Last night the Bruins got some revenge against the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup on Boston ice last season. It wasn’t full revenge as it was only a regular season game, but it sure felt great, especially when you consider the fact that it’s a new season and a new and truly great Bruins team that has a ton of promise. With this win, they have now clinched the top seed in the Atlantic Division. It being their 50th win of the season, the Bruins franchise now has their 9th season with 50+ wins.
To be honest, I was a bit worried for about the first half of the first period. The Blackhawks came out firing, spending most of the first 10 minutes in their offensive zone getting good chances. At the same time, whenever the Bruins were able to break away and get a chance, they were just slightly off, barely missing passes that probably would’ve led to goals. But then Matt Bartkowski shot it from the blue line and Patrice Bergeron tipped it past Corey Crawford for a goal. I now felt a huge burden had been lifted. Even though this game wasn’t that important for us, I wanted to get some revenge on the Blackhawks so badly. With a one goal lead against a pretty evenly matched team and with the Bruins being so great defensively, I felt much better at that point. The score didn’t change for another 35 minutes of play. There was a lot of back-and-forth, but the Bruins slowly started to take over the game.
About five minutes into the third period, the Bruins were going to work in the offensive zone. Johnny Boychuk took a shot from the blue line, then Carl Soderberg quickly shot it past Crawford’s glove to score. Soderberg keeps looking better and better. They continued to make good plays and 13 seconds later, Bergeron scored again to pretty much seal the deal! He has really been on fire. He scored two goals in this game, six in the last five games, has 25 for the season (2nd on the team), and has a +/- rating of +38 for the season!
Another highlight was rookie defenseman Kevan Miller, who made some great defensive plays and decisions and has been a wonderful surprise this season.. much like Reilly Smith has been the highlight of the trade that brought him and Loui Eriksson here and sent Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars. Everyone thought Eriksson was going to be the bigger producer of the two but Smith has really stepped up. He is 5th on the team in points (47) and goals (19). Still, Eriksson has shown much improvement lately. He too made some great plays and has really become the two-way player everyone expected.. like a Patrice Bergeron #2. Carl Soderberg has really grown this season as well. He has made the transition from the European style hockey he used to play in the Swedish Elite League to the NHL, where skill is important, but so is being tough.
Goalie Tuukka Rask had another great game, earning his 33rd win in his 53rd start of the season, both career-highs, stopping all 28 shots against him. He is STILL the league leader in shutouts with seven after this game. He also leads all starting goalies in goals against average with a 2.01 and in save percentage with a .931. He is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this year.
Chicago hasn’t been shutout twice in a row in three years. Interestingly, the last time it happened, the Bruins were the first to shut them out, followed by the Tampa Bay Lightning.. and those two teams later met in an epic Eastern Conference finals that went to overtime in Game 7. The Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Bruins are 13-0-1 (no regulation losses) in their last 14 games and have only one regulation loss in their last 20 games, which is about a quarter of a season! They still lead the Eastern Conference, nine points ahead of the second place Penguins, who have lost three in a row. In their Atlantic Division, they are 15 points ahead of the second place Habs, who only have seven games left. So even if they win them all and we lose every game that we have left, they would still be a point behind us. The Bruins are also only one point behind the St. Louis Blues for the league lead.
If the team continues on this path, they have a pretty good chance of winning the Presidents’ Trophy for most points in the league, with their only real competition being the Blues. If they don’t get, they will still likely be the top seed in the Eastern Conference. The way this team has come together, especially recently, I expect they will go to the Stanley Cup Finals again. At this point, I would consider it a disappointment if they didn’t. If they do, they should have an even better chance of winning it than they did last year or even in 2011 when they won it. This team looks great all around! Keep it goin’ guys!
Here’s a video of highlights from the game:
Here’s a closer look at Patrice Bergeron’s game-winning tip-in goal:
Thanks for reading,