Bruins Pluck Thrashers for Ninth Consecutive Time

The Boston Bruins dominance over the Atlanta Thrashers is not quite yet at Harlem Globetrottters/Washington Generals proportions, but the Bruins defeated Atlanta 4-0 in their final game before the NHL’s Winter Classic against the Flyers on New Year’s Day for their ninth consecutive victory against the Thrashers.  But the Washington Generals did not have Ilya Kovalchuk, the Russian sniper who will be changing jerseys before the NHL trading deadline of March 3.  In his last 5+ seasons, Kovalchuk has 254 goals, 97 of them on the power-play.  Sounds like a couple of areas (goals…PP goals) the Bruins are sorely lacking in. Even if the Bruins need to part with Ellsbury and Buchholz, I say make the deal.  But neither Kovalchuk or any of his teammates emitted much power on this nite, as the Bruins put the Thrashers on the verge of extinction with three first period goals by Byron Bitz (4th), Marco Sturm (13th) and Steve Begin (3rd) for a commanding 3-0 lead at the end of the first.  The goal for Begin was his first in 30 games, a slump that was more than balanced out by Begin’s hard-nosed play game in and game out.  People were concerned about replacing Phil Kessel’s goals and P.J. Axelson’s defense this season, but there was also a void left with the departure of Stephane Yelle, whose veteran leadership made Boston’s fourth line last year (with Shawn Thornton and Bitz) arguably the best (Read: toughest to play against) in the league.  The same can be said this year with Begin in Yelle’s place, and his +2 rating (with only 12 points) on a team with the 4th fewest goals in the conference speaks volumes about his defensive play.

These three goals chased starting goalie Ondrej Pavelec (GAA of 13.00 in last 2 games at Garden) from the game for the second straight Wednesday nite at the TD Garden, and Johan Hedberg stepped in and kept it respectable by stopping 19 of 20 shots the remainder of the way.  Only a Patrice Bergeron second period shot beat him, but the Bruins could have easily won this game 8-0 if not for  Hedberg.  Andrew Ference thought he had his long-awaited first goal of the season on this play in the second period, but Hedberg came up with the save….and once again Ference gets the “Nelson Muntz treatment”:

Tuukka Rask was back in goal for the Bruins, and he earned his second shutout of the season with saves like this one in the third period.

Game Notes:

  • This was Atlanta’s sixth straight loss, and they have no PPG’s in their last three games.
  • This game also marked the first time this season that Atlanta has been shutout.
  • Is Kerry Fraser the real Benjamin Button?  This guy has been doing NHL games for as long as I can remember, and he still moves as well around the ice as any NHL official.

As the Bruins were shutting out the Thrashers 4-0, the Flyers were stomping the Rangers 6-0 – so both of these teams head into the Winter Classic playing some of their best hockey of the season.

Clarence’s Winter Classic posting will be soon….

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