Now, if you have designs on a National Hockey League playoff spot, there is no way you should lose five of eight games to the worst team in your division.
The Bruins’ 29-26-4 record may belie their lowly status, but they are a well-deserved 12th in the Eastern Conference, even if it is now only four points behind the Leafs.
They are also the most boring hockey team on the planet. (That may just be a slight exaggeration from a tortured soul who has had to watch them trap their way through eight games that were bunched in streaks through the schedule since early November, so it seemed you were watching them dump the puck from one end to the other every night.)
Maybe the Maple Leafs succumbed Tuesday night to the ennui the Bruins inspire in anyone who watches them. It was one of those games where absolutely nothing happened but somehow the Bruins took a 3-0 lead into the third period.Hmmmm.
Considering the Bruins beat the Leafs five out of eight times this season, now employ the fourth best points getter in the league, Marc Savard
, and are a team whose top goal scorer, Glen Murray, has two more goals than the closest Toronto skater, I am not sure if boring fits the bill -- especially in comparison to the Leafs.
Our Boys may be confusing and frustrating at times, fun and spectacular at others, but the Black & Gold are NOT boring.
Carefully consider the following:Boston stat leaders:Stat, Player,Total
Points, Savard - 77
Goals, Murray - 27
Assists, Savard - 57 Goalie, GP, W-L-OTL, GAA, SV%
Thomas, 50, 26-18-3, 3.07, .907Toronto stat leaders:Stat, Player Total
Points, Sundin - 55
Goals, Sundin - 25
Assists, Kaberle - 38 Goalie, GP, W-L-OTL, GAA, SV%
Raycroft, 51, 27-18-6, 2.92, .898
Also consider the heroes of last nights team win by Boston:Stan Chistov, who had not scored in some time.
Defensive forward extraordinaire (and Olympic gold medal winner) P.J. Axelsson, who jumped off the bench after being injured and fired a laser past Raycroft.
Grizzled veteran Jason York, who had not scored a goal since 2004.
All of those lead to nice, exciting stories.
And, again, those stories are not boring.
Furthermore, at one end of the ice stands the 32 year old recently established full-time NHLer who is quickly becoming a folk hero in and around Route 495 (similar to a goalie in his 30’s who led Toronto to glory back in the 1960’s) and may yet lead this frenetic squad to the playoffs.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, meet Toronto great Johnny Bower.
As we all know, "Tank" Thomas is anything but boring.
One final item to consider:
Team, GP, W-L-OTL, Pts
1. Buffalo, 60, 40-15-5, 85
2. Ottawa, 60, 35-22-3, 73
3. Montreal, 62, 31-25-6, 68
4. Toronto, 60, 29-23-8, 66
5. Boston, 59, 29-26-4, 62
Eastern Conference Standings
Place, Team, GP, Pts.
1. * Buffalo, 60,85
2. * New Jersey, 60, 80
3. * Tampa Bay, 61, 71
4. Pittsburgh, 59, 73
5. Ottawa, 60, 73
6. Atlanta, 62, 71
7. Montreal, 62, 68
8. Carolina, 62, 67
9. Islanders, 60, 66
10. Toronto, 60, 66
11. Rangers, 60, 63
12. Boston, 59, 62
13. Florida, 61, 58
14. Washington, 60, 55
15. Philadelphia, 60, 40
* Denotes division leaders
You’ll notice that the Bruins, the "worst" team in the division according to Mr. Shoalts, and the Leafs both have 29 wins, and the B’s have played one less game.
Also notice that there are 7 teams within 10 points of each other with (in most cases) twenty games to play.
Now, I am just a lowly blogger, and I do work for the Bruins, so I am (very, very) biased, but I am not sure that the B’s are any less or more boring than their opponents on Tuesday evening, or any evening during the season, for that matter.
And with the playoff race coming down to the wire, right now, Bruins hockey, as well as Leafs, Habs, Sens, and Buffalo hockey, is simply a must-see.
Just a thought…
My own thoughts on last night’s game, besides wishing that the B’s would suddenly score seven goals a night so I could get an earlier start on my stories and be able to lay of the pink bismuth, was more along the lines of what Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun wrote this morning:
Warning to the Maple Leafs: Don’t feed the bears at this time of year.
