Hits and Misses: Bruins-Sharks

Hits and Misses: Bruins-Sharks
January 12, 2014, 2:45 am
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Here are the “hits” and “misses” from the Bruins' much-needed 1-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks in a heavy, tight-checking game at the SAP Center.
*Tuukka Rask bounced back from a subpar stretch with a 26-save shutout win against the Sharks, and played behind a Bruins defense that did a much better job of supporting the goaltender. It was Rask’s NHL-best fifth shutout of the season, and gave the Bruins a roadmap of exactly how they should be playing while missing some of their best personnel on defense.
*Ryan Spooner collected his 10th assist in 18 games on the game-winning goal for Carl Soderberg, and acquitted himself well as third line center in a heavy, tight-checking playoff style game where all players had to battle for every inch on the ice. Spooner set up the goal by using his speed and smarts to get the puck deep in the San Jose zone, and then battled for the puck before getting it to Loui Eriksson in the slot. That set things into motion for Soderberg’s goal, and continued to show that Spooner can hack it when things tighten up closer to the playoffs.
*The hot-and-cold Carl Soderberg played like he was 6-foot-3 and 220-pounds in a game where his size and strength was needed, and generated a team-high seven shot attempts with one of them the game-winning goal. The Big Swede, Loui Eriksson and Spooner really form a potent offensive option as a third line, and it will be interesting to see where things can go with that trio if they’re allowed to stay together. Spooner’s speed compliments the smarts and size of Soderberg and Eriksson nicely, and forces them to play at a bit higher tempo as well.
*Kevan Miller had four shot attempts, three registered hits, a pair of blocked shots and his first NHL fight in 18:21 of ice time in Saturday’s win over the Sharks. Miller was another rookie that looked anything but in over his head in a big game against San Jose, and continues to show that he’s an NHL caliber defenseman. The fight with an experienced middleweight in Mike Brown was impressive: Miller caught him with a couple of big right-handed punches before he scored the takedown. At one point in the second period Miller just throw Andrew Desjardins off the puck, and then cleared it right out of the B’s zone leading to an extended offensive possession. That is Bruins-style hockey.
*Loui Eriksson assisted on the game-winning goal in 13:18 of ice time, killed penalties and had a couple of takeaways in a quietly effective game for the Swedish winger. He figures to just keep getting better and better, and did a good job of keeping himself out of vulnerable positions on the ice.
*A gritty game for Matt Bartkowski, who was throwing his body in front of the net late in the third period to block anything thrown close to the cage by the Sharks skaters. The Bruins need more of that sacrifice from their defensemen with a warrior like Dennis Seidenberg out of the lineup, and they’re getting it.
*The Bruins are only the second team this season to defeat the San Jose Sharks at the Shark Tank, and join the Vancouver Canucks in that rarified NHL distinction. It’s worth nothing that they’re the only Eastern Conference team to accomplish that feat.
*A solid defensive game for Adam McQuaid, who played 21:02 of ice time, and performed well as Zdeno Chara’s partner on the penalty kill while stepping in for Johnny Boychuk.
*Milan Lucic finished the California road trip with exactly one shot on net, and wasn’t much of a factor in any of the games. He did have a food poisoning-type illness early on that caused him to miss the Tuesday night game vs. the Ducks, so that obviously has to be factored in.
*Patrice Bergeron won only 33-of-72 face-offs in the three games vs. the California teams, and clearly didn’t have a very strong book on the Western Conference centers he was drawing against. The subpar face-off numbers are very unlike No. 37, and won only 11-of-27 face-offs vs. the Sharks on Saturday night.
*No shots on net and 5-of-12 face-offs in 17:12 of ice time for Jumbo Joe Thornton in a completely invisible game for Jumbo Joe. Those are exactly the kind of games that frustrated Bruins fans when he was in Boston.