Friday, December 24, 2010
It's only one game but what a response from the Boston Bruins
With all the dark clouds surrounding the team and head coach Claude Julien, it's hard to imagine a much more promising result than they one the Boston Bruins turned in last night at TD Garden: a 4-1 beating of the Atlanta Thrashers.
Whatever happens, this will go down as one of the best games of the season as an unsung hero (Shawn Thornton) netted two goals and even better, the whole team stood up for each other late in the third period when Atlanta scrub Freddy Meyer took a run at Bruins star Milan Lucic.
After losing four of five and looking mostly terrible for the last month, it was a good sign that the players haven't tuned out Julien and for once, they played with a little heart and didn't stand by idly when an opponent took a cheap shot at one of their teammates.
Patrice Bergeron got the game off to a rousing start when he potted a short-handed goal just three minutes into the contest. Dustin Byfuglien couldn't keep the puck in the offensive zone so Bergeron stole it and skated in on Thrashers (19-13-5) goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (32 saves) and waited him out before tucking it behind him.
Boston (18-11-4) exploded for two more goals early in the second period. Michael Ryder joined Lucic and Nathan Horton in double digits with his 10th goal of the season. It was a rocket snap shot on the power play from Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg.
From there, it was the Shawn Thornton show. He had begun the night by fighting Eric Boulton two seconds into the game (really). The only true old school tough guy on the roster reached his career high in goals with a pair of sweet ones. First he one-timed a pass from Adam McQuaid (and Daniel Paille) at 5:00 (less than a minute after Ryder's goal).
Byfuglien got Atlanta's only goal a few moments later, from Evander Kane and Bryan Little.
This was Thornton's night (and he could have had a hat trick since he almost tapped one in during the first period) and he capped it with a goal-scorer's move (forehand to backhand) to make it 4-1 Bruins 4:54 into the third period.
Tim Thomas made 26 saves in a relatively quiet night by his standards. Truth be told, if Pavelec hadn't stood on his head, this could have easily been 6-1 or 7-1.
Go to hockeyfights.com if you didn't catch the insane ending of the third period. It will probably go down as Boston's biggest fight of the season. Kane fought Lucic in a heavyweight bout. Little and Marc Savard (who had his best game since last season pre-concussion) squared off. Andrew Ference took on Anthony Stewart and got a face full of blood but earned plenty of respect.
Looch could get suspended since he took a late shot at Meyer while he was tied up with the refs. Although as Jack Edwards hilariously pointed out, "his legs were jelly right there." Indeed, Meyer seemed to embellish it, with any luck the NHL agrees.
All we can hope is that this intensity and passion carries over to after Christmas. They begin a five-game road trip in Florida on Monday night.