–Johnny Rocket Johnny Boychuk has been terrific since returning from what was called a mild concussion from the hit Chris Neil laid on him. He was solid in his own end tonight, threw a couple monster hits, including a beauty on Thomas Vanek (I think it was Vanek), and scored the game-winning goal on one of his trademark “Johnny Rockets” in the third. The shot was an absolute laser beam, a real water bottle popper. If Boychuk can play like this consistently, he’ll really be earning that new contract.
–Respect Speaking of Boychuk, he, in my opinion, showed some of that respect I was talking about the other night on Twitter when commenting on the hit Niklas Kronwall laid on Jakub Voracek. On the hit on Vanek, Boychuk stood up at the attacking blue line, saw Vanek coming with his head down, and knew he wanted to hit him. So did he pull a Kronwall, and put his shoulder into Vanek’s chin? No. He used his arms to deliver a hit to Vanek’s chest, flattening the Sabre sniper and disrupting the player. Boychuk could have eviscerated Vanek; instead, he laid a big, clean, FAIR hit. That’s what I meant by players showing each other respect. Players need to look in the mirror when discussing head injuries, and realize that predatory hits are a major culprit.
–Magic hands The skill displayed by David Krejci on the B’s third goal was remarkable. Krejci got some separation from the Buffalo defense, took the pass from Milan Lucic, somehow finessed the puck onto his forehand while being whacked at and hooked from behind, and snapped a wrister over the sprawling Jhonas Enroth. Krejci’s shot was perfectly placed, rattling off the post and the crossbar on its way into the net. Just a beautiful goal for the Czech.
–Extend, don’t defend I was talking the other night about the B’s lack of a killer instinct, as they seemed to cling desperately to leads at the end of games lately rather than go for the jugular, the knock-out goal. Tonight, they took a lead in the third period, but kept attacking, increasing the lead to two and winning with authority for the first time in what seems like weeks.
–ZzzZzzZzz This game was a pretty sleepy affair for a while. I was at the game, and the Garden was as lifeless as I’ve seen it in years. The fans can’t be blamed really, as the beginning of this one was kind of a snoozer. Sure, there were chances, but nothing really riveting. It was more of a tight-checking, stick-to-your-man kind of start, something that doesn’t exactly make for gripping theatre. But hey, a win is a win. The crowd sure came to life towards the end.
–Marchand hurt? Brad Marchand had his head rammed into the dasher by Tyler Myers late in the third. He was racing Myers for a loose puck, and Myers tried to rub him out along the boards; seeing the hit coming, Marchand got low to try to sneak under Myers’ shoulder check, but instead got his bell rung for his troubles. He went to the ice and was on all fours for a moment, then skated to the bench. He didn’t take another shift (it was about 14 minutes into the third), though reportedly Claude Julien said after the game that he’s fine. He may have been held out as a precaution, but it certainly wasn’t good to see, especially given the B’s history with concussions.
–Weak, Miller I know he’s played a ton of games lately, but I was surprised to see Ryan Miller sit out tonight. I’m not sure if he petitioned Lindy Ruff to play or if Ruff just told him he was sitting, but it’s weak either way. Miller’s recent numbers against the B’s were great, and one would think he’d want a chance to shut the B’s down in front of their fans in his first game at the Garden since being run by Milan Lucic. Instead, he pulled a Luongo and watched the game from the bench. Weak.
What went right
It’s a cliche, but it’s true: there’s no such thing as a bad shot, and Boychuk’s goal proved it. Jordan Caron dropped the puck back to Boychuk, who had pinched in as far as the face-off dot. Even though there was a sea of bodies between him and the goal, Boychuk wound up and fired anyways. And why not? In that instance, the worst case scenario would be the puck missing the net entirely, rattling around the boards and exiting the zone (or an injury would be just as bad too). Too often, players won’t shoot because the lane isn’t perfect. Boychuk fired it anyways, and was rewarded for it. SHOOT! IT HELPS!
Attaboy: Boychuk. As I said, he’s been excellent since returning from injury, and was at his best tonight.
Providence Shuttle: Miller. Come on. I know you’re tired, but man up and face the bullies in their barn.