Not with so many starving animals roaming around the Eastern Conference playoff picnic table. You can certainly count the Boston Bruins back in the hunt, after last night’s 3-0 win over mistake-prone Toronto, which was 0-for-6 on the power play.
The B’s scattered the home camp with a mighty roar -- 44 saves by Tim Thomas, three goals on 13 shots to chase Andrew Raycroft to the bench, and a second win in as many nights to close to within four points of the Leafs, who were bumped out of eighth place last night by Montreal.
"Everyone is still in it and they’ll be in it until the end," predicted Raycroft of the four points that now separate six teams. "Every night won’t be pretty."
Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, agreed:
How good are things going for the Bruins right now? Well, try this. They were already without Patrice Bergeron and then learned yesterday that both Glen Murray and Andrew Alberts would be unavailable for, at this point, was the biggest game of their season.
So what happened? The B’s got Stanislav Chistov’s first goal in 19 games, a shorthanded tally from P.J. Axelsson and then Jason York’s first NHL goal since Jan. 8, 2004, to earn a 3-0 victory over the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre.
The Bruins are now five points behind the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference after losing to Atlanta.
Doug Flynn, the Herald’s Bruins insider notes:
The Bruins’ unlikely late-season surge continued tonight in Toronto, where Boston won its third straight game with a 3-0 shutout of the Maple Leafs.
Boston is now 3-1-0 on its season-high six-game road trip and 7-2-0 in its last nine games overall. The bruins still haven’t moved out of 12th place in the East, but they have narrowed the gap a bit. At 29-26-4 (62 points), they now trail eighth-place Carolina by five points for the final playoff spot. The Bruins still have to get past the Rangers (63 points), Toronto (66 points) and the Islanders (66 points) before getting to the Hurricanes (67 points), but they do have a game in hand on each of the teams ahead of them, and three games in hand on Carolina.
The Bruins won this one despite fielding a less-than-complete lineup. As expected, forwards Glen Murray and Patrice Bergeron were both out with what were listed as “lower-body injuries”, but defenseman Andrew Alberts also missed the contest with a lower-body injury of his own.
Rookie David Krejci got the call to fill in up front, while Jason York returned to the lineup on defense.
As they did the night before in Philadelphia, the Bruins found some unexpected sources of offense, with Stanislav Chistov, P.J. Axelsson and Jason York supplying the goals. Fittingly considering the club was playing short-handed due to injuries, Axelsson’s tally came while Boston was down a man.
Fluto Shinzawa, back on his beat for the Boston Globe after a short vacation wrote:
Less than a month ago, the smoldering, sputtering Bruins had been written off as dead, losers of five straight and looking like a club that had a "For Sale" sign framed in neon in the store window, ready to be picked apart and rebuilt for 2007-08.
But now, four games into a six-stop road trip that will most likely determine their fate for the season, the Bruins have shown flickers of something they’ve been hoping to acquire for far too long.
Last night, in the second of back-to-back games, the Bruins weren’t expected to show much of a pulse. They had settled into their hotel at approximately 1 a.m. after flying in from Philadelphia. They were without the 98 collective points of Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and Glen Murray (groin), two of their top three scorers. They were missing Andrew Alberts (lower body), who was hurt late in Monday’s victory. They were facing off against a 66-point club that had laid a 10-2 pasting on them in their previous meeting.
None of that mattered.
Tim Thomas stopped all 44 Toronto shots as the Bruins claimed a 3-0 shutout of the Maple Leafs before 19,578 at the Air Canada Centre. The Bruins, who conclude their road swing with stops against the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday and the Florida Panthers Saturday, now have 62 points, a three-game winning streak, and some swagger in their skates.
Hold on folks, the Bruins look to be preparing us for a ride rivaling any that they might find in Florida.
Fishing with the Fathers
Speaking of Florida, like some other NHL organizations, the Bruins have invited the players’ fathers on a road trip. So, for this current road trip many of the players will have Dad (or in some cases Bro) in tow down south.
Yesterday, the Canadian fathers and family arrived in Toronto, enjoyed the game against the Leafs and left with the team to fly to Tampa.
The remaining family members will arrive in Florida, enjoy some free time, and then hop a boat for some fishing in St. Petersburg.
Can’t wait for the fish stories when they get back to Boston.