Saturday, March 6, 2010
B's finally grinding out wins
By Matt Kalman
Once a source of major despair for the Bruins, one-goal games have become an outlet of glory of late.
That trend continued Saturday afternoon with a 3-2 road victory over the New York Islanders.
When you’re the worst offensive team in the league and your defensemen, after your top two, turn over the puck so much you’re not sure which team they’re playing for, you’re going to have to grind out victories. And the Bruins have suddenly found the knack to coming out on top when not playing their absolute best.
The Bruins, who have won six of their last seven overall, have now won their last five one-goal games and have improved to 15-20 in games decided by one score. Previously, they had lost seven straight games decided by a single goal.
The biggest key to winning close contests, of course, is solid goaltending. In two straight games now, Tim Thomas has proven that Boston is surely a two-netminder team. He was under assault throughout the last two periods against the Islanders and finished with 37 saves. It looks like Tuukka Rask will have some competition when he’s back from injury.
Boston’s turning of the tide in shootouts has also been a major boost.
Hard work, as the Bruins proved two years ago in reaching the playoffs as an eighth seed, is another factor that can be the difference in winning and losing tight games. Even if their scoring touch is still elusive, the Bruins have at least started to play with the grit they always claim is part of their fabric but don’t always display. It has been particularly evident in the offensive zone and was reflected on Milan Lucic’s goal at the end of a long shift and Marc Savard’s score -- which proved to the be the game-winner -- when he was going hard to the net and was the benefactor of a funny bounce off the glass.
There’s no telling how long the goaltending, hard work and league-leading penalty kill (the prevention of a New York goal for an entire five-minute major was also a highlight of the Bruins’ victory) can continue to aid the Bruins in their efforts to win despite some of the sloppiest defense in the league. Maybe head coach Claude Julien will start to lean on Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg for even more minutes if the other four don’t emerge from their funk.
It looks like we’re in for weeks worth of more one-goal games. Fortunately, the Bruins have figured out how to come out on top when there’s little margin for error.