Boston had a 1-0 lead through 40 minutes then allowed four in the final 20 (including an empty-netter), with old Bruin Glen Metropolit outshining former Hab Steve Begin by a wide margin tonight in a 4-1 road win by the Montreal Canadiens.
The only solace for B's fans tonight (and no, the acquisitions of prospect defensemen Steve Kampfer and Rhode Island native Cody Wild don't count) is the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs were even worse, getting tuned in their own building by the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1. The win gives Carolina an eight-point cushion over the 29th-place Leafs, who only have 20 games remaining in their season. 'Canes are winners of six in a row, btw. That's unbelievable when you consider Cam Ward isn't playing for them. The immortal Justin Peters in net for them...don't laugh. He got it done tonight.
Oh, and as if they didn't have enough trouble scoring goals already, the Leafs are rumored to be about to send Alexei Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh for a prospect (Luca Caputi) and veteran softie Martin Skoula, so things are looking good for that pick Boston owns. Again, I can't say this enough- getting into the top-two is huge for the B's, but if the Leafs finish 29th, and then the 28th-place team wins the lottery as Washington did in 2004, Boston will get hosed and fall to the third pick like Chicago did (taking Cam Barker, the very distant third pick after Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin went 1-2)
The Leafs are a bad team...Phil Kessel can't create consistent offense on his own, so if Ponikarovsky goes, then Boston's in good shape, but until the lottery is complete next month, no one can breathe easy (unless Edmonton somehow overtakes Toronto, but they just dealt Denis Grebeshkov to Nashville today, so they're selling off and loading up for the draft- just watch them roll over down the stretch so they can finish last and protect themselves inside that top-two. Not that I blame them...they're bloody awful.)
So where does that leave Boston? Offense is still woeful. Marco Sturm's 19th- on the power play- was all they could get past Carey Price tonight. But, what can Peter Chiarelli really do other than minor tweaking that won't put the team over the top...not when Pittsburgh is out getting Jordan Leopold and Ponikarovsky for non-roster players.
Don't expect any major buys for Boston tomorrow...the asking price for veterans is prohibitive, this Bruins team isn't going anywhere this year, and Chiarelli is better off trying to dump some of the flotsam and jetsam on his roster. Assuming anyone will even oblige him at that.
UPDATE: It's a wrap: 5-3 final Islanders over Blackhawks. HUGE win for the tank. The Isles are one of the teams the Leafs are chasing, so two points to them keeps putting distance between Toronto and their ability to climb out of 29th.
Those Phaneuf and Giguere additions...like I said- great D and goaltending won't win you many games if you can't score. After an initial burst when they arrived, those guys have flatlined of late. Brian Burke robbed Peter to pay Paul on that one. Yes, he upgraded the D and netminding, but at the expense of his middle-of-the-pack offense, that will now challenge Boston for the NHL's most inept crew of finishers. Oh, and what's with Burke loading up on defensemen? Skoula? Are you kidding me? Skoula, who never met a corner he wanted to spend much time in, hasn't topped 31 points in a season and has only eight this year. Skoula is not going to help Toronto's scoring problems. But, I guess Burke had to get some kind of return for his 19-goal man.
Call me crazy here, but if Garth Snow could wheedle a 2nd-rounder out of Ottawa for Andy Sutton, you're telling me that Skoula and Caputi are the best Burke could do for a guy who if he were on the Bruins, would be tied for the team-lead in goals?
Elsewhere, Tampa lost to Philly tonight, so their second-rounder keeps looking good for the B's as well.
I'll have the picks (plus the effect of the Kampfer deal- a conditional 4th either in 2010 or 2011- in the matrix so you can keep tracking it)