For the first time in what seems to be ages, the Bruins played a full 60 minutes of hockey tonight. With the hard charging Devils in town, the B's picked a perfect time to get things “right” and came away with a decisive 4-1 win.
With the Florida Panthers losing to Columbus last night, the B's clinched a playoff berth. Today's win over the Devils, clinched their first division title since the 2003/04 season.
The key to tonight's game, as it is in most games, was the special teams. The penalty kill, led be Marc Savard and P.J. Axelsson was a perfect 5-5 as the Devil power play was held to perimeter passes and long distance shots. The Bruins have allowed at least one power play goal in eight of their last eleven games, killing off 35 of 46 penalties (76.1%) over this span. The Bruins power play was 2-4 getting a pair of flukey deflections for two of their four goals.
The Bruins came out fast and outshot the Devils 14-11 in the first period. Their first goal was a PPG that Michael Ryder deflected a shot by Marc Recchi. Recchi came off of the wall a took a wrist shot that was deflected by Devil, Paul Martin, before Ryder's tip past Brodeur.
The second period started fast for Boston as Chuck Kobasew scored on a backhand wraparound just 1:52 in. Just four and a half minutes later it was Marc Savard's turn. Just a minute after Bobby Holik went to the box for a roughing call, the B's were in the Devil zone. Matt Hunwick's shot from the point was deflected by a Devil stick right to Savvy at the bottom of the faceoff circle. Savard made no mistake and ripped a wrist shot to the short side before Brodeur could react to the deflected shot for a 3-0 lead. Andy Greene's goal coming off a Devils rush cut the Bruin lead to 3-1 but that was as close as the visitors would get today. With two and a half minutes to go in the second, Milan Lucic scored the final goal of the game. With Stephan Yelle driving hard to the net, Lucic said he ”realized I had no play so I just did everything I could to get it on net and found a little hole between his legs and it's great to getthe monkey off my back and get another goal.”
The third period statistically was all Devils as they outshot the B's 17-3 to wrap up the game. Coach Julien did not appear to be upset, “New Jersey had 17 shots in the third. When you’re up 4-1, the other team’s going to throw everything at you. I think what we wanted to do was definitely make sure that we protected our lead, and I thought our guys did a great job five-on-five. When we got the puck, we got in their zone, we kept it deep, we didn’t throw pucks blindly, but at the same time, they had a couple of power plays, gave them some momentum…”
Things I noticed today that I haven't seen in a while.
1 – The breakout from the defense was very good. There was very little extra movements needed to get the puck moving.
2 – The B's defense kept most of New Jersey's attack out on the perimeter. Yes, they gave up 42 shots today and 17 in the third period but the majority of shots were long distance and no where near the slot. I remember one Brian Rolston shot the handcuffed Thomas in the third but outside of that, it seemed that there was never really a doubt.
3 – The B's best players were the B's best players. Savard, Thomas, Chara, Kessel & Lucic. All these guys played like the leaders that they are – or will be.
Tonight's Three Stars
1 – Tim Thomas stopped 41 of 42 shots on goal. His awareness in the crease was perfect as was his rebound control. This is the kind of effort that will be needed starting April 15
2 – Marc Savard. Just a fight short of a Gordie Howe hat trick. OK, I kid but his two points, going 11/18 in the dot and his work on the PK made him invaluable tonight.
3- Mark Stuart with an assist on the scoresheet. His physical play was solid tonight and he made no mistakes in any zone. Solid game from the blueliner and hopefully he can continue playing like he did today.
Next up – This is the Bruins “bye week” as the next game is a trip to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs on HNIC next Saturday night. The boys have tomorrow off and return to practice on Tuesday morning.
As always, you can reach me here by sending me an email at email@example.com
About the Author
Written by Jim Mulligan