The Boston Bruins just beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. At home, even.
The B’s got goals from Patrice Bergeron (25), Brad Marchand (33), Ryan Spooner (12) and Loui Eriksson (24) to earn a crucial 2 points and move to 2-0 in March- their toughest month of the season.
Claude Julien was behind the bench for his team’s 36th win of the season which gives him 387 with Boston, good for a tie for the club’s top spot all-time with Art Ross. What a way to get there in style, coach!
More important- they move into a (temporary) tie with Tampa Bay at 78 points, who are currently leading the Ottawa Senators and within two points of division-leading Florida, down 2-1 early to Colorado. Every game, every point is important, as we all learned last year. The victory gives them a tiny bit of breathing room against idle Detroit, building a three-point cushion for third place.
The Blackhawks played last night and started backup Scott Darling, and he at times looked like the No. 2 in Chi-Town, but that should not take away from Boston’s effort- they were gritty, tenacious and overcame a bad goal to Tomas Fleischmann late in the second which cut the 4-1 Boston lead in half.
However, as he did most of the night, Tuukka Rask shut Chicago’s attack down.
Those who want to look for negative things will no doubt find plenty, but I have to say- John-Michael Liles has impressed in his first two games. He skates like his legs are 25 not 35, and he’s always got his head up, looking to advance the puck. He had two helpers tonight but none prettier than the aerial sauce pass he fed to Eriksson, who was chugging right up the middle of the slot to the net. Loui deftly redirected a shot through the wickets to put an exclamation point on the contest. He went from a team that was selling off parts at the deadline after making an admirable push, to a club that is firmly in the thick of things. Even if the Bruins aren’t realistically a contender this year, Liles is playing with the energy and passion of someone who thinks they are.
The B’s get to face the nemesis Washington Capitals next on Saturday, and they’ll have a tough row to hoe. At least backup Philipp Grubauer will be in net and not the “Holtbeast”- Braden Holtby, who truly has Boston’s number and has pretty much owned them since earning his first career NHL win against the Black and Gold.
All you want from a team is pluck…a willingness to get after it and not fold in the face of pressure. The B’s passed their first major test of many this month and the first half of April. They’ll get to take one again agains Chicago on the road before the regular season ends, but at least we know the team has a split.
Now, the Bruins need to bear down and steal some games against playoff-bound opponents and not play down to those looking up at them in the standings.
Like we said- every point is important. This is why they opted to hold onto Eriksson rather than take a less than optimal return. He showed everyone why tonight, but there is much more work ahead.