The Devils wore their old-school Yuletide jerseys last night in Newark versus the Bruins. Perhaps it was a ploy to summon ghosts of hockey past so that Marty Brodeur could dial back the clock for a night. Despite being 60th in save percentage, 42nd in goals against, and so very clearly beyond his heyday, New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer has given him 34 of the team’s 69 starts instead of using Cory Schneider more (after all, why did you acquire Schneider?). And while he looked good in the first period, he once again wasn’t the Marty of old, as he gave up goals on shots he used to stop in his sleep.
The result was a 4-2 Bruins win to give them their 10th straight. For the second straight night, the Bs got goals from each of their top three lines, points from 11 of their 19 players, and they once again played solid, workmanlike hockey to win a game they should win (I don’t buy this “peaking too early” bullshit—they’re simply winning games they should). Patrice Bergeron (20), Brad Marchand (22), Jarome Iginla (26), and Chris Kelly (8) were the goal-scorers and Chad Johnson stopped 22 out of 24 shots for another solid win (he was huge for puck line bettors in the last couple minutes when the Bs barely sniffed an ENG).
The win gives the Bs 99 points and they control their own fate regarding finishing first in the Wales. They lead the Habs by 16 points in the Atlantic with a game in hand and have a five point bulge on Pittsburgh for tops in the conference (Pens have a game in hand). They have an odd two-game road trip that takes them to Denver on Friday night (hey, something to watch on a Friday night!) and Glendale on Saturday to face the Coyotes before heading home to take on the Habs Monday at the Garden.
A few more buds for your bowl…
*Iginla’s goal was the 556th of his career, which ties him with the Chief, Johnny Bucyk, for 25th on the all-time goal-scoring list. Enjoy the hell out of him while he’s here, Bruins fans. He’s a special player.
*Bruins backers have been making a bundle thanks to this latest run. Not only have they won 10 in a row, 8 of the 10 wins came by two goals or more to cover the -1.5 puck line, which brings back a much higher return than your standard money line wager. Still, hockey bettors are few and far between (hockey accounts for about 2% of sports book action) so local shops aren’t getting hit bad.
*Friggin’ Jaromir Jagr, man. 42-years-old and he leads the Devils in scoring. He’s got 22-37–59 in 69 games on a Devils team whose playoff hopes got even slimmer last night. He also had this to say: “He’s a very underrated player. In my opinion, probably the most underrated player in the league”. The guy he was talking about? Milan Lucic.
*Speaking of Looch, he and Ryane Clowe had a nice scrap.
*Belated congrats to Claude on his 300th win as a Bruins coach. He now trails only Art Ross for wins by a Bruins coach. Pretty impressive stuff for a guy who not many were expecting much out of, myself included, given the reputation that preceded him. But Claude just kept his head down, ignored the noise, and kept working. Now he’s one of the most safely ensconced coaches in the league and, when all is said and done, will be on the short list for best coach in Bruins history. Let that sink in. And he’s done it all with class, integrity, and humility (and a dash of luck). He’s someone this team and this city should be proud of because of the way he carries himself and his team carries itself.
*I didn’t care much for the Devils Christmas sweaters back in the day, likely because I didn’t care much for the Devils either. But I gotta say, they look pretty goddamn sharp now, especially in HD. But like every suburban white kid in the ’90s, they added black to their repertoire. And now we only get the red-and-green sweaters a few times a year.
*Back in the fall, I was (wrongly) among those chiseling epitaphs for the Flyers season after their horrific start. But Claude Giroux, another guy who got dissed by Stevie Y for the Olympics, has been on a tear and led his team back into the thick of the playoff race. But the Flyers still aren’t built for the playoff long haul with a Mason/Emery combo.
*Carl Soderberg remains on a tear as his sweet pass set up Kelly’s goal, giving him his 28th assist. Claude moving him to his natural center position hasn’t hampered his game one bit. Rather, he seems to be relishing the bigger role. Along with Loui Eriksson and Kelly, the third line has been a legit scoring scoring threat as well as having three defensively responsible guys. The Big Swede has come a long way since he arrived in Boston last April and keeps getting better. He’s one of the best bargains in the league at $1M per annum and the Bs will get him for another season at that price. It may have taken quite awhile but Bs have convincingly won the Hannu Toivonen trade.
*Corey Potter, the defenseman who was picked up on waivers from Edmonton prior to the trade deadline, made his Bruins debut last night. He played 15:09 and blended in fine. When you’re putting depth D-men in the line-up, barely noticing them often means that they did their job. Matt Bartkowski was the scratch on D and Jordan Caron was the scratch up front.
*Shawn Thornton will be holding his 7th annual Cuts for a Cause a week from today at the Park Plaza. Fans bid for the honor of shaving their favorite Bruin’s head to raise money for kids battling that big asshole—cancer. GA tickets can also be purchased for $30 to support a good cause at a good time and you can also gets pics/autographs with/from your favorite players. Click here for more info.
*Non-Bruins Blog Item of the Week. I was able to catch up on some Oscar bait in the last few weeks to see what deserved praise and what didn’t. Here’s a few of the good ones. I really dug “Nebraska”, Alexander Payne’s black-and-white father-and-son Midwestern road trip comedy/drama that touches on various themes (aging, parents, bullying). Will Forte was a great call but June Squibb and Bruce Dern stole the show as an aging, cantankerous couple that drives their adult children crazy. A-. “Twelve Years A Slave” is like watching a real-life horror movie. It’s a true story about a free man who is kidnapped and forced into slavery with no recourse (or, more accurately, no access to recourse). Some genuinely horrifying but important scenes that need to be seen to help convey the ugly horror that was slavery. Unreal acting. To think this shit was less than 200 years ago makes one shudder. A-. “Rush” was the most fun Ron Howard has given us in years in this tale about two ’70s F1 drivers and the rivalry that pushed them. Some great car racing scenes, entertaining flick. B+.