Boston Bruins v New York Islanders

Taking a look at the Boston Bruins’ recent slide

Heading into late February’s trade deadline, the 2010-11 edition of the Boston Bruins were rounding into the kind of force the franchise hadn’t seen since the Bobby Orr days. Their perfect six-game road trip was their best set of away games since the 1971-72 season, during the days of the “Big, Bad Bruins.”

Yet since a March 5th loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Bruins have just been flat-out bad. They haven’t earned a regulation or overtime win since they beat Tampa Bay 3-1 on March 3rd. Overall, the Bruins are 1-3-3 in their last seven games, with their only win coming via a shootout against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Their 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight might be the lowest point in this rocky stretch of games.

Toronto 5, Boston 2

Vezina Trophy candidate Tim Thomas didn’t make it through the entire game, as he was pulled after Leafs grinder Mike Brown made it 4-1 around the middle of the second period. Thomas allowed four goals on 22 shots while James Reimer continues to be the reason Toronto still has playoff hopes, stopping 35 out of 37 shots.

Joey Crabb scored a goal and two assists and Nazem Kadri scored his first NHL goal (and added an assist) as some of the less integral Toronto players made the biggest impact.

It seems odd to blame a stretch of road games for Boston’s struggles after they made headlines by winning six in a row away from home, but maybe that’s part of the problem. Five of their last six games have been outside Boston, so maybe wear and tear has something to do with their struggles.

There are, however, a few reasons to be optimistic for the future. They still hold a three point lead over the Montreal Canadiens for the Northeast Division title and also have one more game remaining than the Habs. Better yet, they play six of their next seven games at home and eight of their last 11 in Boston overall.

So, obviously, the Bruins should be a little concerned. Being able to roll with the punches is an essential ability during the trying playoff months. Perhaps they remain a stride or two short of true elite status, then.

Don’t be surprised if they flip the script during the home stretch, though. If they don’t, then it’s officially time to get worried.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?