Johnny Boychuck was slashed early in what looked like a slash from hell. He went down the tunnel for a few minutes before returning to the bench and eventually the ice. Later Gregory Campbell would block a shot in a highly uncomfortable way and spend a few moments taking deep breaths on the bench while the Bruins killed the rest of the penalty. Sadly the return of both players to the ice probably count as the highlights for Bruins fans. Seidenberg’s tripping call lead to a goal, and Stuart muffed a swat of the puck just before it found it’s way past Rask.
The first Bruins powerplay had me fighting off flashbacks to last season. By the end of the period, the Bruins were able to convert on a much more lively, and controlled powerplay when Patrice Bergeron fed Zdeno Chara and the Colossus of the blueline smashed one past the King of Broadway.
In the first and probably most surprising fight of the night Sean Avery jumped Mark Stuart after number 45 flattened a hapless blueshirt at the blueline. Avery got an instigator and was not deprived of company as there would be two more fights and a total of 33 PIMs for the Rangers in the first period. The next fight was Shawn Thornton dropping the gloves and swinging uphill at Derek Boogaard. Not a flashy fight, a few good hits and then it was broken up. In the final bout of the first period Milan Lucic dropped the gloves when challenged by Brandon Prust. Again, the wimpification of the game by NHL officials saw this one ended before Lucic could warm up.
The Bruins ended the period with seconds remaining on a powerplay. 2-1 Rangers after 20.
Breaking loose from the box Staal makes amends for his penalty by sticking a sweet shot by Rask. Ignore the hits column tonight on the score sheet, Blake Wheeler has set the physical tone for the night. He’s hit hard and often on anything wearing blue tonight. He had some impressive aggression on the penalty kill, he’s given hard hits in all three zones and hasn’t hesitated to go for the body or the puck. Hopefully we’ll see his hard work rewarded. Seidenberg touched a puck to Krejci who fed Horton for a nice goal.
A better period for the Bruins, over all but not great play. Period ended with a high sticking double major to Campbell. The Bruins have yet to score a short handed goal, despite the aggression of their penalty kill, the Rangers have yet to allow one.
Despite some good shots, and outshooting the Rangers all night the Bruins couldn’t manage to get it done at all in the third period. The defense was depleted by the loss of Boychuck, and the team was in a hole from the word go. The Rangers showed up wanting it more and they got it. The first ten minutes had many fans flashing back to the uglier portions of last season and even the “Uncle Dave” era. Brad Marshand may have had the best shot of the third period, which says a lot. The Rangers went harder for the win with more shots blocked and a higher percentage of solid play. Aside from the effort level, I doubt Tortarelli will hold this game up as an example of how to win as the discipline was just about non existent in the early goings and aside from the Staal goal there wasn’t much pretty about this game.
Despite the struggles of the team early on, and the injury to Boychuck there were some less murky points to this game. Andrew Ference was very effective tonight, never giving up even on the two occasions he was beaten clean. High end skating, solid positioning and good stick work all night. Blake Wheeler however was the Bruins unsung hero of the night, with the pressure he created on the forecheck, in the neutral zone and simply making the smart play at every opportunity.