Thursday, December 3, 2009

Perfect Sturm

Marco Sturm made a statement in last night's 4-1 Bruins victory over Tampa Bay at the TD Garden.

The veteran winger, off to a slow start this season after missing most of last year with injuries, tallied a pair of goals against the Lightning, giving him eight on the campaign. Sturm and his linemates Patrice Bergeron (1G, 2A- tied with Sturm for the team lead in tallies) and Mark Recchi (3A) combined for three goals and eight points last night, important because the win helps that draft position in the second round. Boston owns Tampa's pick, acquired in the trade that also brought Recchi to Beantown. I'm sure that 'Bolts GM Brian Lawton (who wore No. 29 briefly for your Black and Gold in 1990) appreciated seeing Recchi play a prominent role in deep-sixing his improved, but not ready for primetime team.

Marc Savard, playing in his first game while the ink on his seven-year, $28 million dollar contract was still drying, tallied with the man advantage in the first period, his 200th career goal. He's the man of the hour in Boston right now, receiving much love from the fans for his willingness to accept a front-loaded ($7 and 5.5 million in the first two years), but overall less-than-market value deal to stay out of the free agent waters to remain a Bruin for what will probably be the rest of his career. The cap hit- a hair over $4 million is a godsend to GM Peter Chiarelli, who keeps his top center still in his prime while retaining the kind of flexibility to be creative in making the team better now and in the future.

It was also a redemption game for Tim Thomas, who gave up the brutal goal with 19+ seconds left in Saturday's shootout win over Ottawa, bouncing back with 39 saves on 40 shots (.975 save percentage) for his seventh victory of the year, pushing the B's to a 14-8-5 record overall. They're back on top of the Northeast Division (third in the East, ninth-best in the NHL) and have a big divisional rivalry weekend with back-to-back games against the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs Friday and Saturday.

Tampa, meanwhile, dropped to 10-8-8, the 12th-worst record in the NHL, meaning that Boston would own the 42nd pick if the season ended today. Not a bad return for Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums, when you consider that the B's still have Recchi helping out the cause (don't look now, but the sometimes maligned vet is third on the team in scoring with 14 points), while neither former Boston prospect are playing for the Lightning.

The Bruins need Sturm to ramp up his production, and for one night at least, he clicked perfectly with Bergeron and Recchi. His speed has always been a going concern for opponents, and his enthusiasm and positivity are always a shot in the arm for his teammates.

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