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Friday, January 8, 2010

Party on Wayne, Party on Garth

By attending last night's Bruins-Blackhawks game at the TD Banknorth Garden, I was able to see what a Stanley Cup contender looks like up close.

Chicago (31-10-3) fell behind 2-0 less than halfway through the first period but didn't flinch as they rattled off five straight goals en route to a 5-2 win.

The Blackhawks came in the with the NHL's best record and it was quite refreshing to see a team that can roll out four solid lines, defensemen that can skate and love to join the rush and strong goaltending. In short, while I was obviously rooting for the Bruins (22-14-7), you have to appreciate greatness and I wouldn't be surprised if the Blackhawks make it even further in the playoffs than last spring (Western Conference Finals). This was a case of the Bruins simply not having the horses to match up with another team.

The game got off to an ominous start for Bruins fans as top-line center (and the only above-average offensive player) Marc Savard crumpled along the boards and left the game with a leg injury. He'll have an MRI today.

Blake Wheeler continued his superb play of late as he tipped home a Derek Morris shot for a power-play goal and a 1-0 Bruins lead. Johnny Boychuk also assisted on that strike.

The good vibes continued when new guy Miroslav Satan scored his first for Boston, a snap shot from in close on Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi (19 saves). Wheeler assisted on that goal. It was much earlier than usual but the Bruins' two-goal ceiling had been reached and therefore the remaining 52 minutes were quite predictable.

Duncan Keith, a fantasy stud and one of the NHL's best defensemen cut it to 2-1 with a laser slap shot from the point. Before the first period was over, Chicago tied it up as fourth-line forward Tomas Kopecky scored on tic-tac-toe passing.

Two more goals in the second period by the Blackhawks (Andrew Ladd tapping one in after Boychuk couldn't clear it from the crease and a screen shot by Keith) led to Tim Thomas (20 saves) getting the hook from Claude Julien in favor of Tuukka Rask. It wasn't Thomas' fault but it was probably best to save him from further damage. The game was over at that point.

After the burst at the beginning of the game, Boston failed to have almost any other quality scoring chances (getting outshot 36-21) and Patrick Kane stopped beating up cab drivers for a minute to score one last goal for Chicago late in the third period.

The B's host the Rangers tomorrow afternoon and Savard has already been ruled out, meaning his injury is probably very serious. Ugh.

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