A 6-0 loss in Buffalo Wednesday night might be the breaking point for this Bruins club. In a month where the trade deadline looms, the Bruins must pick up their play if they want to limit the probability of a major shakeup.
While no one expects General Manager Peter Chiarelli to make too big of a splash at this season’s trade deadline, one can’t rule anything out given the recent play of the struggling team.
Amidst the current slump continues the Tim Thomas saga, as his political stance on Facebook has once again stirred media questioning. Thomas, while continually posting his personal opinions on a public forum, is clearly sick of discussing the matter, and showed his frustration at practice on Thursday.
2/9/12 Practice Videos:
Coach Claude Julien
Today, the Bruins will face an unfamiliar opponent in the Nashville Predators, as two of the league’s best defensemen in Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber go head-to-head.
Starting in net for the Predators will be stud goaltender Pekka Rinne (30-12-5 with a 2.41 GAA). Thomas (22-10-0 with a 2.16 GAA), who thrives when doubted the most, will start in net for the Bruins in this must-win matinee.
At the pregame presser, coach Claude Julien discussed what the Bruins must do to overcome Nashville’s stout defense and goaltending:
“Well, goaltending’s good. Their Ds are pretty sound, too. When you’ve got Suter, Weber, even the other Ds are- I’ve had Bouillon before. They’re hard guys to play against, and we’re going to have to work for our goals, there’s no doubt about it, and we know that we’ve been challenged in that area lately, but I think, I feel that our team is ready for the challenge, and we’re going to make it happen. You’ve got to get your nose dirty, you’ve got to take pucks to the net whenever you can, and you’ve got to beat those guys back to the front of the net. You know, you’re battling in corners, and one thing you want to do it try to get in front of them and be there first. Goaltenders are goaltenders, they all give up a bounce on loose pucks, and we’ve got to be ready to pounce on those.”
Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly, and Rich Peverley had a great opening shift to start the game, but Rinne stoned them on multiple great saves. Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand followed up with a good shift of their own, but were also denied by the Finnish net-minder.
Midway through the first period it was the Bruins who got on the powerplay first; and while the puck-battle drills from Thursday’s practice seemed to help this team’s urgency, they continued to struggle jumping on loose pucks, and capitalizing on those vital chances.
A bench minor for the Bruins put the Predators on the man-advantage, but it was Boston who was able to strike first, scoring a shorthanded goal. Terrific speed and shiftiness allowed Marchand to enter the offensive zone, hold on to the puck, and make a beautiful drop-pass to Bergeron who roofed the puck for the goal.
The first period ended with the Bruins leading 1-0.
The Bruins dominated play early on in the second period. Each trio of forwards worked magically in the offensive zone, producing numerous chances, throwing anything and everything they could towards the Nashville net.
Unfortunately for the black and gold, Rinne continued his stellar play for the Predators, thwarting a majority of the Boston chances.
After a questionable roughing call went against Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid, Weber scored on an absolute rocket of a one-timer, taking the perfect feed from Suter at the point and blasting it past Thomas- the score was knotted at one after two periods of play.
Shortly after Boston took the lead on a Dan Paille goal, the Predators responded. Patric Hornqvist jammed home a loose puck after strong work by Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn; Rinne recorded an assist on the play, his second of the season, adding to an already stellar performance on the day.
Mike Fisher continued his strong play by taking the puck hard to the net, collecting his own rebound and backhanding it past Thomas. It hasn’t been the best day in net for Thomas, who was way out of position on the play by Fisher- the goal was assisted by Hornqvist and Bouillon, giving Nashville a 3-2 lead.
The Bruins then got a huge play when they needed it most. With the net empty, Peverley skated through the Nashville defense and whipped a wrist shot wide of Rinne; the puck bounced extremely hard off the boards right to Lucic, who roofed it past Rinne to tie the game in epic fashion. The goal came with just a minute left in regulation, ultimately sending the game into overtime.
Tyler Seguin first scored for the Bruins in the shootout, and Patrice Bergeron finished it off. Thomas stopped all Nashville forwards he faced. It was well-fought victory for the Bruins, who can hopefully build off this win and gain revenge against the New York Rangers on Valentines day.
From The Room: