months to become the single biggest reason my favorite team in my favorite sport finally won it all in my post-natal life. For that, and those 16/1 odds, I’ll always be grateful for his time here. So on behalf of Bs fans, Timmy, thanks a bunch. We’ll always have Vancouver.
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