|Goaltender Tim Thomas, who allowed just one goal, received help from defenseman Adam McQuaid as the Bruins shut down Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals Sunday. (Ann heisenfelt/Associated Press)|
Defensive approach paying off
The good times are back a-rollin’ with the Bruins, who looked very much like their big and bad selves in a 4-1 road spanking of the Capitals Sunday.
Now, they must build on the good things they did and continue to right the play that had gone wrong for stretches of January and February.
There were few, if any, areas of complaint regarding their game in Washington. Tim Thomas, in net less than 24 hours after manning the crease during a 2-1 home loss to Pittsburgh, was excellent. The only blemish in Thomas’s game was not of his own doing. In the third period, Marcus Johansson banked a shot off Dennis Seidenberg for Washington’s only goal.
Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk, given the task of rubbing out Alex Ovechkin, kept the Capitals sharpshooter off the scoresheet.
Up front, the trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Tyler Seguin, currently the club’s most consistent line, was spared of shutdown duties. Washington coach Dale Hunter, owning the last change, matched sandpaper forwards Matt Hendricks, Brooks Laich, and Troy Brouwer against Bergeron’s line. As a result, coach Claude Julien would have found it difficult to roll out Bergeron’s unit against Ovechkin, Johansson, and Alexander Semin.
But Julien countered by flip-flopping David Krejci and Chris Kelly. Krejci, who had been centering Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley, had gone scoreless in consecutive losses to Pittsburgh and Carolina. By slotting Kelly into Krejci’s position, Julien had a defense-first center to help wear down Ovechkin’s line.
“We talked, as a group of forwards, about getting more involved,’’ said Lucic after Sunday’s win. “It felt like we were today. It was nice to win a game like that.’’
Tomorrow, the Bruins take on the Sabres, who are only a point out of last place in the Eastern Conference. On Saturday, they host Nashville at TD Garden. They will then depart for their longest road trip of the season. They kick off a six-game swing Feb. 15 at Montreal that concludes Feb. 25 in Ottawa.
By then, the roster will most likely feature some additions. The trade deadline is Feb. 27, but management would prefer to add the final pieces before or during the trip to ensure maximum bonding time away from home.
But although Kelly, Peverley, and Tomas Kaberle were complementary pieces last year, Thomas, Chara, and Bergeron helped lead the way. As they proved in Sunday’s win over Washington, a very Bruin-like victory, the three core stars will be crucial during the stretch run.
Caron makes impact
When the Bruins square off against Buffalo, Jordan Caron will be in the lineup for the second straight game.
Caron, recalled from Providence Saturday, played Sunday for the big club for the first time since Jan. 17. Caron skated on the No. 3 line alongside Krejci and Benoit Pouliot in place of Zach Hamill, who was a healthy scratch.
“I think it went pretty good,’’ Caron said. “I think we played a good game. Playing with Krech and Benny makes things easier.’’
Caron was at his best in the first period. In only 3:10 of action, Caron landed three shots on Tomas Vokoun and threw one hit. Caron finished with four shots, second-most on the team behind Tyler Seguin (five), in 11:25 of ice time. Caron gave the third line some much-needed presence.
“Just skating, going in front of the net, and being in the right place,’’ Caron said of the things that made him effective. “With guys like Krech and Benny, it makes things easier. They’re good offensive players. They see the ice pretty well. I was just trying to be in the right place.’’
Hamill on waivers
The Bruins placed Hamill on waivers yesterday with the purpose of assigning the fourth-year pro to Providence.
Hamill can be claimed by any team before noon today. The team would assume the rest of Hamill’s $1,316,667 annual cap hit. Hamill will be a restricted free agent at year’s end. If Hamill goes unclaimed, he will report to Providence.
After Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh, Hamill’s name was taken off his TD Garden stall. Hamill joined the team for Sunday’s game but was a healthy scratch.
Hamill, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2007 draft, was recalled Dec. 9. In his first game following his promotion, Hamill recorded an assist Dec. 13 against Los Angeles. It was the last point he scored. Hamill played with energy and confidence in his first handful of games since his recall. But Hamill faded, as reflected by his 0-0-0 line in the four games leading up to being placed on waivers.
The Bruins were given yesterday off. They will practice today at Ristuccia Arena before traveling to Buffalo for tomorrow’s game . . . After backing up Thomas for the last two games, Tuukka Rask is expected to start tomorrow.