To most teams, the Boston Bruins are an uncontrollable hockey locomotive. That train seems to hit a wall Wile E. Coyote-style when they face the modest Carolina Hurricanes, however, as their 3-0 shutout gives the lowly team a sweep of the defending champions.
(That’s the first time the Canes swept the Bruins in their franchise history – and that includes the Hartford Whalers era.)
Immediately after the sweep, my first instinct was to say that perhaps the Hurricanes’ traditional attacking style explains why the Bruins struggle so much against Carolina. Looking at the numbers, however, the catalyst for the sweep and the driving force behind Thursday’s game is the same:
The Bruins have no answer for Cam Ward.
The one-time Stanley Cup winner won all four of those games this season, but he really put an exclamation point on that sweep with a 47-save shutout tonight.
Looking at his split stats, Ward has only allowed five goals in those four games against the Bruins, turning aside a stunning 139 out of 144 shots. The Bruins sent 47, 35, 42 and 28 shots in those games but couldn’t even manage a single standings point as every game ended in regulation.
Bigger picture view
Ultimately, this season series only changes so much, but it does bump the Bruins down and give the Canes a little bit to build on. Boston has actually been stumbling a bit in general lately, going 5-4-1 in its last 10 games. Carolina is tied for last place in the East with 47 points and only has 29 contests remaining, so it’s very much a long shot, but the Canes have made some crazy runs before.
If nothing else, they can hang their hats on dominating one of the NHL’s most dominating teams in 2011-12.
Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit
Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.
The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.
Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.
With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.
They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.
Video: An early taste of the Tkachuk-inspired violence in Kings vs. Flames