Thursday, January 6, 2011
Rapid reaction: Wild 3, Bruins 1
By James Murphy
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t want to call Thursday's game against the Minnesota Wild a trap game but that’s exactly what it was. The Bruins, seemingly lethargic from their recent five-game road trip and possibly looking ahead to another road game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, got caught sleeping and lost, 3-1.
Wild winger Cal Clutterbuck picked off a Marc Savard clearing pass and beat Tuukka Rask for the game-winner 2:22 into the third period. Mikko Koivu added an empty-netter and despite warnings from their coach, the Bruins lost their first game at home since Dec. 23. Now they will prepare for Montreal and then the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Here are some quick hits following the loss to Minnesota:
Rask gets third straight start. After a 36-save performance in a 2-1 win at Toronto on Monday, Rask got the nod between the pipes again to make his third consecutive start, his longest stretch of games this season. Rask looked solid but was once again the beneficiary of some bad breaks. The first goal he allowed came compliments of a questionable hooking call on Shawn Thornton at 4:41 of the second period. Martin Havlat lit the lamp for the Wild four seconds later on the power play. Cal Clutterbuck beat Rask for the second goal 2:22 into the third period after Clutterbuck picked off a clearing pass by Marc Savard. Rask made an unbelievable stop on Havlat with 2:20 left in the second period -- when he came diving across to swat Havlat’s attempt away -- and he finished with 31 saves, yet again this season deserving a better fate.
Seguin back at center between Recchi and Bergeron. After switching off with Patrice Bergeron between wing and center for most of the third period Monday night in Toronto, Tyler Seguin saw even more time in the middle Thursday. The rookie spent most of the game there until he was shifted up to the top line to replace Marc Savard, who saw limited ice time after his errant pass led to what proved to be the game-winner by Cal Clutterbuck. Both Seguin and Bergeron seemed comfortable with the switch, as they both got assists on Steven Kampfer’s goal 10:50 into the second period. Bergeron made a great play in stealing the puck away from Wild defenseman Brent Burns and dishing it across the middle for Kampfer. Seguin then made sure it reached the pinching Kampfer by tipping it over to the blueliner for the goal. Bergeron now has four points in his past five games while Seguin has three in his past three games.
Kampfer improving every game. This scribe isn’t afraid to admit when he’s wrong and once again, Steven Kampfer has proved me wrong. Since I wrote that the rookie defenseman had a long ways to go to become the puck-moving defenseman the Bruins need, Kampfer now has three goals in his past five games. Kampfer was -- once again -- pinching and reading the play perfectly on his third goal of the season Thursday and is looking more and more comfortable on the ice every game. He and Dennis Seidenberg seem to have good chemistry, and the rookie, at least right now, is becoming that smooth-transition defenseman this team needed.
Power-play needs to improve. Considering the Bruins tend to find themselves in plenty of one-goal games or tight affairs, they need to get their power play going. Boston was 0-for-4 Thursday and that made a difference in another hard-fought, close game. Despite coach Claude Julien putting a heavy emphasis on the man-advantage at practice Wednesday, the Bruins couldn’t seem to generate any chances on the power play. They have now scored only two goals on their past 17 power plays. If the Bruins are to squeeze out some victories in these close games, then they need to start scoring on the power play.
Old nemesis Theodore comes back to haunt the Bruins. Many Bruins fans cringe when they hear Jose Theodore’s name and they were probably doing so again after the former Montreal Canadiens netminder came into TD Garden and stonewalled the Bruins again with 35 saves Thursday. Theodore is two teams removed from his Montreal days but when he was a Hab, he stole two playoff series, including in 2004 when he led his team back from a 3-1 series deficit and shut the Bruins out in Game 7 at TD Garden to complete the improbable comeback. The 2002 Hart and Vezina Trophy winner may be a backup to Nicklas Backstrom in Minnesota but he still has it every time he plays the Bruins.