Here are 15 thoughts after the third period with the Bruins bringing the thunder to the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 2-0 score after 60 minutes of action at TD Garden.
1) Bruins got better as the period went along there. Only four shots on net and not a lot of offense puck possession in the attack zone, but they also did a good job of limiting what Tampa Bay was trying to do. They’ll need to sustain it, but the game plan to play physical, grinding hockey against a team that played last night should pay dividends in the last two periods. But once again there was plenty of Swedish, and no Finnish for the Bruins.
2) Three hits and three shots attempted for Milan Lucic, who was playing with the bad attitude that everybody is looking for tonight. He blew up Keith Aulie with a hit that just preceded Andrew Ference’s fight with Benoit Pouliot, and then his line put together a strong, energetic shift right after the fight. If Lucic can sustain that kind of play then things will turn around for him.
3) Dougie Hamilton gets awarded the 7th Player. He’s had a solid rookie season… of that there’s no doubt. But both Daniel Paille and Anton Khudobin were robbed in exceeding expectations for this year, and probably could have used the new car a lot more than Dougie could have.
4) Andrew Ference doesn’t drop the gloves a lot, but he picks very timely moments to get into fights. It was a nice little emotional burst in the middle of the first period when he followed up a five star Lucic hit on Aulie with a heated bout against the former Bruin, Benoit Pouliot. It was Pouliot’s fourth career fight, and oddly enough he didn’t have a single bout during his time in Boston.
5) Five shots attempted for Richard Panik in 4:58 of ice time. I just wanted to write Richard Panik.
1) It’s official: Milan Lucic is having his best game in a couple of months. Four hits, three shots attempted and a severe beat-down of Keith Aulie when the 6-foot-6 defenseman took exception with the second big body check No. 17 laid on him in the corner. He’s skating and giving off the intimidating, physical style of play that’s made him so effective over the last couple of years. It’s so clear how much his teammates feed off him when he’s playing like this, and how much opponents hate playing the Bruins when he’s “on” like that.
2) Solid performance from the fourth line tonight what would have been my choice for 7th Player Award: Daniel Paille. The B’s fourth line winger teed off from the right face-off dot on a nice loss from Gregory Campbell, and helped push Boston to a 2-0 lead in the second period. Ten goals this season for Paille, who has been excellent all year.
3) Tuukka Rask was magnificent in the second period: 18 saves overall in the game and a couple of big ones while kick-saving a Benoit Pouliot partial breakaway and flashing a glove save on a Steve Stamkos wrister from the slot area. There isn’t a goalie in the NHL that could have played better than Rask did with nine saves in the middle 20 minutes.
4) So far, so good for Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in the first 40 minutes. They’ve held Tampa’s best players down and No. 44 kicked in a goal from the right point in the opening five minutes of the second period. They’ll need to be that good every night once the playoffs get going.
5) The Bruins are 41-19-3 in games with a fighting major over the last two seasons. That should bode well for tonight.
1) Tampa Bay power play was 0-for-3 on the evening and really didn’t generate any Grade A scoring chances on the man advantage. That’s a credit to the Bruins PK that really took away the Steve Stamkos one-timer from the face-off dot as a viable threat tonight. That’s no easy task.
2) More Tuukka Rask brilliance in the third period. The glove save on Marty St. Louis after a drop down pass from Teddy Purcell in the final five minutes had to have been a demoralizing stop for the Lightning.
3) Eight hits between Milan Lucic and David Krejci tonight. Do you think they were trying to make a point?
4) Good, solid game from Wade Redden, who really appears to be locking down a potential playoff spot that gives the Bruins the balance they’re looking for among lefty-righty shooting defensemen. One hit and a plus-1 in 16 plus minutes while skating with Adam McQuaid as the bottom defensemen pair. He even got a look at point on the power play in the third period.
5) Good building block win for the Bruins on Thursday night, but they need to keep pushing over the final two games to win the division and get the confidence really flowing headed into the playoffs.