In an exciting fight and controversy-filled contest, the Boston Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5 thanks to a shootout. Here are six thoughts on tonight’s action:
Both Patrice Bergeron (15-26-41, +27) and Scott Hartnell (25-19-44, +18) deserved to be included in next week’s NHL All-Star festivities based on their performance to date this season. There aren’t many more egregious snubs than those two and they showed exactly why today. Bergeron had a goal and an assist on the afternoon while Hartnell had a natural hat-trick on three second-period goals.
There may be a few players not in Ottawa next week who have more points than those two – but you’d be hard pressed to say that anyone who brings more to their teams than Hartnell and Bergy won’t be in attendance.
Bryz vs. the Universe
Ilya Bryzgalov was extremely shaky in the first, allowing three goals on fifteen shots. In the third he was even worse, with two goals to give up the Flyers hard-fought lead on the first three shots. He’s been night and day versus the Bruins on the year – looking excellent in the opener back in October, but like a sieve wearing pads in both matches since – giving up five goals on both occasions.
Bryz even took a swing at one of the Bruins’ during a scrum to the side of his net, his blocker appearing to connect on at least one of his flailing attempts.
Twenty-four year-old Tom Sestito is a ‘veteran’ of seventeen NHL games and (shocker) he has averaged just under five minutes of penalties per game in his illustrious career to date. He’s a big boy who hung in against Milan Lucic in an early fight despite taking some serious punches and overcame the loss of a tooth to return to game action.
Unfortunately, the young man who has less than 25 minutes of ice-time this season committed (but was not penalized for) a high blind-side hit on the Bruins’ Nathan Horton. Horton retaliated but was pulled from the game after the second intermission due to a head injury (uh-oh).
One has to wonder if Sestito will face discipline (it’s hard to tell if the head was the sole point of contact, but it was certainly a dirty play) but with the complete absence of consistency from the League disciplinary office – who can tell? Even so – would it be apt punishment for a team which allowed a 6’5 goon to run around and go high on others (including Steven Kampfer). He’s only played four this season and it’s hard to imagine Philly griping much about losing him – how about fining some coaches and franchises for reckless behavior from their squads?
Hartnell Impressed – And then We Recall Why We Hate Him
Scott Hartnell gave Philly fans a show with a hat-trick in the second period but then reminded us why everyone in 29 other cities seems to hate the carrot-topped forward – he’s a cheap-shot artist. Hartnell’s blind-sided, head-targeting hit on Chris Kelly that earned the ire of everyone who bleeds Black and Gold and certainly Shawn Thornton who introduced the curly-haired offender to his knuckles in the moments immediately following the hit.
Perhaps calling him a cheap-shot artist is going a bit overboard. Maybe it’s true (as Jack Edwards reminds us) that Scotty has cleaned up his game. Perhaps this was recklessness and a mistake.
Of course some tend to think otherwise – that Hartnell is a bum (a talented, valuable bum for Philly) – one who fans around the Hub will relish booing the next time the Fly Guys visits TD Garden.
On a more serious note, one hopes that Chris Kelly is ok – as the list of wounded B’s from Sunday’s action grew almost as long as the scoring sheets. Kampfer (on a clean hit from Brayden Schenn) and Horton both with perceived head issues (and perhaps Kelly as well). BHT wishes speedy recoveries to them all.
What Game Were the Refs Watching??!!
We kid – but, seriously, there were some terrible decisions by the Zebras on Sunday – some egregious missed calls, asinine man-advantage situations and phantom penalties (going both ways). It’s a loser’s lament to bitch and moan about the refereeing, but it just looked horrendous tonigh.
In all seriousness, I’ve always though the NHL was head and shoulders above every League but the MLB when it comes to the in-game officiating – but after this game (and too many others like it in recent years), I feel the need to re-think that position. Perhaps the game is closer to the NBA in this regard than I’d like (shudder).
The B’s two-time Vezina-winner and defending Conn Smythe trophy-taker has looked extremely shaky of late and seen his once League-leading totals look more and more human as January’s progressed. His GAA is up to 2.12 (horror of horrors – I know!) and his save percentage is down to a pedestrian .933% after allowing at least four goals in four of his last eight starts – after not once allowing that many in any start until New Year’s Eve.
Should Bruins fans be concerned? A bit.
Thomas’ numbers historically decline steadily month-by-month throughout his career: He’s been an excellent – almost ungodly first-half goalie, but after the All-Star break he’s traditionally dropped off as the season progresses – with a fairly ordinary career mark of .915 Sv% in the regular season in the months of February, March and April.
What this probably means is more action for Tuukka Rask and rest for the B’s All-Star netminder. Not necessarily a bad deal for the Black and Gold.
Bonus: I get on NESN…’s Twitter Feed
Of course this was the day I got on NESN’s twitter feed – when everyone’s watching the Pats (congrats by the way!) and Jack didn’t even discuss my deep 140-character remark about NHL realignment and its effect on rivalries like Philly-Boston. Guess the world will never know my genius (sigh).
Bruins’ Three Stars
3.) Milan Lucic – A Gordie Howe Hat-Trick (and an impressive one at that) for the B’s big power-forward. He certainly earned a win in the fight against Sestito, an assist on the Bruins’ fourth goal and delivered a real snipe from the high slot for the B’s third tally.
2.) Tyler Seguin – After a few games on the Schneid, Segsy bust back into the points column with a goal and an assist in the first to improve to 43 points on the season to continue to lead the best offensive team in the NHL. It was nice to see him play gritty and trade some pushes and chops with the Flyers’ 2011 first-rounder, Sean Couturier.
1.) Patrice Bergeron – A goal and an assist added to the argument in favor of his inclusion at the 2012 All-Star Game in Canada’s capital. Bergy led all forwards with just under 23 minutes of ice-time, managed several hits, blocked shots and takeaways to go along with sixteen faceoff wins.
Follow Bob Mand on Twitter at @BobMandBTR