It still feels like something’s missing, but maybe the Boston Bruins won it for Milt Schmidt.
The former Boston great, who just turned 95 on March 5, was on hand to drop the ceremonial puck as the Bruins welcomed the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s not as easily able to walk anymore and Tuukka Rask helped him get to the end of the carpet for the ceremony, but it was still a joy to see him there.
When Schmidt left the ice and the Bruins started to play, there were still a few problems, mainly still with the third line. With Chris Bourque being waived for reassignment to Providence, Jay Pandolfo went on line three in his stead. The third line did put up some good effort at times, but not with any results. There was even one supremely frustrating shift in which they had what looked like all the opportunity in the world to score, open nets and big chances, but without any conversion. That was before anyone had scored, too, so it was even more frustrating.
In the first period, Boston found themselves in some trouble when they were down two men, Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille, at the same time. Thankfully, their prowess in penalty killing had returned and the Bruins successfully killed the five-on-three time, plus the resulting power play for the Maple Leafs.
Then, just after the announcement of one minute remaining in the first Patrice Bergeron did what has so often vexed the Bruins: took care of a rebound. Tyler Seguin put it on net, Ben Scrivens denied him, but Bergeron was right there to tuck it in for his sixth goal of the season.
Actually, the Bruins made the best of rebounds twice in this game. David Krejci‘s sixth of the season also came from a rebound, helped out by Andrew Ference and Milan Lucic.
Early in the second period, the Maple Leafs got on the board thanks to Nazem Kadri, who has been surprisingly productive this season–that was his 11th goal. But Seguin caused the traditional chant of “Thank You Kessel” when he scored five minutes later to retake the Boston lead. Speaking of Kessel, he had no points, just two shots on goal and a -2 rating this evening.
Krejci’s rebound goal made it 3-1 Boston going into the third period, but then the recent problems of the third-period Bruins came to light again. Namely, the Maple Leafs made it a one-goal game with a Mikhail Grabovski goal late in the period, suddenly making this game even more stressful. It’s strange how the Bruins have morphed from third period beasts to third period beasts of a different sort, a terrifying sort instead of an excellent sort. Here’s hoping they can morph back to how they used to be in the last 20 minutes soon.
But strong goaltending from Anton Khudobin–who at times made some impressive saves and I think I even saw him do the splits at least once–helped to keep the door shut and Seguin’s empty net goal sealed the 4-2 win.
Despite the win, though, there were still some issues. Most of the production came from the second line, which is great because they work so well together, but still a point of concern for the other lines. The third period was nerve-wracking and there was one power play where even Andy Brickley thought the team didn’t have the desire to make something happen. Coach Claude Julien even said his team wasn’t perfect or firing on all cylinders. This is just the reiteration of what we keep hearing after every game, though.
The Bruins won, got the two points and made it a 15-3-3 record, but still it feels like there is more to be done. Can they start doing that in their next game, a March 9 matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers?