The Bruins traveled to the nation’s capital tonight for their regular season finale. In a game that had no bearing on the playoffs, the Bruins dressed their JV squad against the Capital’s regulars. Outside of Oshie, Carlson and Kuznetsov this was the Caps A squad while this was the Bruins lineup card:
Home Boy Jack pointed out on the NESN broadcast that if you added up Backstrom and Chara’s games in the NHL; they would exceed the COMBINED TOTAL of tonight’s Bruins lineup by an amazing 463 games. And Jack must have had the calculator at the ready as he also let us know that the Bruins were sitting $65.2 million dollars of cap space tonight. That’s 8 of the top 9 forwards and the entire D corp that started the last 2 games.
The game was flying by as there wasn’t a whistle for a single offside or icing in the opening 20 minutes. This game had the feel of a 10pm beer league game, the refs had other places to be so the whistles were staying in their pockets. The Bruins didn’t pass up a chance to put a body on any red sweater they saw and carried the pace of play through the first. Swayman was on his angles and out aggressively to challenge shooters, none better than when he blanked Hagelin on a shorthanded breakaway.
The Bruins got on the board first when Tinordi (sporting a fish bowl thanks to Hathaway), dropped down the slot and laid a perfect backhander to Lazar at the blue paint. Lazar finished the play with the tap in and the good guys are up. Hagelin tied it up for the Caps late in the middle frame when a point shot leaked through Swayman as Hathaway made contact with the Bruins’ netminder. Hagelin was Johnny on the Spot and tucked in the errant puck to tie the game.
The Bruins had to shorten the bench in the 3rd as Zboril was done after 2 periods with the dreaded “upper body injury” and Frederic was serving a 10min misconduct for talking with Wilson. The look on Frederic’s face when Chara came over when he was jawing with Wilson was comical. I didn’t realize that Wilson needed babysitting; so he’s a scumbag and a pussy, ok gotcha. The Caps finally realized that they were playing the JV squad and put the pressure on in the 3rd with extended flurries and long puck possessions. Swayman was huge all night but he was massive at the 12:00 minute mark when he sprawled legs akimbo to deny the Caps on multiple chances from in close. Oskar Steen had the best bid for the Bruins late in the 3rd when his drag snap shot beat Vanecek clean over the blocker but clanged off the crossbar for no goal. It looked as if we were heading for extra hockey but Raffi put one off Swayman’s shoulder? head? collarbone? to go under the bar and out with 3 seconds left to seal the W for the Caps. Quickly on Ovechkin: Did anyone else think that Ovi played tonight thinking he’d have some easy cookies to pad his goal total? 6 shots on net in 19:00 minutes TOI and he still hasn’t crossed his own blue line on the back check.
What an example of
selfish me first hockey leadership.
All in all, it was a stellar effort from Swayman and the Wanna-B’s and the game could have easily gone the other way. Good to see the young guns out there along with some of the vets that don’t get that kind of ice time normally. Ritchie, Wagner and Kampfer all sported the “A” tonight and if I had to pick one player that stood out from the group it would be Cameron Hughes. In his season debut (and 2nd NHL game), he played just over 16 minutes with 3 hits and 3 takeaways and seemed to be around the puck all night.
As I wrap up the regular season and head up to God’s country to get mentally ready for the playoffs, I wanted to empty the tank of thoughts and stats and who know’s what else.
Without further adieu:
- Patrice Bergeron finishes the regular season with a face-off percentage of 62.3%. That’s tops in the NHL. What a legend.
- Nick Ritchie was the only Bruin to play in all 56 games this season.
- Today is Brad Marchand’s 33rd birthday. Happy birthday to The Little Ball of Hate who has transformed himself into a Hart candidate. For the 4th time in 5 years, Marchy led the Bruins in points for the season. Not bad for a 4th liner with a licking problem.
- DeBrusk didn’t stand out tonight on a night that he should have stood out. From all I hear, he’s a great kid and his teammates love him. A change of scenery just might be the thing that saves his career. He hasn’t looked the same since his concussion.
- Ondrej Kase is reported to have taken himself out of the game last night due to conditioning. Glad it wasn’t anything related to his concussion issues.
- My unsung hero award of this year’s Bruins is Craig Smith. If anyone told you that this type of play was what they were expecting when the B’s acquired him, they’re a liar.
- Don Sweeney killed it at the trade deadline. Lazar is here for another year and it wouldn’t be a stretch to envision Hall re-signing and then Krecji re-upping to keep the top 2 lines together. Not sure about Reilly since I’m guessing he’s played himself out of the Bruins’ budget.
- The Bruins have an embarrassment of riches in net. Tuukka Rask, Jaro Halak, Dan Vladar and Jeremy Swayman. I envision Rask coming back on a shorter term (maybe 2 years?) as he slowly concedes to Swayman as Vladar continues to grow his game in Providence. As much as I like him, it’s probably happy trails to Halak who has been an awesome piece of this team for the last 3 years. He did everything that’s been asked of him and was a steady presence behind Tuukka.
- Bergeron led the way this season with a +27 for the year. Behind him was Marchand at +26 then Charlie McAvoy at +22 and Smith at +21. Marchand led forwards in average TOI with just under 19:00 and McAvoy led all blue-liners with 24:00 TOI.
- If Kevan Miller doesn’t win the Masterton Trophy than it’s a sham. He has come back from 2 shattered kneecaps and is playing better than ever. It should be a slam dunk for him, talk about dedication.
It’s been great talking with you (at you?) this season as part of The Morning Skate’s team. I pattern my game after Gregory Campbell’s game: grinding down low, crashing the net, chirping everyone and doing whatever I can to get the W. I had a friend recently compare my game to Joint Boy on Letterkenny, not sure but I believe he meant it as a compliment? I’m going to take it as a compliment. Either way, it’s been a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the playoffs.