Game day VS. the ST. Louis Blues....AKA; welcome back Vladdy night. Vladimir Sobotka is one of those guys that, even in a very brief Bruins career made quite a name for himself. He quickly developed a cult following, thanks to his constant hustle, energy and willingness to hit anything that moved. Even if everyone seemed to be a foot taller and fifty pounds heaver than himself. But what shouldn't be lost in all of that physical play is the fact that the kid is one of the fastest guys around. He also, in my opinion, has loads of untapped offensive potential. That's not to say he's ever going to be a number one center, or be a 30 goal man. But in the right situation, I could see him approaching the 20 goal mark fairly regularly. Unfortunately for his personal stats, he's yet again on a pretty good team, with good depth. So he'll be limited to fourth line minutes, playing with fourth line caliber wings. Although, if he remains playing with Matt D'agostini, they could form a decent combo. Certainly plenty of speed for a fourth line. Having BJ Crombeen riding shotgun with that pair adds some much needed size. Needed because SOB is definitely going to get under the skin of plenty of players this year, so Crombeen will have his hands full protecting the little fella (think Shawn Thornton & Brad Marchand).
As far as the rest of the Blues, they're playing extremely well in front on last season's prized off season signing, Jaroslav Halak. As you look at their crop of forwards, it's obvious they provide some serious match up issues. Their depth is impressive. Boyes, MacDonald, Backes, Perron, Oshie,Steen....all dangerous. On the back end, they're led by Eric Brewer, Baret Jackman and Eric Johnson. All big bodies, but not the most experienced group in the league. All quality younger players though, so take nothing for granted.
But things really begin and end in net for them, and Halak has been beyond impressive. Finally out of the shadows of "Jesus Price", and the nonsense of the Canadiens franchise, Halak is proving that last year's playoff performance was no fluke. In 9 games, he has a 1.53GAA and a .940 save%. Not too shabby at all. He's a likely Vezina candidate this year, along with our own Timmy Thomas of course.
Thoughts on tonight's game
Losing last night against the Caps should have come as no surprise. I certainly expected a better effort over the first 40 minutes, but I was impressed by the comeback attempt in the third. That "should" bode well for tonight. That effort has shown me that this Bruins team has more heart and pride than perhaps they displayed last year. I fully expect a better start to tonight's game, and if they lose, I doubt it will be because of effort.
It's expected that Tuukka Rask will get the start tonight. He, for his own state of mind, needs to have a good game. Even in a loss, if he plays up to his standard, that will go a long way towards getting him back on track. Of course, the team has to play better in front of him than they have the last couple times out. Having said that, I think he and the team all show up tonight. I'm feeling a 3-1 Bruins win, with Recchi, Bergeron and Chara getting the goals for Boston. And what the hell, I'm seeing Sobotka getting one for the Blues (which would be his first point of the season).
While the Blues aren't looked at as an overly "rough & tumble" team, they certainly have plenty of guys willing and able to throw 'em. BJ Crombeen, Brad Winchester and Cam Jansen are all more than capable fighters. Jansen (when healthy) and Crombeen being the primary tough guys, despite Winchesters size (6'5,230lbs). I don't see any way, after last night's stinker, that Thornton doesn't try getting the boys off to a quick start tonight. Look for Shawn to get the ball rolling early, probably grabbing Crombeen within the first shift or two. Winchester almost certainly will try to get involved as well, and it may be down to a Mark Stuart type to deal with him. I'd say Lucic, but not sure how often those two will be on the ice together.
So, welcome home SOB. There are plenty of us here that miss you, and wish you well. Just not TOO well tonight.
Just skate your wing,