The Boston Bruins are seventh place in the Eastern Conference as of right now by virtue of their 5-0 shellacking of the fading Calgary Flames today, while the Philadelphia Flyers got blown out on the road by cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 4-1 margin with some guy named Johan Backlund in net. Hey, Paul Holmgren- you look even worse than Peter Chiarelli for not addressing your team's needs on trade deadline day (at least Boston has the goaltending- more on that later)! Because the B's are now tied with the Flyers in points (80) but have a game-in-hand, they move into 7th, dropping Philly down to 8th.
Today was a big win for Boston after their tough loss to Tampa the other night, and it was nice to see Tim Thomas get it done with his 5th shutout of the season (17th of his career to move past Gilles Gilbert for sole possession of eigth place on Boston's all-time list), and first career win against the Flames.
Thomas and Tuukka Rask have both been Boston's saving (pun intended) grace this season, even though Rask has had the edge in play of late. Thomas certainly appears to be back on his game in just four starts since hockey resumed after the Olympics.
Five different goal scorers found the back of the net for the B's today: Dennis Seidenberg (his first as a Bruin and third of the year), David Krejci (16), Zdeno Chara (7), Patrice Bergeron (17) and Mark Recchi (17). Three of them came on the power play, the first three-goal game with the man advantage for Boston since December 22. Yes, it's been that kind of year offensively for them, so being in seventh place speaks volumes for the goaltending and how well those guys have played all season.
Recchi's prone high backhander over a sprawling Miikka Kiprusoff saw the end for the Calgary goalie, who, as was the case in Team USA's crushing of Finland in the Olympic semifinal, pulled himself from the nets. Recchi, who added an assist, amazes me with his desire and determination at age 42. He outworks and at time embarrasses guys 20 years his junior (are you listening, Blake Wheeler?) with his energy and willingness to do whatever it takes. Myopic fans who point to Recchi's presence on this team as a negative just don't get it. He was brought in for character, leadership and experience; for him to be closing in on what could be his 17th 20-goal campaign on a $1 million contract is what you call bang for the buck.
We're less than three hours from puck drop at the Air Canada Centre for Toronto's match against the New York Rangers. Again, it's a huge game for the draft watchers, but also for the Boston playoff standings watch as well. One way or the other- this game needs to end in regulation, and given Boston's 7th place standing, I'm going with a Rangers' decisive win as being the lesser of two evils tonight.
Other games for the tank tonight: Tampa @ Buffalo, Florida @ Ottawa, Islanders @ Blue Jackets (root for the Isles for a win in OT or shootout; they're closer to Toronto in the standings) and Atlanta @ Carolina.
OK- I'll be back later tonight with a tank recap, but today was a nice day for Boston fans, who saw a team that more closely resembled the 2008-09 B's.