Boston Bruins grind it out without Marc Savard

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Game 2: Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres (Buffalo leads 1-0)

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Maybe I’m in the minority here, but in my eyes, the Boston Bruins have been impressively resilient this season. Just think of all the follies that faced that team. If injuries to key players such as Marc Savard and Milan Lucic weren’t enough, they’ve dealt with the post-contract lulls of players including Tim Thomas.

If you may recall, Pro Hockey Talk (and plenty of other media outlets/bloggers/angry guys on the street) beat up on the B’s for doing very little in what was supposed to be a bloodbath against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 18. After all, a 3-0 flat-line effort was the last thing people expected from Boston coming on the heels of Matt Cooke’s suspension-free hit to Marc Savard’s head.

Lost in those negative headlines is the fact that the Bruins used that negative feedback to make a nice run to the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed. Take a look at the little spreadsheet I threw together that chronicles two different, recent time periods for the Bruins. First, you can see Boston’s tepid performance following the March 7 game in which Savard was injured. Then, notice the way the Bruins used that negative energy from the 3-0 loss, going 8-3-1 to take 17 of a possible 24 points to finish the season hotter than a bowl of chowder.

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More on the Bruins’ scrappy season after the jump.


Look, there’s no secret that the Bruins score about as well as a Satanist at a Bible camp, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are a scrappy bunch who made the playoffs by sheer, grind-it-out effort. As I discussed in the post about Ryan Miller, there’s a chance the Bruins might find it difficult to snap out of their scoring funk.

Still, Boston has reason to believe that there is a goal-scoring light at the end of their snake-bitten tunnel. Hopefully, Savard will come back next year without concussion issues. With the second pick thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins can choose between who’s left in the Taylor Hall-Tyler Seguin debate or go with another promising prospect.

In the mean time, the team showed plenty of grit and determination despite the fact that people counted them out again and again. Sure, it’s not as sexy as dominating the East like they did last year, but count me as one of the impressed few.

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    Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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    After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

    Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

    The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

    Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

    Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

    Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

    Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

    Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

    Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

    Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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    It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

    After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

    Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

    Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

    The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.

    Islanders believe Boyle should be suspended for hit before OT goal

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    Thomas Hickey is involved in a controversial hit, yet the greater debate may revolve around the one he received rather than the one he delivered.

    In the second period, the New York Islanders defenseman connected for a thunderous hit on Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin, which sidelined Drouin for a chunk of Game 3.

    Many believe that hit was legal:

    The Islanders are upset about the Brian Boyle hit on Hickey in overtime, which came moments before Boyle scored the game-winning goal. You can see the full sequence here, with the hit happening around the 50-second mark:

    Islanders head coach Jack Capuano believes that it was a suspension-worthy hit.

    You’re not going to believe this, but the Lightning disagree.

    Boyle clearly didn’t receive a penalty on that sequence, yet one would imagine that the league will at least take a look at that hit.

    Lightning take dramatic OT win vs. Islanders, go up 2-1 in series

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    Brian Boyle was part of the fight before Game 3 even started … and then he ended it in overtime.

    In a Tampa Bay Lightning win in which they just kept rolling with the New York Islanders’ punches, it only seems fitting that Boyle battled to land a big hit and then score the clinching goal for a 5-4 overtime victory.

    This gives the Lightning a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4.

    Also fitting? Boyle landed a big hit on Thomas Hickey, the guy who sidelined Jonathan Drouin for a chunk of this contest.

    That sequence prompted a brief goal review, but it ultimately stood:

    (Was that Boyle hit on Hickey dirty, by the way?)

    Drama was in the air from the beginning, yet Drouin really stole the show when he came back from what some believe was a concussion to assist on Nikita Kucherov‘s last-minute goal, which sent the game to overtime.

    In some ways, this win feels like a microcosm of the Lightning’s season. They keep getting hit in the mouth with injuries and near-injuries, yet they just won’t stay down.

    The Islanders saw three leads disappear in this contest, but one would think that they won’t roll over, either.