Thank goodness the Boston Bruins had already clinched their playoff spot and division before this game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Safe in their position near the top of the Eastern Conference, frankly they can afford to have a 5-3 loss like this. It’s like having mild senioritis near the end of someone’s high school or college career. Maybe the Penguins just wanted, or needed, this win more. Still, there are definitely some things worth discussing.
Tyler Seguin was awarded the Seventh Player award before the game. Then in the game, he seemed somewhat snakebitten, trying hard to score (even on breakaways) but never succeeding. There was some fan debate as to whether he deserved the award, but consider the way he has exploded offensively as the right winger of an oft-successful second line, or the fact that he has either topped or been around the top of the entire NHL’s plus-minus list for pretty much all of the season. Besides, it’s just one award, and most of the guys who could’ve won said award also won a bigger prize last June. Isn’t it great that there’s so much talent to be considered for a Seventh Player award anyway?
Moving on to the game itself, it didn’t look great when the Bruins fell into a 2-0 hole thanks to goals by Sidney Crosby and Paul Martin. In Martin’s case, that was just his second goal of the year. Fault for Crosby’s goal could be placed somewhat on Joe Corvo’s shoulders, because he mishandled the puck in the Penguins’ zone and then his faulty defending helped lead to the tally.
But then Benoit Pouliot scored for the Bruins near the end of the first and the third line of he, Chris Kelly and Brian Rolston worked well once more. Milan Lucic tied it up very soon into the second period by taking a sweet pass from David Krejci after some good rebound management in front of Brent Johnson. With the game now tied up, the pace grew a little slower and the commentators grew restless until two late-period penalties swung the game irrevocably in the Penguins’ favor.
Daniel Paille‘s charging call and Rich Peverley‘s high-sticking call combined to give the visitors an advantageous situation they used very well. They scored twice: once on the 5-on-3, once on the power play. I must say the way Kris Letang reacted to contact from Peverley’s stick blade, which seemed to hit him more on his shoulder than anything and caused him to dramatically fall to the ice in manner of someone being killed in a Shakespeare tragedy, looked like an embellishment. Well, he got the call, so that worked for him. (Also, did you know there’s an NHL rule that would allow Brendan Shanahan to give Letang a fine even though the incident wasn’t penalized? Don’t bet on it happening in this case, but the rule exists.)
In the third period, Arron Asham extended the Penguins’ lead and then got involved in a collision with Johnny Boychuk that caused Boychuk’s leg to go a way legs don’t normally go–he then needed help leaving the ice. He will be re-evaluated soon and coach Claude Julien told fans to keep their fingers crossed. We’ll keep you updated on further Boychuk developments and hope he feels well as soon as possible.
Peverley prevented the outcome of the last Boston-Pittsburgh game from repeating itself, but in the end the Penguins won by two.
Fun sidebars: Mark Recchi was in the house and got a standing ovation when he was shown on the Garden HDX screens as this song played. Tuukka Rask, sitting in the press box alongside Nathan Horton, was really interested in his cup of popcorn.
Next up for the Bruins is a meeting with the Ottawa Senators. This game may very well be a playoffs preview, so keep an eye on this!