Not many people would've predicted that the Bruins would dominate the Hurricanes in every aspect of the game last night. Much like the playoff series last year, many folks expected this game to be a tough and gritty defense that showcased good goal tending, great defense and tooth-jarring fights.
We got that, albeit, from only from one team.
After the terrible performance during the Bruins home opener against Washington, Boston needed to come out and establish themselves as the team everyone saw finish number one in the Eastern Conference last season.
If you read my Carolina/Bruins preview, there were three keys to the game that I felt needed to happen for the Bruins to win.
Bruins Keys To Winning:
1. An effective power play unit. - The Bruins had 5 chances at the power play and they mustered 1 shot on goal. That's absolutely pathetic. If you expect to win in the NHL, you need to have an effective power play unit so teams are fearful of making a mistake.
*Both power play lines were outstanding last night. The Bruins went 4/8 on the power play with Hunwick, Savard, Ryder and Wideman all contributing to goals. What both lines did differently compared to Thursday was move to puck in the zone and more importantly move without the puck. Savard's goal happened because he was moving without the puck and had a great opportunity.
2. Better defense. - The Bruins have one of the better defensive groups in the NHL, but this isn't just about those six. The play that sticks out in my mind is where Ovechkin out muscled Milan Lucic to score for the Capitals. You need all 5 skaters on the ice playing defense at a high level. A good defense leads to a good offense.
*Last night the Bruins played a good physical game and the defense from every player was in good to high quality. They limited shots on Carolina's power play and shut down players who killed them in the playoffs like Samsonov, Larose and to a lesser extent, Staal. Like I mentioned, the Bruins have one of the best (if not the best) defensive group in the NHL and they showed it last night.
3. Hit the net! - I'm not talking about the number of shots on goal, because if you're playing fundamental hockey, those will come. What really pissed me off on Thursday night was watching the seemingly tens of shots (in good scoring chances) miss the net. I believe Ryder had 3 of them alone. If you want to win, you have to capitalize on scoring chances.
*There isn't much to say about this one. The B's capitalized on their opportunities.
Seven different players (Savard, Ryder, Wheeler, Wideman, Hunwick, Sturm and Thornton) scored goals for Boston and thirteen Bruins ended up on the score sheet (which ties last season's highest total).
The Bruins next game is against Anahiem on Thursday October 8, 2009 at the TD Garden.
"This city is such a great sports town, you want to be part of it for a long time...it's been a great experience."
-Milan Lucic during his press conference (10/07/2009)
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