Bruins fans got an early Christmas present during Friday night’s game, to the tune of eight goals from the Black and Gold. To cap of the victory, the Panthers were the recipients of a cheerful taunting of “Merry Christmas!” from an excited Boston crowd as the seconds ticked away to a 8-0 Bruins victory.
Coming into the game, the Bruins had three days of rest; the Panthers on the other end played their second game in 24 hours.
The key was getting to the Panthers early, and the Bruins did just that. In total the Bruins scored four goals during the first period, giving them a comfortable lead early in the game. The Bruins offense continued to be dominant throughout the game, scoring eight goals.
But goaltender Tuukka Rask, who was the second star of the game, was equally good throughout the sixty-minutes of play, getting the 10th shutout of his career.
And just how good is Rask? Well, the 24 year old Finn is ranked second in the league in goals-against-average with 1.82 GAA and third in the league with a save percentage of .939.
What makes the Bruins so dominant when it comes to goaltending is the one-two punch of Vezina winner Tim Thomas as well as the talented Rask. There is no two combo in the league that can compete with Thomas and Rask who rank top three in the league with both save percentage and goals-against.
It’s a big time luxury, I’m not going to hide that fact,” said head coach Claude Julien “It doesn’t matter who you put in net right now, you know you’re going to get good goaltending as we speak. Both guys have been at the top of their game, which allows you to put one or the other and the other guy gets a rest and the other guy stays sharp.”
“They’re both very supportive of that approach and they’re okay with it. That just makes us such a better team by having that situation right now. We’re extremely fortunate because most teams in this league don’t have that approach or luxury.”
The only other goaltender in the NHL that is better than Thomas and Rask is the St. Louis Blues’ Brian Elliot, who is having a fantastic season with his league leading 1.52 GAA and .944 save percentage.
It is no secret that good goaltending wins games, last season the Bruins relied heavily on Thomas to keep them in close games. Even though the Bruin were dominant offensively, against the Panthers, solid goaltending goes a long way.
Knowing that they have a solid goaltender in Tuukka Rask gives the offense the opportunity to relax knowing not much is going to get by Rask and allows them to play their game and not have to force any plays.
On the offensive side of things, Brad Marchand scored a hat-trick and only did Marchand light the lamp with three goals, but he also had an impressive two assists on the night.
This brings his season total to a team leading 15 goals.
“I think I’ve just been fortunate enough to play with great players,” said Marchand, “and I just kind of feed off them and get some lucky goals. I never expected to be in [first place I’m top scoring on the team] and I don’t expect to be there long, but it’s a lot of fun being on this team and being in the winning ways right now, so hopefully it keeps going.”
Patrice Bergeron also had an impressive game notching a goal and a air of assists, and defenseman Dennis Seidenberg scored his first goal in 33 games.
“I’ve had four or five posts, and empty net I didn’t hit,” said Seidenberg reflecting on his goal drought, “I’m getting my shots it’s just a matter of getting a bounce here or there to get that lucky goal. Today was the game and hopefully it will keep going.”
Benoit Pouliot, Gregory Campbell, and Milan Lucic also had goals. For the Bruins there impressive winning streak continues into their holiday break. The break gives them time to reflect on their impressive last few months.
“We worked really hard, came to work every day – practice, game, whatever – and stuck to the system,” said Campbell, “It’s fair for us to appreciate what we’ve done but it’s also, realistic to know that we – the guys in this dressing room – know there’s a long way to go and every night’s a fight and you have to compete every night in this league.”