It is safe to say that most people expected the Boston Bruins to split with the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague this past weekend. It is also safe to say that the Bruins met those expectations.
After a subpar effort against the ‘Yotes on Saturday, which resulted in a 5-2 loss, the Bruins returned yesterday to the O2 Arena with an impressive 3-0 shutout victory.
Here are a few notes on the Bruins weekend in Prague…
Nathan Horton’s Performance
It is safe to say that Horton was looking forward to being a member of the Black and Gold for the 2010-11 season. And so far he is on pace for 123 goals, which would shatter Wayne Gretzky’s record of 92 goals in the 1981-82 season.
Alright, that outrageous stat of 123 seems to be misleading a bit, but in the two games the ex Florida Panther has scored three goals, with two of the goals coming in Saturday’s loss. A season similar to Phil Kessel’s 2008-09 performance with the Bruins would easily help the Black and Gold’s fix on offense.
Say Again? Seguin scored his first NHL goal this weekend? As a matter of fact, he did.
Seguin took advantage of a beautiful feed from Michael Ryder — who had two assists this weekend — going in on a breakaway and slid one past Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to give the Bruins the 3-0 lead at 9:14 of the third period. Here’s the clip of Seguin’s impressive goal:
Seguin put in a solid performance this weekend for the Bruins. He didn’t seem like he was out of position — even in Saturday’s loss — and for the No. 2 pick that is just what the Bruins were looking for this weekend. Seguin’s first goal was just an added bonus for his debut weekend.
In regards to his performance on Sunday, and at least for the time being, Tim Thomas has proved his doubters wrong with a 29 save shutout on Sunday. Most of Thomas’ work came during the third period when Phoenix was in desperation mode as he made 13 saves during the final 20 minutes.
And, despite giving up three second period goals on Saturday, Thomas’ counterpart, Tuukka Rask, put in a solid performance as well with 42 saves. If it wasn’t for Tuukka’s saves on a couple of breakaways, which resulted from bad turnovers and Bruins defensemen being out of position, then the game could have been much worse. But, being that it was the first game, the Black and Gold rebounded quickly and minimized their mistakes the next day.
Bergeron and Chara Receive Contract Extensions
On Friday, the Bruins announced that the team had agreed to a contract extension with the longest tenured Bruin, Patrice Bergeron beginning for the 2011-12 season and ending in the 2013-14 season. The very next day, captain Zdeno Chara and the Bruins agreed to a seven-year extension, which will also begin next year and run until the 2017-18 season.
With these signings, the potential for an impressive unrestricted free agent field after this year has gotten thiner. With the likelihood of former Bruin Joe Thornton signing an extension in San Jose, one can expect the potential UFA field to get even more thinner. But that’s another story for later.
Of course Bergeron’s cap hit $5 million and Chara’s cap hit of over $6.9 million do not directly effect the Bruins salary cap situation this year. They already have over $49 million committed to the cap for next year and with Michael Ryder, Marco Sturm and Mark Stuart in the last year of their current deals (just to name a few), it is safe to assume that the Bruins will be in for a busy summer in 2011. For now though, the team has locked up two leaders for the foreseeable future.
A Positive Outlook?
Two years ago, the Penguins played their first two games in Stockholm to open up their 2008-09 Stanley Cup Winning season. Last year, the Blackhawks opened the season in Helsinki en route to their first Stanley Cup in nearly 50 years. So, could this trend benefit the Bruins in 2010-11?
While it is difficult to predict if we’ll see the Bruins in the Cup Finals in June, the team can look at it in a positive way as a great bonding experience. Often times, most teams would like to start away from their comfort of their own homes just to have that bonding experience. Some teams have had four or five game road trips to start the season, while others — as was the case with the Bruins last year — have had four or five games home stands to begin the year.
In any event, the Bruins trip to Prague is one they’ll remember, both on and off the ice.