If I said this was a playoff atmosphere, I'd be lying. But it was loud, fun, somewhat obnoxious, and ridiculous atmosphere at TD Garden tonight, and the Minnesota Wild were game for a St. Patrick's Day battle, hanging with the Bruins long enough to produce a thoroughly entertaining contest. In the end, Boston's third period prowess proved too much for the Wild, and the Bruins, who came into this game having never defeated the Wild at TD Garden, rode standout performances by Jarome Iginla and Tuukka Rask to a 4-1 win.
- Tuukka Rask. 33 Saves. And a number of OMGWTFBBQ-quality stops. Rask was Mikko Koivu's nemesis all night, robbed the Wild forward's backhand at point blank early in the first, and again later in that same period. It was a sign of things to come, as Rask's only GA was on a Jason Pominville semi-breakaway. Tuuuuuuka was strong all night.
- Jarome Iginla extended his goal-scoring lead by two, floating an eephus-style shot between Darcy Kuemper's pads to break the ice in the second period, and then an empty net goal with 1:05 left to ice the game for the Bruins he now has 25 goals.
- Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson hooked up on another sweet Swedish goal, not long after Iginla's opening tally. Soderberg circled the net, appeared to have the Wild defenders thinking he was targeting Chris Kelly, and instead threw a perfect backhanded touch pass into the path of Eriksson. Loui, crashing from the right circle, tapped the puck in for a 2-0 lead. Mercy.
- Reilly Smith got off the 'schneid. While Smith has still been playing good Hockey, it's nice to see players break goal-scoring slumps, and #18 came in having not scored since January. He fixed that, giving the Bruins an insurance goal by potting a Bergeron rebound in the third period to give the B's a 3-1 advantage.
- Daniel Paille had a nice little game, ringing one off the post on a breakaway and generally doing a good job of messing the Wild up on the forecheck. He had the wheels going tonight, and was rewarded by a +5 Corsi.
- Marchand-Bergeron-Smith had a quiet night, by their standards, until Smith's goal. But in the mean time, they did a good job of effectively offsetting the Wild's top, including Zach Parise. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron were their usual awesome selves on the PK.
- The Matt Bartkowski-Andrej Meszaros pairing (when they were together, Claude mixed and matched a bit, thankfully) was scary as heck on a number of plays. Allowing Pominville to split them up the middle to collect a Ryan Suter pass and score the Wild's only goal was probably the worst example. I'm not sold on either one of those guys as the 4D for the playoffs, and I'm seeing that spot as the B's only concerning weakness in their Top 9/Top 4.
- I saw a man dump a beer on his own head. Seven dollar, watery beer is still beer. What a waste.
- Scary moment when half of Jason Pominville's stick flew at Rask as the puck went into the net. Lucky, Tuukka avoided the stick, and injury.
- Our record against the Wild is still only 3-10-0. Cancel the parade.
- The Wild, who came in at 7th in the West and with flagging possession numbers, did manage to play a pretty even game with the Bruins. In fact, I'd even given them the nod, slightly, in first period play. This was one game where a difference in quality of goaltending was clear.
- There was also a probably a slight difference in ability to clog shooting lanes, too -- the Bruins actually narrowly out Corsi'd the visitors, but the Wild had the higher Fenwick on the game. Of course, the fancystats for a game that's 2-0 a little over halfway through is going to be prone to some score effects, but that seems about right nonetheless.
- Only one penalty was called the entire game, a somewhat dubious tripping call in the first against Andrej Meszaros. The Bruins killed the ensuing penalty. As is often the case, when the Boston Bruins don't commit an overabundance of infractions, they win.
- With Johnny Boychuk on the shelf due to soreness from his awkward boards adventure a game ago, Dougie Hamilton was second in TOI, at 23:27 only to Zdeno Chara' s 24:25. Matt Bartkowski was third with 20:10. Kevan Miller, fourth, got more ice time than Torey Krug or Meszaros. Though to be fair, that last part wasn't that bad of a call, as Miller had a nice game (as did Krug).
- Chris Kelly somehow managed a CF of 36% while playing with Soderberg and Eriksson. I do still wonder if he isn't better used one line down, and if the Swedes wouldn't benefit from another offensive-minded player on the third line. That's relatively small beer compared to the 4D situation, I suppose, but, with the team cruising towards the postseason, it's worth wondering about.
- Matt Cooke's face. Though he was a complete non-factor in this game, which is fitting given the fact that everyone knows his name because of crappy reasons.
- Have you ever tried to get out of Boston on St. Patrick's day, after a Bruin's game, via public transportation? Don't. Trust me on that.
Tweet of the Night:
Some dude played his 1300th NHL game tonight, and looked 25 in doing so.
The Bruins moved on to New Jersey, and old friends Jaromir Jagr and Michael Ryder, for the second game of yet another back-to-back (please, please reduce these next year, NHL schedulers -- after all, there's no Olympics to work around). The Devils, who had the day, will be rested and at home as the Bruins go for their 10th straight win.