With a rare Sunday night game at the Air Canada Centre that the Bruins won by a 5-2 score over the Toronto Maple Leafs, here’s another edition of hits and misses:
*Chad Johnson continues to provide great value for the Bruins as a backup goaltender that just keeps on winning games. Johnson made 30 saves in the win and improved 5-1 in six games with a 1.98 goals against average and .922 save percentage, and made a couple of very big stops on Phil Kessel in the second period after Kevan Miller potted the eventual game-winner for the Black and Gold. Any lingering questions about Johnson’s ability to step in for Tuukka Rask during back-to-back games, and other situations, have been completely answered at this point.
*Kevan Miller continued to show a real ability to handle a regular NHL workload by stepping in and playing 22:18 of ice time, scoring his first NHL goal that eventually became the game-winner and providing a physical presence with three registered hits and five blocked shots. He also generated six shot attempts offensively, and has really shown the ability to contribute at both ends of the ice. He was forced to leave the game in the third period when Dion Phaneuf clobbered him on a hit from behind into the corner, but Claude Julien said that Miller would be go to go Tuesday night against the Calgary Flames.
*Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci both contributed multiple point efforts and helped carry the offense with so many bodies out of the lineup due to injuries. Krejci’s game, in particular, was the best it’s been in a while with dominance in the offensive zone creating plays, and winning face-offs. Bergeron was his usually solid self, and has seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in his last six games. If the Bruins are going to survive their current stretch of adversity, it will be because their best players have risen to the challenge. Bergeron and Krejci both did that vs. the Leafs.
*Carl Soderberg factored into two goals and collected the first power play goal of his NHL while playing with rookies Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser. Soderberg was also to step in with Spooner struggles in the face-off circle, and won an offensive zone draw that led directly to Miller’s game-winning goal. It was a nice rebound effort from Soderberg after a couple of quiet games against the Canadiens the Penguins over the last few days.
*Torey Krug scored his eighth goal of the season and generated six shot attempts, and played nearly 18 minutes of ice time. The eight goals continues to keep pace with Ottawa Senators D-Man Erik Karlsson as the NHL’s top goal-scoring defenseman, and keeps him ranked about the league’s best offensive defenseman.
*Five shots on net and four hits for Jordan Caron in 14 minutes of ice time. He was a noticeable factor in the game, and that’s exactly the way he needs to play night in and night out.
*How in the world did the referees (Tim Peel, Dennis LaRue) miss Dion Phaneuf clobbering Kevan Miller from behind in the corner with a hit that’s not got a phone hearing with the Department of Player Safety? Between losing control Saturday night against the Penguins and missing the Phaneuf hit on Miller, the referees didn’t have a very good weekend in this reporter’s eyes.
*Jonathan Bernier let in a couple of soft goals and really looked like a liability between the pipes while letting in some long distance shots from the Bruins.
*Not a big miss at all, but quiet nights from Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser in their first games in big spots. Spooner had to be replaced by Carl Soderberg in the face-off circle, and neither player finished with a shot on net. It was kind of a whirlwind trip to Toronto for the two youngsters, so it’s more than acceptable if it takes them a game or two to find themselves.
*Eleven shot attempts generated by Phil Kessel, but he was also on the ice for two goals against and couldn’t get a puck past Chad Johnson in the second period when the Leafs had a really big chance to seize the game’s momentum.