'Hits & Misses' in Bruins 2-1 win over Rangers

'Hits & Misses' in Bruins 2-1 win over Rangers
November 20, 2013, 2:15 am
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The Bruins pulled out a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden to win two out of three games on the road trip. Here are a few hits and misses with the Bruins getting a well-deserved rest on Wednesday upon returning home to Boston.

Hits

*Got to love Tuukka Rask leading the way with accountability, and the intestinal fortitude to back it up with on-ice performance. The Bruins goaltender blamed himself for a couple of soft goals in the third period meltdown against the Ottawa Senators on Friday night, and responded by stopping 68-of-70 shots in wins over the Hurricanes and Rangers in back-to-back nights. The Bruins goaltender absolutely stole Tuesday’s win against the Rangers in a game that the rest of Boston’s roster – aside from the fourth line and Zdeno Chara – was dragged kicked and screaming through a game where they were outshot by a 44-22 margin. Rask has been great all season, so a brilliant performance against Henrik Lundqvist in the arena where he last performed a “butt stumble” during Game 4 of last year’s playoffs was a nice show of the Finn’s backbone. He is having some kind of special year.
 
*The B’s fourth line combined for four goals in the five playoff games against the Rangers last spring, and chalked up another two goals to supply all of the offense for the Black and Gold. Shawn Thornton’s score was pure and simple snipe city with a top shelf over Henrik Lundqvist’s glove hand, and makes his last two goals scores against the last two Vezina Trophy winners in King Henrik and Sergei Bobrovsky. Daniel Paille’s shorthanded strike was a nice communication play between Gregory Campbell and his fourth line winger, and a sweet backhanded shovel through the five hole to finish off the breakaway.
 
*The Buffalo Sabres have been given permission to speak with B’s assistant general manager Jim Benning about the open GM position with the Sabres, and it’s a well-deserved honor for a good hockey man. Benning has a keen eye for talent and has been a vital part of Boston’s success since he came over to the Bruins in 2006, and would be the right guy for the job in Buffalo. It would be a loss for the Bruins, to be sure, but Benning has earned his chance to run his own organization after paying his dues in the hockey talent evaluation world over the last 20 years.

*Zdeno Chara had to step up with Dennis Seidenberg done for the night after one shift, and he played a season-high 31:27 of ice time while throwing out five hits, blocking three shots and breaking up a number of scoring chances for the Rangers. While the B’s captain stepped up in a big way when he was needed, the team had better hope they don’t need to ask those kind of Herculean performances from him on many occasions this year. Otherwise Big Zee won’t have anything in the gas tank when it matters most in the playoffs. Chara’s minutes of ice time per game are up two minutes from October to November, and that’s not a trend the B’s want to continue.

*Credit Matt Bartkowski for gritting his through a banged up left knee to still play over 21 minutes in the victory. The 25-year-old defensemen spent most of the second period standing at the bench in pain after he was hit from behind into the side boards by Ryan Callahan, but still managed to finish out strongly in the final period while leaving it as five functional D-men for Boston once Dennis Seidenberg went down. It’s not surprising because Bartkowski is a tough kid, but it was definitely a factor in victory.

Misses

*Brad Marchand continues to struggle to find his game, and the line between effectiveness and being out-of-control. He made a nice play helping Shawn Thornton start his scoring rush on the right wing, and then set the B’s enforcer up for the shot by driving hard to the net. But he also couldn’t muster even a single shot on net, and took a poor cross-checking penalty in the opening minutes of the third period when the Bruins could least afford it. Just when you think Marchand is starting to find his game, he seems to slide back a little bit. It wouldn’t shock to see him sitting up in the press box sooner rather than later if this continues.

*Dennis Seidenberg left with after one shift and 1:01 of ice time with a lower body injury, and his status is very much up in the air for Thursday. Adam McQuaid skated the last couple of days on his own, but is also very much doubtful for Thursday’s game vs. the St. Louis Blues. So that means the Bruins might have to dig into their defensemen depth in Providence, but both Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman are also injured right now for their AHL farm club. That means it could be up to Kevan Miller, Tommy Cross, Mike Moore or David Warsofsky to fill in for the spot opened up because of injury with Miller, Moore or Cross more likely given their heavy games and abilities in the defensive zone. The Bruins lose a lot of their defensive might when both Seidenberg and McQuaid are out of the lineup.

*Very quiet night for the David Krejci line, who combined for only four shots on net and saw the B’s center lose 10-of-14 face-offs in the win. After never going more than  a single game without scoring to start the season, Krejci went scoreless on the entire road trip after getting his bell rung when Brandon Dubinsky rammed his head into the boards in Boston’s final win over the Blue Jackets on their last homestand. Krejci just hasn’t looked “right” over the last three games.