Friday, April 6, 2012

Bruins Beat Ottawa with Five Hands Tied Behind Their Backs

In the second-to-last game of the season the Bruins walked away with a victory in Ottawa, against the team they will likely face in the first round of the playoffs. They did this without Thomas, Chara, Bergeron, or Boychuk, none of whom even went on the trip. Boychuk is nursing his knee and the others were given time to rest prior to the playoffs. Add to this Adam McQuaid, who played only 7 minutes because he "didn't feel right" and this was hardly the same Bruins team. Although the game did not have a lot of meaning for Ottawa either, it's not like they rolled over and played dead. To tell the truth I didn't expect the Bruins to put this one in the win column.

One reason for the win is the surprisingly good play of recent acquisition Torey Krug, who tallied his first NHL point. This young defenseman, who recently signed as a free agent out of college, looks like he has a lot of NHL potential. It is somewhat of a mystery how he wasn't drafted, but he would not be the first excellent NHL player to fall through that particular crack. Some people are simply late bloomers. Once again it appears that the Bruins front office has pulled off another smart acquisition. It didn't hurt that Krug wanted to play for the Bruins, but that too is a result of the leadership from the front office.

The main reason the Bruins won this game was the debut of Anton Khudobin in goal. When backup goaltender Tukka Rask went down a few weeks ago it was Khudobin's chance at prime time. But coincidentally, Khudobin had also been injured, leading to the desperate acquisition of Marty Turco to fill in. Khudobin, now recovered, made the best of his chance last night. I liked his quickness and especially his intensity, which did remind me a bit of Thomas. He has a way to go, however. His play seemed a bit "raw"; his positioning wasn't always that good and his rebound control nearly got him into trouble on several occasions. Regardless, I think this kid may one day be a very good NHL goalie.

One thing is for certain: with this one good showing some in the Boston media are going to anoint Khudobin as the "next Tim Thomas" and prematurely celebrate him as yet another "goaltender of the future." We will, no doubt, have to suffer through articles in the New England media about how the Bruins should trade Thomas over the summer, regardless of how well he and the team do in the playoffs. Mark my words. The Thomas haters in the media live for the day they can run him out of town.

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