After gutting out a solid road win against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 16, the Boston Bruins had to travel to Chicago to face the Central Division leading Blackhawks, and then immediately return home for a bout with an equally formidable Kings team. Before the Dallas game the Bruins were in a bit of a rut, but their performance over the end of the weekend should have done much to quell the discontent.
Boston picked up three points out of a possible four (they lost in a shootout to the Hawks), and did plenty to show that they are capable of hanging with two of the best teams in the NHL. The play of both goaltenders, the explosive resurgence of Brad Marchand, and the ever improving injury situationt were at the forefront of this stretch of play. Most importantly, despite the injuries, the team seems to have found a level of consistency that they should begin to build on for the rest of the season.
1) The resurgence of Brad Marchand
How poor was the pesky wingers' start to this season? Put it this way, when GM Peter Chiarelli discusses your trade status without being prompted by anyone, you know things are not going well. Were those comments a ploy by the front office? Probably, but ever since then, Marchand has been on an absolute tear.
Since Jan. 14, the second liner has 7 points (6 G, 1 A) in four games (his shorthanded goal was pure desire), and now is the teams' sole leader in goals (16). What's perhaps most impressive over that span is that he is a plus-five, which means less penalties, and more scoring. It would be very difficult to keep this pace, but if Marchand has permanently snapped out of his funk, then the Bruins will once again have one of the best second lines in all of hockey.
2) Both goaltenders turn it around.
Both of the Bruins goalies have had their own troubles as of late. We covered Rask's woes here, and as for Chad Johnson, how much of his shortcomings were injury related (until the Dallas game he'd been out since Dec. 18) is unknown. For now, each player seems to have righted the ship.
Other than the the second goal (a bad softie) against the Hawks, Tuukka played an outstanding game on Sunday. Stopping 35 of 37 shots is difficult in its own right, but doing so against the most talented offense only made the feat that much more impressive.
As for Johnson, picking up two wins, while allowing four goals on 57 shots is all you can ask for from a goalie coming off of an injury. With eight games to play before the Olympic break on Feb. 8, the Bruins' backup will need to continue to stand tall in net if the team is going to continue to hold off the rest of the competition for the Atlantic Division's top spot.
3) The latest injury news
As of Thursday, the situation is a bit in flux. The good news is that defenseman Dougie Hamilton (concussion) and forward Chris Kelly (broken fibula) are skating in practice once again. The latter has bee doing so for a week and a half, but given the severity of his injury, it is unknown when he will return to the lineup. Hamilton's concussion was described as mild, so it's safe to say he could be back in action before the Olympic break.
The bad news is that D-man Adam McQuaid is once again out with a lower body injury that he endured against the Blackhawks on Sunday. There is currently no timetable for his return. The Bruins have called up defenseman Zach Trotman on an emergency basis.
- Boston Bruins Get Back on Track with 4-1 Win Over Florida Panthers
- First Line Powers Boston Bruins to 4-2 Road Win Over Dallas Stars
- What to Watch for When the Boston Bruins Visit the Tampa Bay Lightning
- Boston Bruins Injury Updates: Hamilton Out a Week, Miller Likely to Return Against Flames
- Winger Louis Eriksson Likely to Return to the Boston Bruins’ Lineup Tuesday Vs. the Dallas Stars
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