Saturday, January 10, 2004

Bruins Vex Wings 2-1 OT

Today's 1:00 PM matinee in Boston was an ABC telecast and relatively choppy in flow. But the Bruins capitalized on the Wings' defensive breakdowns in the third period to score two unanswered goals to get the win. Cujo got the start. In the first period, 8 minutes into the game, Kirk Maltby batted a bouncing puck into the open net to give the Wings the early 1-0 lead. The goal came off a neat play in which Steve Yzerman fed the puck toward the net, Ray Whitney got a good shot off that rebounded to Kirk on the far side. Shots on goal were 10 to 8 in Boston's favor, whose main strategy in today's game was to play very conservatively on defense and capitalize on any turnovers. And their Eastern Conference style would pay off in the end. In the second period, the Wings defense made some sloppy passes, creating turnovers and Bruins' breaks. But Cujo rose to the challenge and was often seen sprawled on the ice in Dominik Hasek fashion, on his back scrambling around. The Wings got a few lucky breaks during these scrums near the net, including one time where Cujo was beat five-hole, the puck hitting the back of his leg and going out the other side, Kronvall making the clear. Despite Cujo's solid performance to this point, I knew the Wings felt lucky to still have a 1-0 lead at the end of the second period, with Boston really taking it to the Wings' defense. Shots on goal were 9 to 6 in Boston's favor. In the third period, the Bruins finally capitalized on their system, with ex-Wing Martin Lapointe getting a powerplay goal from ex-Wing Mike Knuble and Brian Rolston. After he got the puck off, Brendan Shanahan high-sticked Marty on the ear, but the play went uncalled. 1-1 tie. The powerplay came off of a uncharacteristic Pavel Datsyuk 5-minute boarding call that also brought him a 10-minute game misconduct. The hit came after a few other hard hits earlier in the game. What was particularly dangerous about the Boston powerplay was the nature of it being a boarding call, meaning the Bruins could keep the powerplay even if they scored. Basically a free 5 minutes of offense. Shots on goal were 13 to 13. In the overtime period, the Wings had a couple decent scoring chances but the bane of their first two periods of play came back to haunt them: the Wings broke down on defense. The Bruins got some pressure on Cujo, and puck came to Joe Thornton on the right circle. He shot it at the net as Cujo tried to gain his position after making a save. Goal. 2-1 Bruins. Shots in overtime were 3 to 1 in favor of Boston, an under-.500 team at home. Hull remains scoreless in 16 games, since Dec. 8, and the Wings powerplay has succeeded only 9 times in its last 80 tries, barely over 11% powerplay percentage. Hull hit the post on a blast from the left circle, but not much else happened for him. Andrew Raycroft proved sharp again in the game, following up his 3-0 shutout of the Wings at the Joe on Wednesday. Another notable was the hustle of Ray Whitney, who at one point had a 2:20 shift, being caught on the ice a bit longer than he wished. He didn't return back to the ice after that shift for some time, even going to the locker room for a breather, maybe to take some oxygen. In a game where Schneider, Lidstrom, and Woolley were highly touted by ABC for their defensive greatness, we saw far too many Boston breaks and odd-man rushes. This was clearly the difference in the game. The Wings had just 1 goal on Raycroft in the two games of the home-away mini series. The Wings get a bit of a break here: there next game is Wednesday versus the Blackhawks 7:30 PM at the Joe. Then they play Friday against the Coyotes 7:30 PM at the Joe, in what could be a matchup against a current-shutout-streak Boucher, who must face the Thrashers, Canucks, and Predators before facing the Wings. It's highly unlikely Boucher can improve his 5 game shutout streak to 8 coming in to Detroit, especially because the Nashville game comes the night before, and Atlanta and the Canucks will probably score on him.


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