It is safe to say that the opener of the 2009-10 season did not go the way the Bruins hoped it would. After controlling most of the first period, a late goal on the power play made that effort for naught, and from there the Capitals controlled the game, cruising to a 4-1 win.
For post-game recaps here at Boards and Blades, we will break the game down into two categories: “Big, Bad Bruins” and “Blah, Blah Bruins.” I hope I don’t have to spell out which one is good and which one is not-so-good.
Big, Bad Bruins:
1. David Krejci: For not playing a shift in the preseason after major surgery in the offseason, the center didn’t look too behind out there. He did a good job finding some space and ended the game with two shots. His line with Ryder and Wheeler looked as if the chemistry may still be there despite not playing together since May. Will it take some time for Krejci to get back in full swing? Of course. However, I think that will be before the Bruins head out on their first road trip of the season.
2. Patrice Bergeron: It is one game, but it looks like the aggressiveness he had in the playoffs has carried over into the new season. He scored the only goal for the Bruins, snagging a loose puck on the boards on the shorthand and heading towards the net. A quick move and a stuff-shot later, he got the B’s on the board, preventing the shutout.
3. Tim Thomas. People who didn’t watch the game or who have no idea what they are talking about (I am looking at you, commenters on Boston.com) will see a 4-1 score and think blame rests on Timmy. To quote Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.” Of the four scores by the Caps tonight, maybe the third goal off the stick of Brooks Laich he had a chance on. The other three? No chance. Laich’s first goal was off a crisp cross-ice passing play on the man advantage. The other two goals came because Boston defenders forgot the guy wearing #8 in white is the best player on the planet. Even Dave Lewis would have known that keeping an eye on Alex the Gr8 was a good idea. Allowing him to unleash OvieBomb’s from the slot while stepping into them leads to goals against. It’s a law. Anyways, Tank still made 30 saves whiles his defensemen worried more about looking at the pretty white sweaters whirling around them. The guy whose contribution to Boston.com just said “Tuuuuuka” needs to settle down and watch the game.
Blah, Blah Bruins:
1. Milan Lucic: The Serbian Nightmare gave a half-effort on Ovechkin’s goal in the first minute of the third period. Lucic was in the right place, just didn’t follow through the whole play. If he bodies up and lifts a stick, that goal doesn’t happen. Totally different game.
2. Power Play: The Bruins had plenty of chances on the man advantage as Washington gave them five PP opportunities. The first PP was a short one as it came after killing their own penalty. The one at the end of the first period was really off. There was no flow, passes were a tick behind. The Bruins PP works best when Savard or Krejci has a chance to weave and work a bit to feed either the big bomber at the point or a cutting forward back-door. There was no setup or execution at all. Too many times, Washington has easy clears to kill time after a fudged play by a Bruin.
3. Andrew Ferrence: The man at the forefront of the NHLPA’s handling of ousted director Paul Kelly stood out to me as not being ready for the season. Yes, he is recovering from injury, but he was careless with the puck and seemed to be in the wrong position often. For someone who plays the second-most shifts and TOI of anyone on the blueline, you expect more confidence and fundamental play. If he struggles and more comes out about how he and the heads of the PA may have railroaded Kelly, it could get very tough for him in the locker room – and on the ice.
About the Other Team …
As easy as it is to focus on the Bruins play, don’t forget that the team in white is a chic pick for to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals did what any good or great team does. They survived Boston’s early pressure on Opening Night and countered on their special teams chance. Then, the Caps made sure they got the puck on the stick of their best player – who is also the best player in the game – and let him do his thing. Washington is lethal on the power play and deadly when Ovie feels “it.” Tonight, both happened. While the Bruins were listless for the middle portion of the game and in no way deserved the win, you can point at three direct miscues that led to three of the Washington goals. If the Bruins count to five correctly, if they don’t make a bad change with Ovie streaking to the net, if Looch back checks 100%, things may have been different. Make no mistake, it was a pretty tough way to open the season, but it isn’t the end of the world. Still, Caps are legit (as someone I know predicted in his season preview) and will score bushels of goals this year.
Interesting game with Carolina on Saturday. The Bruins will be taking on the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year, denying them a chance at the Cup. If they needed more motivation, the B’s will be looking to show the home crowd a better effort and result than the one tonight. The ex-Whalers will be coming off a game the night before against the powerhouse Flyers so they could be a tad tired going back-to-back on the first weekend of the season. Should be an all-around better game from the Black and Gold.
Overall, I give the Bruins a C+ tonight. The first 10 minutes belonged to the B’s. Bad penalties and loose defense did them in. Those are most likely habits that can be broken easily.