As expected, the Boston Bruins took care of business at home tonight, all but erasing the memories of their putrid showing in Montreal Friday with a 7-2 thrashing of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Marc Savard tallied his third career hat trick (giving him eight markers on the season in 14 games), Tuukka Rask played very well (31 saves, 1 assist) despite giving up a pair of goals late (not really his fault). Patrice Bergeron continued his sublime play in all zones, going coast-to-coast on the power play to leave the puck on the doorstep for Mark Recchi to bang home, making it 5-0 early in the third.
It was a forgettable night for Phil Kessel, who was a -3 and was was booed by the home crowd every time he touched the puck. In the third, the boo-birds changed tactics and derisively taunted the forward's name. Hey- not a big fan of poking the sleeping bear with a stick, myself, so we'll see what happens when the venue shifts to Toronto next week. Kessel was a good player for the Bruins who did what a lot of guys do: treated his situation like the business it is. I don't think his treatment by the Boston crowd was necessary, but I understand it. We'll see him quite a bit, and I do know this: sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you. Kessel will gain the upper hand at some point, just as he came out on the short end tonight. (Hey, Kirk- enough with the bear references, eh?)
This game had a little something for every hockey fan: skating, scoring, hitting and fights. Shawn Thornton more than held his own against Toronto tough guy Colton Orr (what's with the porn star 'stache, Colt? Shave that disgrace growing on your upper lip soonest, please). Mark Stuart and Steve Begin both fought Jamal Mayers, who earned decisions (IMO) over the Boston players.
But- this was a big point swing for the B's. It put them back on top of the Northeast Division for thanks to the New York Rangers' 2-1 win over their cross-state rival Buffalo Sabres, and kept Toronto down in the standings (who had quietly crept within four points of tying the Broadway Blueshirts). Oh, and Carolina posted a rare win today (against Vancouver), giving them 17 points on the year- six behind the Leafs. Other teams like St. Louis, Florida, Edmonton and Minnesota all put some distance between themselves and the Leafs as well.
Getting back to the game- you just had this feeling that the Bruins were going to come out hard after the Habs mopped the ice with them, and unfortunately for Toronto, they got the kind of goaltending you'd expect from Joey MacDonald. He didn't lose the game for them, but he's not the kind of talent who was going to steal the kind of game his team needed given their own mediocrity tonight.
Now, the the bad news: Dennis Wideman left the game in the second period with an undisclosed "upper body" injury.
B's have some time off before their next one, so fans should have some time to enjoy this one. They can continue to energize the Tank Nation, and be pleased that their boys responded as needed.