Since the other games I've been to this year have gone to overtime, I was hoping for a one-sided affair this time. The word "quota" might have even crossed my mind when I circled this date on the schedule. Well, I can't really complain about the Bruins' solid 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames; even if the game fell short of my lofty expectations, the Bruins still handled an inferior opponent quite well. It just took a little longer than expected.
The first period, contrary to "second period meltdown" narrative, was easily the worst the Bruins played. Since this was the Calgary Flames, however, they still ended the period up 10-9 in SOG. In fact, the theme for the entire game for Calgary was probably that while the Flames didn't have a problem getting in position to shoot during certain stretches, notably the first period and their couple Power Plays, they missed the net or had their opportunities blocked a lot more than their Bruins counterparts did.
Lance Bouma was probably the Least Valuable Player for the Flames, as his reckless highsticking of Kevan Miller in the 2nd period led to the Bruins first goal - a Zdeno Chara slapper off a nice set-up from Iginla and Krejci that the Captain managed to sneak through Berra. Boston continued to dominate the play even after the double-minor on Bouma expired, and you could have forgiven Rask for falling asleep in net behind the effective Boston possession game. He didn't though, and our stellar Finnish goaltender notched a clean sheet.
The other goal came on a tap home from in a weirdly Groundhog Day-esque sequence. Bouma highsticked Miller again, early in the third, Bruins went on the PP as a result, Chara scored from Krejci and Iginla. Miller drew six minutes of penalties with his face, so kudos to him for toughing it out and drawing a couple of ugly penalties that, ultimately, proved to be the difference. At 2-0, Calgary was again able to get some zone time down the stretch, but, especially in the last five minutes, their dump-and-chase strategy was ineffective in terms of generating actual chances. Aside from one good shot-and-rebound stop by Rask after a sequence where the Bergeron line whiffed on three ENG attempts (I assume they wanted Chara to score, because everyone else in the rink did), Calgary had no real push down the stretch, and the Bruins came away with a victory in their first game back at TD Garden.
- The Bruins Power Play continues its ascent from "go get a beer, someone tripped Krejci" to an actual above average unit. While the Flames PK unit seemed to play too passively, credit needs to go the B's for the good movement that set up Z's slapper, and the good rebound chance that Z potted in the third.
- Possession. The Bruins rolled four lines and three defensive pairings today, with only Craig Cunningham getting less than 10 minutes 10 TOI, and the only players who didn't end up in the black in terms of raw Corsi were Johnson-Spooner-Soderberg, Matt Bartkowski, Seidenberg, and Miller. Miller and Seidenberg only missed the breakeven mark by one Corsi event, despite the fact that the former had his face hacked at twice by Bouma, and the latter was rumored to be battling the tail end of the Bruins flu virus.
- Balance! While one line and a defensemen were clearly in the red, the Bruins clearly dominated puck possession overall, and it was a team effort - despite not being on the scoresheet, the Marchand-Bergeron-Smith line held the Flames down nicely. Lucic-Krejci-Iglina were dangerous, with the latter two potting assists on Chara's goals. Even Campbell's line was firmly in the black, to the point where it must be said that Caron and Cunningham held their own.
- Tuukka Rask rules.
- No even strength goals against the Calgary Flame is a little concerning, even if the Bruins did outplay them at even strength.
- Caron and Marchand both took pretty inexcusable penalties; Caron's trip in the first period gifted the Flames some quality chances. Marchand's boarding in the second was the kind of hit that you hate to see, driving Monahan headfirst into the dasher. Quite frankly he was lucky to only get two. I'm one of the most pro-Marchand people you'll find, but he really needs to get back to his usual MO of the last couple years -- taking the occasional penalty by playing on the edge, sure, but drawing far more than he took.
- Well, I mean, Kevan Miller got highsticked twice. Good for him for drawing penalties, but the Flames, particularly Bouma, had a hard time keeping their sticks down. Another highstick, against Chara in the first, went uncalled.
- McGrattan had the only real chance for the Flames in the first...and missed on an open net so badly that I've included it in the "bad" section even though we were all happy about.
- The Bruins PK killed off three penalties, including Bergeron's trip in the third period. After a run of averageness, they appear to be on the rise again. This is interesting given that Kelly, one of the team's ace SHTOI guys, isn't playing anymore. So credit to the Bruins Special Teams coaches for keeping the formula working.
- The weather. The total attendance was around 17,000 and far less than that made it to the Garden. Still less for the first period. Stay warm, folks!