Sunday, December 28, 2008

Game day @ Atlanta 12/28/08

The B's continue their 5 game road trip with an afternoon tilt in Atlanta today. And is anyone else as sick of seeing Atlanta as I am? The schedule makers need to be fired. Seems like Boston plays teams in bunches, then that's it for the year. Would be nice if they could spread out some of these meetings, but I guess we don't have much choice. The good news is, the B's are getting to play a lot of the "weak sisters" of the NHL while they're recovering from some injuries. The B's, winners of 7 straight, look to keep the momentum going against a Thrashers team that is, let's say, "struggling" at the moment. Besides Kovulchuk, the Thrashers don't exactly have a lot of offensive weapons that scare you. So look for Chara to be on the ice whenever the Russian star is. The thing that could make this game interesting is the bad blood that has been evident in their last two meetings. With 5 total fights between the two clubs in those 2 games, I would expect to see at least one or two bouts today. Not sure Boris Valabik looks to avenge his beat down by Chara though. I do expect a guy like Eric Boulton to stir it up a but, possibly going after Lucic again, if not Thornton. Chris Thorburn, who apparently lost his mind momentarily and challenged big Z to a bout, is another candidate to go after Lucic and/or Thornton. Sadly, these potential bouts are about I can mention that adds much intrigue to this game. I know, "any given day" and all that. Sure. Atlanta absolutely could beat the Bruins today. Stranger things have happened. But honestly, does anyone expect that to happen? Didn't think so. I see this one being over after a period. It could turn into a laugher after two. I'm going to predict a B's win, with the final score being 6-1. And that's being kind. For some reason, I almost expect more scoring than that for the good guys. If the B's jump out to a big lead early, look for things to spiral into an ugly, fight filled contest. I'll say this for Atlanta and their 'tough guys'; they have some pride and at the very least don't appreciate being pushed around. That's all I've got for now.....kind of a hard game to get all fired up over.

Another game in which the B's didn't exactly bring their A game, but found a way to win. That is what quality depth does for you. The Savard line, despite Savvy picking up a pair of helpers, had a rough night. Not terrible, just not a factor for most of the game. The two other guys that really stood out for not having great night, in my opinion, were Axe and Yelle. Axe especially was shaky at best. Two minor penalties for lazy stick violations. Too many bad passes to count. For the life of me, I will never understand why PJ remains on the top PP unit. With all the skill they have on that roster, throwing out a 'defensive specialist' on your top PP makes no sense to me. Yelle, while not making as many glaring mistakes as Axe, just seemed "off" for most of the night. But in his defense, he's been thrust into second line minutes because of Bergeron's injury. He's much more effective with fewer minutes.
To a lesser extent, I thought Mark Stuart had a shaky night too. It's becoming more obvious (to me) that when Ward and Ference are both back in the line-up, it should be Stuart and Lashoff that sits. Hunwick is clearly entrenched as an every day player. And Hnidy is a much more steady presence back there than Stuart. I still think Stu will be fine, but he's being out played by every other member of the D at this point.
On the plus side of last night's game (they did WIN after all), Wheeler continues to pile up the points. Kid is just in a nice groove right now. Tends to over handle the puck at times, but after pulling off some of the moves he has recently, it's understandable. And Ryder? Boy oh boy, THIS is the Michael Ryder we were hoping for. He's on an absolute tear now. His release is scary good and he's doing a great job finding open ice.
And Tim Thomas, despite having several shots clang off posts, looked much better than in his previous start (yes, also a win). I still say it looks like he's breaking in a new catching glove though. He didn't seem to think he had pucks in his grasp that he didn't last night, but he seemed to swat at a couple instead of catching them. I know, I'm getting picky. But it's just an observation and something worth looking for in his next start.
Go B's-Kynch

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