…because they can’t win at home. Unless they face the #8 in the west, they won’t have home ice and therefore don’t have to worry about winning at home. I kid.
With the Bruins playing back to back games against two playoff bound teams, Bruins coach Claude Julien decided to go with Tim Thomas in the net tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. As Julien rationalized afterwards, “It had to do with his performance on Saturday. I think, number one, he was extremely good. Number two, when we looked at the schedule as a coaching staff, having a back-to-back game and the way Timmy played, we thought we’d have ourselves two fresh goaltenders on both nights.” Saturday’s performance against the Calgary Flames, Thomas played like the 2008/09 Vezina Trophy winner he was. Tonight, he reverted back to his less than stellar play that has been the trademark of his 2009/10 season.
It didn’t start all that bad for the B’s tonight. Just three minutes in, Marco Sturm was taken down on a breakaway earning a penalty shot against U.S. Olympic hero, Ryan Miller. On the penalty shot, Sturm came in fast and tried to go to Miller’s five-hole. Miller closed it down, stopped Sturm and kept the game scoreless. Boston kept up the pace and after David Krejci’s deft move around Miller, the Bruins had a 1-0 lead. Then, that was it. Buffalo withstood the Bruins initial onslaught and turned up the forecheck.
When the Sabres tied it up, there was a series of Bruin mistakes that led to the goal. First the combo of Mark Stuart and Dennis Wideman couldn’t get the puck moving out of the zone cleanly. Stuart’s pass up to Blake Wheeler was rushed and was half way up the boards and Wheeler missed the pass. Tyler Myers held the blueline and floated a wrist shot at the net. Enter Dennis Wideman. His 09/10 season can be considered officially a disaster. No matter what he does, this year it always seems to backfire. So as Myers shot floats to the net, Wideman stuck out his left arm as a feeble attempt to block the shot. All that did was deflect the puck past Thomas and tied the game.
Buffalo took the lead and this is where I got a chuckle because of the thought processes from the two different goalies. Once again, it was Tyler Myers on the rush. His wrist shot from the top of the faceoff circle was knocked down by Thomas right in front of the crease where Paul Gaustad flipped a backhander to the net that was deflected, once again, by Dennis Wideman past Thomas. Thomas didn’t answer questions tonight – it was more like he was snapping at the media. Understandably, after getting yanked for the sixth time this season you could see why he was upset. When asked about the second goal Thomas quipped, “The second one, actually, I put the rebound exactly where I wanted to. It was two Buffalo guys crashing the net and so I put it in the middle between the two of them and the black jerseys. They were coming back so hard that they overskated it, and a guy just whacked at it and then it hit something else and bounced over my pad.”
Here’s where perspective comes into play. When Ryan Miller was asked about that second goal he said, “I think if you asked him about the second one he would want to control the rebound differently.”
So the guy that gets pulled thinks leaving a rebound just past the crease is OK and the Olympic hero thinks he’d want to put it elsewhere. I never played in goal but I’m thinking leaving the puck in the slot isn’t the best place for the Bruins or any goaltender.
Thomas’s final dagger was enabled by a mistake by Dennis Seidenberg. Sides stepped up to make a hit at his blueline and that left Wideman alone on a two on one break into the Bruins defensive zone. Derek Roy fed Tim Kennedy and his shot went under Thomas’s pads and trickled into the net. Tim looked up to the rafters in frustration but that was it for his night. Thomas stopped ten of only thirteen shots he faced. Enter Tuukka Rask and things settled down.
With about five minutes left in the game, Tuukka Rask caught the Sabres on a bad line change. His outlet pass to Dennis Seidenberg at the red line sent the newest Bruin into the Sabre zone where his slapshot was mishandeled by Miller. The puck glanced off the glove and went over Miller’s head and into the net for the final tally of the night.
One thing I’ve held off on commenting on is the recent Andrew Ference contract extension. One word – Why? Why now? Ference has been a solid contributer in his time here but with Siedenberg a UFA and both Stuart and Boychuck RFA’s at seasons end I think to not be able to sign any one of those three because the injury prone Ference is locked up to a 3 year/$6.75 million dollar deal is unfathomable to me.
The Bruins are in route to New Jersey to face the Devils on Tuesday. It’s not getting any easier for them to clinch a playoff position. Tonight was one of those games the Bruins had in hand over Philly and Montreal and to see them blow it is very disappointing. There’s still that hope for the #6 seed to face these Sabres in the first round but they have to get their act together….now.
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Written by Jim Mulligan