Friday, November 21, 2008

Thoughts on Bruins/Sabres, Bruins/Panthers

All good things must come to an end, but this hot streak just seems to stretch on and on. Therefore, I believe, we should be prepared for a major letdown very soon. All things considered, I'd rather it be tonight than on Saturday. But first, the positives:


- For most of the season so far, Zdeno Chara has had no room to operate. Even on the PP, he always has a defender stuck to him like glue. That's why he's rarely able to unleash his nuclear slapshot, and hasn't been much of a factor as a pointman. So it's odd that the Sabres (who should know better, since they play him 28 times this season) gave Z so much room -- he scored twice, so don't expect them to do it again Wednesday.

- At their best, the Lucic/Savard/Kessel line is just dreamy to watch. Lucic and Savard are to the 2000s what Neely and Oates were to the 90s. Kessel is something different altogether, a pure goal scorer like the Bruins haven't seen in a long, long time.

- One door closes, another opens: Matt Hunwick has a goal, two assists and a +2 in relief of Andrew Ference. He's got great foot speed and a sense of when to jump into the play. Though he still makes the occasional rookie mistake, his career arc will be a lot like Ference's... which makes this early experience invaluable.

- Games against the Sabres are important enough anyway, but after Wednesday the Bruins will only play them twice -- January 2 and April 11. So winning a 4-point divisional game is huge for a team now eyeing a division title.


- The Panthers are astonishingly low-powered on offense -- Nathan Horton leads them with 11 points (Savard has 25 for Boston).

- Though his stats are poor, Tomas Vokoun is one of the league's elite goaltenders. He can shut you down no matter how you play. Putting him up against Tim Thomas is a great matchup of underrated netminders.

- Jay Bouwmeester still hasn't scored yet this season. Think he's squeezing the stick by now? You better believe he will shoot the puck at every possible opportunity.

- The Bruins have to be very careful not to look past this game to Saturday night, when they visit Montreal for Roy's number retirement. The Montreal media will be on them as soon as this game is over. In a sense, I'd almost rather they lose this one if it helps relieve some pressure against the Habs.

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