Archive for tuukka rask

Bruins are Road Scholars

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , , , , , on November 27, 2009 by clarencethehorse

Four road games. Four wins. Eight points.  Sure, it took three OT periods and 2 shootouts, but the Bruins prevailed each game and may have finally shaken off the last of the cobwebs  that had impeded their forward progress so far this season.  In defeating St. Louis 4-2 this past Monday, then going into Minnesota on Wednesday and winning 2-1 in a shootout, the Bruins are currently positioned fifth in the conference (12-8-4, 28 pts) and are only a point out of first in the Northeast division.  The only negative was the injury suffered by winger Milan Lucic in the Minnesota game, and as I write this, the Bruins are preparing to hold a press conference to discuss his condition/prognosis.  Fingers crossed, more to come….

Marc Savard, who had not played since October 17th, returned from a broken foot in the  St. Louis game, and for the second straight game Milan Lucic set the tone in the opening moments with a jarring hit on the Blues’ Barret Jackman.  Tuukka Rask was back between the pipes, and made a great save six minutes into the first to keep the game scoreless.  Mark Recchi then gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead when he batted this puck out of mid-air for a power-play goal.  After St. Louis tied the game, Blake Wheeler scored his sixth of the season on a power play early in the second for a 2-1 B’s lead.  Milan Lucic would break another tie and give the Bruins a 3-2 lead when he tipped home a Zdeno Chara shot from the point at 12:10 of the second period.  St. Louis goalie Chris Mason made the save of the game with 3:51 remaining in the second period to keep St. Louis within a goal. Patrice Bergeron made a nifty steal deep in the St. Louis end and set up Marco Sturm for a shorthanded goal in the third period to ensure a 4-2 win for the Bruins, and also the first three-game winning streak of the season for Boston.

The re-emergence of Patrice Bergeron as an elite two-way player is a truly gratifying sight for Bruins fans; in this game, Bergeron assisted on all four Bruins goals.  This 4-assist game comes on the heels of his game-winning shootout goal against Atlanta, then his game-winning OT goal against Buffalo.  Even with Savard back, it is becoming apparent that Bergeron may be just as valuable a piece of the offensive puzzle for this year’s Bruins team.  Anyone who remembers the events of October 27, 2007, when Bergeron was viciously boarded by the Flyers Randy Jones, can attest that Bergeron’s comeback should make him the early frontrunner for this season’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Two nights later, the Bruins headed into the Wild  game knowing that in their previous nine meetings with Minnesota, they had escaped with only one win.  Tuukka Rask was again in net  (I love his mask), and the Bruins Byron Bitz gave him a 1-0 lead when he tipped home a Derek Morris shot from the point.  Andrew Ebbett tied the game for Minnesota with a power-play goal in the second, and Rask helped himself with this spectacular save in the third off the Wild’s Cal Clutterbuck….my new favorite hockey name, btw.  It was a typical tightly played, defense-dominated game against the Wild, and regulation ended with the teams knotted at one goal each.  Tuukka Rask was at his best for the Bruins in the waning minutes of regulation and in the five-minute OT period, and at this time (backup?) goalie Tim Thomas is in no danger of being ‘rushed back’ from whatever upper-body injury  currently ails him. In the shootout, Bergeron scored for the Bruins first, and then David Krejci scored the deciding shootout goal as Rask stopped 3-out-of-4 Wild shooters for a 2-1 Bruins shootout victory.

MILAN LUCIC UPDATE: He has a left high-ankle sprain and will be lost up to four weeks.  Bad, but could be worse (check out the video):

The Bruins have their first four-game winning streak of the season, and return home today to face the New Jersey Devils (9-2-1 road record) for their annual day-after-Thanksgiving Black Friday noon matinee.  We’ll see if “Tuukka time” continues, and more importantly, if the Bruins solid overall team play continues.

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Bruins Solid in Consecutive Road Wins

Posted in Boston Bruins, Hockey with tags , , , on November 22, 2009 by clarencethehorse

The Bruins took a significant step toward righting their heavily listing ship  with road wins against Atlanta and Buffalo on consecutive nights (Nov. 19 – 20).  Was the return of rugged winger Milan Lucic the sole reason?  No.  But his presence in the lineup really does seem to inject this Bruins team with some sort of  B-12 shot.  With Lucic back, Marc Savard’s return imminent (possibly Monday night in St. Louis), and the impressive play of backup(?) goalie Tuukka Rask (started and won in net for both games), there is reason to believe the Bruins team of last season is finally rousing  from an extended summer hibernation.

Against Atlanta, the Bruins came out strong and built a 2-0 lead after the first period on goals by Marco Sturm and Michael Ryder.  Nik Antropov and Ilya Kovalchuk (power play goal) scored to get Atlanta back tied at 2-2, but the B’s got a power play goal of their own from Michael Ryder, his second of the night, with 3:15 remaining in the second period to give the Bruins the lead again at 3-2.  Ryder appears ready to go on one of his goal-scoring  streaks, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Bruins recently floundering offense.  Rask was also sharp, and this save during an Atlanta power play in the third period was one of his best.  In the third period, the Bruins took five minor penalties, and the inevitable happened with 41.4 seconds remaining, as the Thrashers pulled their goalie for the extra man and Maxim Afinogenov tied the game at three against an exhausted Bruins team.  But the Bruins prevailed in the shootout, as Rask stopped all three of the Atlanta shooters, and Patrice Bergeron scored on a nifty deke, and the Bruins had the road win.  Bergeron  continues to round back towards his pre-concussion form, and has arguably been the Bruins best player this season on both ends of the ice.

The next night in Buffalo, Rask was back between the pipes for the injured Tim Thomas, and Milan Lucic made sure that the Sabres knew the Bruins meant business with this jarring hit on Henrik Tallinder just 29 seconds into the game. Lucic also got his first goal of the season on a beautifully executed 2-on-1 with Byron Bitz, which tied the game at one in the second period.  Goaltending ruled the third period, and this game would go to overtime.  It was just 47 seconds into OT that Patrice Bergeron deftly tipped in Zdeno Chara’s shot from the blue line to give the Bruins the 2-1 win, and another two points.  It was Bergeron’s second game-winning goal in 24 hours, and the back to back wins vaulted the Bruins into sole possession of 7th place in the Eastern Conference, and only two points behind Buffalo for the Northeast division lead.

Will the Bruins be able to continue their road success in St. Louis on Monday and Minnesota on Wednesday?  With the pieces falling slowly back into place, Clarence  is cautiously optimistic.