That’s one way to improve from what had been one of the Boston Bruins‘ worst games of this shortened season, that’s for sure. A thoroughly improved effort, especially from Milan Lucic, helped lead Boston to a 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. That was Tuukka Rask‘s second shutout in a matter of just five days, by the way–he’s put up no-nos against both Floridian teams.
That’s an important distinction to make, of course: neither Florida team will be anywhere near the 2013 playoffs, so do these wins portend well against teams that are definitely in the party? Only time will tell, although the joy of hearing “two Us, two Ks, two points, two-nothing” is pretty great, no matter who’s on the other side of the ice. Besides, the Lightning lineup boasts a guy who may win the Rocket Richard Trophy and the current league leader in scoring, so they’re not totally chumps.
This game didn’t start out so great. Maybe the players were just as shocked as many fans were about who won the Seventh Player Award. (I will cover that further in a separate article, but here’s a preview: I think the wrong man won.) But really, things looked not so good at all for much of the first 20: out-shot, outwitted, Rask at times the only reason they weren’t outscored. Then, Andrew Ference helped turn the tide. He absolutely pummeled former teammate Benoit Pouliot, going at it with such fervor that I wonder if Pouliot insulted the idea of recycling or composting or something else that Ference holds dear.
His teammates answered the call that he initiated, though–Shawn Thornton explained that he knows from experience that when players fight, it’s not for their health, it’s to try to get something going. The second period was a fantastic way to answer the bell, so great that I want to print it out and frame it in a beautiful frame.
Both Bruins goals came in the middle stanza, from the sticks of Dennis Seidenberg and Daniel Paille. Lucic looked more like his old self, taking on Keith Aulie in an intense and emotional fight that jazzed up fans who had been concerned about his play all season. (He also had four hits and a takeaway. That’s not a world-shaking performance, but compared to how he’d been lately, it’s a change.)
It was reasonable to worry about this team’s chances of holding the lead into the third period, but this time, they gave us a good reason to not be concerned. They held that lead and even tried to expand it through a late power play that wasn’t amazing, but wasn’t terrible either.
Here’s hoping this game could help the Bruins’ confidence levels heading into their last two games of the regular season. It is still not yet clear exactly who they will face in the playoffs, but they could stand to get all four points left to earn. Interestingly, their next adversary is none other than the Washington Capitals, a year to the day from that bad night when the Caps knocked the Bruins out of the 2012 playoffs. This could get interesting.