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Bruins clinch East with win over Rangers

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The Bruins clinched the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference with a 1-0 win over the New York Rangers. Tim Thomas turned aside all 31 shots he faced to record his 5th shutout of the season. Blake Wheeler scored the game's lone goal on a slapper from the right point 9:04 into the game.

The real story of today's game was Sean Avery's stick tap to the back of Tim Thomas' head. During a TV timeout with just over 5 minutes left in regulation, Sean Avery skated past Tim Thomas with his stick held out and tapped Thomas on the back of the head with his stick. Naturally, Thomas took exception to Avery's not-so-accidental contact and skated after the NHL's resident pest. Tim Thomas caught up to Avery at center ice and gave him a shove before Steve Montador got in between the two. Fredrik Sjostrom then pushed Thomas before getting a face full of blocker from Thomas. Sean Avery and Tim Thomas were both given 2 minute minors.

"Now, waffles taste good for breakfast but they're usually not too good to eat in the 3rd period of a hockey game." - Jack Edwards

Notes:

- If the season ended today, the Bruins would play the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. After today's game, that could be a very interesting series.

- I would think that the league office will be taking a long look at the tape from today's game.

- I am happy to report that Rene Rancourt was flexing his golden pipes and serving up salutes and fist pumps for the Bruins faithful before today's game.

- Aaron Ward missed today's game with an undisclosed injury.

- Andrew Ference did not return for the third period after an apparent injury.

- The scrum that ensued after Sean Avery's tap to the back of Thomas' dome wasn't the only time in this game that Thomas looked like he was ready to swap punches. With 0.1 seconds remaining in the second period, Paul Mara challenged Zdeno Chara after Chara put a big hit on Sean Avery. During the altercation, which yielded roughing minors for Chara and Mara, Thomas skated out of his crease to center ice and began jarring with Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

- The post played a part in preserving the shutout and the win for the Bruins when Lauri Korpikoski shot's clanked off the goalpost with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.

- The Bruins gave out their annual awards in a pre-game ceremony:

Eddie Shore Award (exceptional hustle and determination): Milan Lucic

Elizabeth Dufresne Award (outstanding performance in home games): Marc Savard

John P. Bucyk Award (greatest off-ice charitable contributions): Aaron Ward

Bruins 3 Stars Awards (top performers at home over the course of the season)
1st Star: Marc Savard
2nd Star: Zdeno Chara
3rd Star: Tim Thomas

- Milan Lucic recorded 7 hits today.

- Face-offs were even at 27 a piece.