The Bruins, led by goalie Tim Thomas, meet the not so mighty Ducks on the ice tonight in Boston. The Ducks are in the middle of a seven game road trip.
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The Boston Bruins (17-10-4) ended their own misery by snapping a 3 game losing streak Saturday night but contributed to Washington’s downward spiral by extending their winless streak to 8 games by nipping the Caps 3-2, in front of the Boston faithful. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks (17-15-4) were getting outdueled in Carolina as they rallied late but ultimately bowed 4-2 to the Hurricanes. Monday night, the Bruins look to make it two in a row while the Ducks skate into Boston, desperate for a road win and a badly needed 2 points to maintain their playoff status.
The Bruins exploded for 3 goals in the 1st period against the Capitals Saturday night but then their guns fell silent and left it up to the stellar goaltending of Tim Thomas (if you’ve heard this one before, stop me) to stop the barrage that was the Capitals attack for much of the 2nd period and all of the third. Thomas was peppered relentlessly in the final stanza as he made 24 stops on 25 shots in the 3rd period alone and none bigger than a stone cold robbery of All-World MVP Alex Ovechkin with 10 seconds remaining. Thomas is becoming the most lovable thief in Boston and the Bruins league leading goals against average is evidence of it.
The Anaheim Ducks find themselves at 1-2 in the midst of their 7 game road trip when they meet the Bruins Monday night. Despite 45 shots on goal in their last game against Carolina, they could only find the back of the net twice as they were stymied by Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward and dropped a 4-2 decision. Prior to that game, they lost to the lowly New York Islanders 3-2 and are now looking at a modest losing streak that they hope to end in Boston.
While Boston relies on a suffocating defense and a goaltender in Tim Thomas who must have made some Faustian deal in his early thirties, as this one time journeyman goaltender has been unconscious, otherworldly or choose your superlative but whatever you call him, he’s been money for the B’s. Boston has recently gotten on track playing in front of the home crowd as well. They were faring much better on the road in the early part of the season but have warmed up to the home cooking as they have gone from a sub .500 club in their own building to a team that boasts an 8-5-3 mark in front of the friendlies at the Garden.
Although the Bruins have not put as many pucks in the net as the front office would have hoped, they are picking up the pace a bit and are now in the middle of the NHL pack, in that category. Yet, it’s their defense that has been turning heads this year and head coach Claude Julien lives and dies by keeping the other team away from his zone and his net. The truth be told however, is that his entire defensive philosophy would not look nearly as accomplished without Tim Thomas manning the net. His defense has been good, no doubt, but his goaltending has been exceptional.
The Ducks are a team that has more points than it appears they deserve. They rank 21st in goals against and 21st in goals scored. Their penalty killing unit is doing them no favors ranking 24th while their only vestige of success is their power play unit which is clicking at 20.6%, good for 9th in the NHL. Twenty five year old Corey Perry is leading the Ducks with 16 goals and 22 assists good for 38 points. Playmaking center Ryan Getzlaf is right behind him with 35 points but the team’s plus/minus is -13. Not a recipe for success when the team you’re playing is a +24. Then Ducks are floundering on the road with a 6-9-3 record, and if Boston plays their game Monday night, the Ducks will have their 10th road loss.
Play the Bruins and lay the lumber.