Friday, December 5, 2008

A recap, preview & tip of the cap

First order of business is a quick recap of last night's win in Tampa. That my friends, is what TEAM is all about. The B's were playing with not one, not two, but THREE rookie defense men. And allowed ONE goal. Aided by yet another strong performance by Tim Thomas, who held the boys in until they got their act together. But once the B's found their legs and settled in, things went back to business as usual. Incredible that they can lose as many key players as they have and continue to be able to just plug new parts in and keep rolling. Johnny Boychuk didn't look out of place at all. He looked steady, confident and deserving of his call up. He played a nice simple and physical game. Matt Lashoff, despite the fact that I'm still not his biggest fan, had a solid night as well. If he sticks to a simpler game plan, he can be very effective. His offensive upside is obvious, he just needs to remain vigilant in his own end (and that includes knowing when to jump up etc). The rest of the "kids" had great nights too. Phil Kessell continues to impress. His 15 goals are no fluke. The kid can just flat out finish, which was a big question mark for most of last year. What can you say about David Krejci at this point? Another slick move for a goal. His patience with and without the puck is incredible, especially for a young guy. Then add in Blake Wheeler's awareness to set up Krejci's shorty, impressive. As Wheels said in his postgame comments; he probably should have had his own break away off the shot block but he "tripped over the blue line". But instead of panicking and just throwing the puck down the ice like most players would have done in that situation, he simply spotted Krejci and made a nice pass to send him away for the game winning goal. You also have to give props to Marc Savard for giving Kessell the puck at the end so he could score into the empty net. Good set-up man there....feed your scorer as often as possible. Now, on to the Panthers. Last year the home team won every match up between these two teams. Time for Boston to break that trend. These are the games they're "supposed to win". Nothing messes up a hot streak more than losing to teams you're clearly better than. And with the goal tending Florida has been getting, I don't expect any cake walk. With all the injuries on the Boston blue line, this is another chance for the Jay Bouwmeester to the Bruins rumor mill to get cranked up. But I'll say it again: NO THANKS! He's a terrific young player but what you'd have to give up to get him just isn't worth it. As I said before, I'd be more interested to see Nick Boynton come back to Boston but he carries a high cap number, so that's not going to happen either. And now a tip of the cap to... Manny Fernandez Yes you read that right. It's time for a public apology for my bashing in the past of this guy (and I shouldn't be alone with this, you know who you are!) In hindsight, I think we were all a little too harsh on him. It isn't HIS fault he was dealt here while injured. It isn't HIS fault he makes nearly four times what Thomas does. Through it all, he has been nothing but professional. He easily could have become a distraction, but instead he just worked quietly in the background as he recovered from his injury and rediscovered his game. Now that he's playing very very well, he could start making noise about being a number one etc. But instead, all he does is continue to work hard, and praise Thomas. Both goalies are handling this situation great. What could have turned into a "goalie controversy" has instead become a strength of the team. All the players now know that no matter which guy gets the nod, they'll do the job. Now, I could have lived without Manny's earlier comment that "the guys know they have to play their best when I'm in net". But hey, I guess you can't hate a guy for an honest assessment of his own game. I found this comment by Manny from John Bishop's blog on to be refreshing and very encouraging: "Fernandez, however, intimated that it has been gratifying for him to see Tim Thomas continue to succeed and play well. "I'm getting the little details figured out -- just getting my game back," said Fernandez after practice on Thursday morning. "It's been an ongoing process. "But Timmy's been really strong, somebody you can rely on, and it's much easier (to work toward 100%) when the other guy is playing so well. You get more time to get everything in order. "And he's been a great guy to watch, so it's definitely helped my game," he said." These two seem to genuinely get along and are supportive of each other. When I watch the post game congratulations, I always watch to see the reaction of whoever the backup goalie was that night. And EVERY game, they always seem to have a long friendly chat and are all smiles. Nothing phony looking there at all. They've earned each others respect, and both seem to be aware that they each may hold the key for them ultimately winning the big prize. As Bish said, this has shades of Andy Moog-Reggie Lemelin. You have to have a hot goalie to go deep in the playoffs. Boston seems to have twice as good a chance of that as most other teams. Go B's! -Kynch

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