Don’t look now but your Boston Bruins are in first place in the Eastern Conference (temporarily at least, Pittsburgh plays the Caps tonight with a chance to leap back in front). After stumbling out of the post-Olympic gate, the Black and Gold have rattled off five straight wins, including a pair of victories this weekend against the Lightning and Panthers respectively. And while their busy month of March continues with 11 games in 21 days remaining, the team is hitting its stride at just the right time with the playoffs around the corner. Let’s take a look at what is going right.
It was a mere two weeks ago that NHL star Steven Stamkos suffered a broken right tibia after an ugly collision with the goal post during the second period of a 3-0 loss to the B’s at TD Garden, a tough blow to a Lightning team that was atop the Eastern Conference at the time. After undergoing surgery a day later in which a metal rod was inserted in his leg to secure the bone, the projected timetable for Stamkos’ return was more than a few months. Even beyond the blow to the Lightning, Team Canada also took a potential hit as Stamkos was pegged as one of the top players on the roster ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Well some of those fears were put to rest this morning, when the 23-year-old Stamkos WALKED into a press conference WITHOUT the assistance of crutches.
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
After an unimpressive effort that required a last minute goal to earn a win on Thursday against the Panthers, the Boston Bruins understood that they would have to be far better against a Tampa Bay Lightning squad who had won five of their last six games. On top of that, Tampa netminder Ben Bishop hadn’t lost yet this season and hadn’t given up more than two goals in any of his four appearances, not great news for a Bruins team that was having some difficulty finding the back of the net. But in a sign that perhaps this year’s team is finally starting to come together and click, Boston exploded for five goals last night at the St. Pete Times Forum to top the Lightning 5-0. Twelve of 18 Bruins had a point in the effort, and Tuukka Rask stopped all 23 shots he faced to earn his first shutout of the season.
Well, it was going to happen at some point. Reports out of Sunrise, Florida today have Tim Thomas getting the start tomorrow night in goal for the Panthers, the first time the former Bruin will face his old team since departing at the conclusion of the 2012 season. The Bruins made the jump down to the Sunshine State today where they will take on the Panthers tomorrow night before making the short trip to Tampa for a rematch with the Lightning on Saturday evening.
It wasn’t perfect by any stretch but the Boston Bruins kicked off the 2013-14 regular season tonight with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic, and Patrice Bergeron did the scoring for the Bruins while Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots in the Boston net to earn the win.