The Bruins kicked off their litmus test California road trip last night in Orange County, paying a visit to the Anaheim Ducks (nee Mighty Ducks of Anaheim). The Bruins were looking to do what no other NHL team has been able to do thus far—beat the Ducks in regulation at home.
Instead, the quake country quackers put a 5-2 spanking on the Bs, thanks in large part to Jonas Hiller, their stellar netminder. It was the 12th straight win for Hiller, who turned back all 16 Bruins shots in the first period, including a highway robbery of Brad Marchand, to keep the road team from getting a lead and sitting on it defensively. In the second, it was the home team that would get the first lead.
Ever since the Bs lost Dennis Seidenberg to injury, their penalty killing has been woeful by giving up seven goals in 17 chances, “good” for a 59% kill rate. That’s awful for street hockey, let alone a Cup contender. And it proved to be their undoing last night when the Ducks potted two power play markers and then added a shortie (courtesy of a bad Reilly Smith pass) for good measure in the middle frame to stake their webbed feet to a 3-0 lead.
But the Bs, missing the bruising Milan Lucic due to illness, battled back, as they’re wont to do. Dan Paille cut the deficit to two goals with 16 seconds left in the second. Recent call-up Justin Florek earned his first NHL point with a nice pass to Paille for the primary assist. Dougie Hamilton’s seeing-eye snapper seven-and-change into the third brought the Bs within one but that would be as close as they’d get.
The Ducks tallied yet another power play goal then put a bow on it when Mathieu Perreault beat a tired-looking Tuukka Rask from far out to finish the scoring. Rask had a pretty rough night between the pipes, surrendering five goals on just 20 shots. No, he didn’t take penalties leading to Anaheim power plays but he also didn’t help stop the bleeding like we’ve been accustomed to seeing so much this season.
Though the 5-2 score implies a blowout, this was a one goal game with six minutes left. But giving up three power play goals in three chances while not doing anything with your three chances is going to end up a big ‘L’ 99.7% of the time because statistics. So kind of a shitty start to the Golden State tour to see how they stack up against the elite of the West.
They have a chance to grab two points tomorrow night in L.A. vs. the stingy Kings and their recently returned all-world goaltender Jonathan Quick. But that’s no easy feat at all. Oh, and don’t look now but Tampa Bay is breathing down Boston’s neck in the standings AND they’ll be adding Steven Stamkos to the team as he quickly heals his broken leg.
So, um, Peter Chiarelli, if you’re going to find a guy that does what Seidenberg does on the trade market (no easy feat whatsoever), you might wanna get cracking on that. It’s clear the D has suffered since the German got hurt and right now, the current make-up isn’t enough to cover the huge loss. That’s not a knock on the Bs corps but rather a testament to the stalwart Seidenberg.
A few more buds for your bowl…
*I’m curious to see if the league takes an extra gander at the apparent chicken wing that Greg Campbell threw Perreault’s way late in the game. Only one angle was offered on the clip I saw but it’s an atypical play by Soupy.
*Because of Lucic’s illness and Anaheim’s distance from Providence, the Bs dressed Kevan Miller and went with 11 forwards so Claude did his share of line-juggling all night long. Jordan Caron, whose Bruins career feels like it slowly grinding down as of late, was the scratch.
*Within a minute halfway through the first period, two huge hits were doled out, one from each team. And each team reacted as they should to a bruising but totally clean and legal bodycheck—they kept playing hockey both times. Neither squad sought alleged retribution for a perfectly fine, actually ideal, hockey play. Hopefully, this will be more common going forward.
*Have Ryan Getzlaf and Artie Bucco ever been seen in the same room together at the same time?
*Nice to see that Simpsons names are represented out West like they are in the East. We get to see McBain and Skinner every so often. But it’s not every day week get a (Ben) Lovejoy fix. And New Hampshire’s own, to boot. However, I won’t be satisfied until I see Nahasapeemapetilon on the back of Blackhawks jersey.
*When Disney sold the Anaheim franchise, the new owners had a golden opportunity to rebrand the team with a non-kids movie, non-corporate name. Instead, they decided to keep using the wussy bird moniker (though they dropped the ‘Mighty’).
*Very surprised that Team Canada left Marty St. Louis of its initial roster. He’s not some old, sympathetic vet looking for a last kick at the can—he’s still a premiere NHL forward, producing like a guy a decade younger, and deserved to be there. Also surprised Claude Giroux got the shaft.
*Non-Bruins Blog Item of the Week. Watched a damn good flick on HBO I had no idea was that good. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was one of the better coming-of-age movies I’ve seen in recent years. It was also the closest I’ve seen to a John Hughes film in eons (Hughes actually bought the book rights but passed away before he was able to make the movie). Avoiding cliches while mining some dark territory, “Perks” pulls off what most HS movies can’t—fan and critic praise. Christ, thanks to Emma Watson, it almost makes the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ look cool.