The Bruins played their best game of the young season last night and downed the Ottawa Senators 4-2. To start, thanks to Hub Hockey for directing preview coverage our way and we graciously accept their heartfelt apology, it was easy to accept because we like them a whole bunch and know they didn’t really mean it, they just drink too much sometimes, and say things they don’t mean, but then they cuddle us close and the sweet smell of whiskey on their breath lulls us to sleep.
I caught most of the first and second periods, but I had some people over so I wasn’t paying full attention. Also, I drank a lot of gin last night, after everyone left I made a valiant attempt to give you all a drunken recap, but the screen was so goddamn bright and it most likely would have been terribly incoherent, so instead you’ll get what I thought of the parts of the game I saw and made up analysis about the rest.
The biggest positive so far in the season is the amount of goals the Bruins are scoring. Another four goal night is a great thing to see, and the defense was much tighter. The goal scoring is a direct result of the Bruins finally getting the message that, if you crash the net, good things will happen. The first goal was scored early in the first period on a Marco Sturm re-direct. If you watch the highlights you’ll see Sturm is set up right outside the crease as the play develops up near the blue line. Patrice Berergon lets a shot go and Sturm, who has been waiting on the door step the entire play, is able to re-direct into plenty of open net. Phil Kessel’s second goal came on the powerplay after a shot from the point. Both he and Marc Savard crashed the net hard following the shot and Kessel was able to pound it home. Kessel has a wicked release, as evident from his first goal of the night, but seeing guys like him and Savard crash the net just adds another element to the Bruins offensive. If they can keep it up the depth of the Bruins attack could become very hard to defend against.
I don’t think there is anyone in the league who sees the ice as well as Marc Savard. I am constantly amazed of how Savard is fully aware of where his team mates are on the ice. He’s come close to leading the league in assists for the past three years, while being on a offensively anemic team. A break out year from Phil Kessel or Michael “Bleach” Ryder, and you can bet Savard will finally lead the league.
Manny Fernandez was between the pipes last night and fared well, turning away 23 shots, although from what I saw, he wasn’t tested or shelled. He seemed kind of far out on the first goal, but said he wasn’t expecting a shot. You’re a goalie, wouldn’t your first thought always be “Someone is going to shoot a puck at me.” I don’t know if I can handle a year of Manny quotes. One thing we know about Tim Thomas is that he can shoulder getting 40 shots dumped on him, night in and night out, and still fare pretty well. I’m not sure how Manny will hold up against an onslaught of shots (the hope is he doesn’t have to). My dad also made a great point about Manny after watching last night’s game: he doesn’t look confident enough to come up with a huge game changing save. Despite being fundamentally sound, Manny doesn’t seem to have the same fire as Thomas, one that would allow him to come out and steal a game. All that being said, as much as we knock on Manny, the jury is still out for me; we haven’t really seen him play all that much, so who knows? Maybe he still is shaking off some rust and he’ll regain his confidence and competitive edge.
- Milan Lucic getting on the board in the third. Again, crashing the net.
- Mark Stuart is looking comfortable on the blue line, I never needed him to be stellar, I was just worried about him being a liability, but that doesn’t seem to be the case whatsoever.
- From the bits and pieces I saw of the game, the Bruins seemed to play much better in the neutral zone.
- The Bruins won 29 out of 49 face-offs, they also out hit the Sens 27-25.
- As Gabe said in the preview, the Sen’s have a nasty PP unit, so the penalty kill fared well only letting up only one goal, despite being short handed five times.
- Vladmir Sobotka had a solid game and made the most of the undisclosed injury to P.J. Axelsson.
- Aaron Ward appears to have shaken whatever it was that was making him play like shit and is back to being reliable.
The not so positives:
- Blake Wheeler didn’t have much of an impact last night, but it’s his fifth game, so I can cut him some slack. I’d like to see him play on a line with Lucic, the two of them could create a lot of open space on the ice.
- Taking five penalties against a team with such a killer power play is just unacceptable. The PK could use the practice, and played well, but it’s not often a team like the Sens will let you get away with being short handed five times and not make you pay dearly.
I didn’t expect the Sens to be great this year, but they looked pretty out of sync last night. The Sens have that dangerous first line, but after that, things tail off pretty quickly. For some reason I’ve never liked Martin Gerber that much, but Alex Auld is a serviceable back up. After the collapse last season, it looks like the Sens may be in for a long year if they can’t get motivated. Sens Army and Scarlett Ice give you the view from the other side of the border on last night’s game.
I had the pre-game on while I was making dinner, when from the living room I hear Jack Edwards start to explain how nuclear energy works. He really broke it down, step-by-step, and the proceeded to compare each piece of the nuclear energy process to the Sen’s top line of Heatly-Spezza-Alferdsson. I am not even going to attempt to quote or recount Edwards explanation, as I could never do the hilarity of it justice. I can’t find any video of it, my hope is that Gabe DVR’ed the game and we can get a direct transcription of it up sometime soon. (I didn’t. I was drunk too. -G)
Overall it was a good road stint for the Bruins picking up five out of a possible eight points. Of course plenty of areas to improve on, but they showed they can score goals, mount a comeback, and win the ugly game when necessary. They are also improving which each game played, and I would not be surprised to see a barn burner tomorrow night at the home opener. There will be a full preview of the festivities and game tomorrow, but we should be down around the Garden drinking at the Harp or Sullivan’s around 4 or 4:30. We’ll be wearing Bruins jersey’s (Gabe in the away white and me in the sad golden bear third). Make sure to give a hearty hello and feel free to buy us a drink.