By Mike Miccoli, Boston Bruins correspondent
If anything, the Bruins’ Thursday night contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets taught us a new phrase to throw around when discussing the B’s season: human error.
Claude Julien used the phrase to describe the call that made me question whether the officials were Rhode Island youth hockey refs or indeed NHL-caliber. Referee Dean Morton must have lost track of whose stick belonged to who in front of Columbus’ goalie, Steve Mason, since he put Milan Lucic in the box with a double minor for high sticking–except Lucic’s stick was by his side for the duration of the scuffle. Oops. Pretty big blunder for a game that was well-fought and closely contested all the way until the call. And as the Senators, Islanders and Flyers all win big games on Thursday, the Bruins suddenly find themselves a point away from being out of postseason contention.
– As per usual, the Bruins weren’t quick to point fingers and blame the officials for the loss. Julien commented on missed chances more than he did on missed calls in an otherwise orderly game. In the locker room, Lucic was asked what his thoughts were on the situation. Calmly, the bruiser acknowledged that he thought his stick was on the ground too.
Wide open, sort of.
Poor, poor Dennis Wideman. Guy just can’t catch a break, though if he could, he’d probably give that away too. In the fans’ eyes, Wides has turned into a mix of jaded past B’s Hal Gill, Brad Stuart and Phil Kessel with a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey whenever he touches the puck. The result? Boos. And lots of them.
Wideman is playing with little confidence and it’s becoming evident to any casual hockey fan who watches him bumble the puck each time it lands on his stick. Julien called out the defenseman in a recent practice saying how Wideman knows he has to play better and up to a higher tempo. Not much changed after Julien’s rant though–Wideman’s first turnover the night led to a Chris Clark netting the Blue Jackets’ first goal. Still, every time Wideman would touch the puck, Boston fans would remind him of their displeasure with his performance. On top of everything, a slap shot from the defenseman deflected off of Blake Wheeler’s ankle scaring B’s supporters straight when the winger went down only to get up after a few seconds. Might be time to give Wideman the ol’ healthy scratch card to bulk up his game.
Ryder set to prove a point?
– Michael Ryder was on fire tonight and it wasn’t just because of his first goal. The winger has been improving his game as of late, scoring two goals in his last five games and providing an assist as well. Not superstar numbers, but for a player who has struggled during the first half of the season, it’s good to see this former 30-goal scorer play up to his potential. Ryder showed some true grit tonight too with a clean, open ice hit on Jakub Voracek in Boston’s zone mid-way through the second period. Voracek skated to the bench, shaken up, only to be upstaged by Miroslav Satan’s unintentional slap shot to the face of Kris Russell. Ryder totaled a team high four shots-on-goal and finished the night with a +1.
Better than bad, but not the best.
– Though the B’s walked away with no points on the night, a lot can be said about the team’s overall performance. The line of David Krejci centering Lucic and Wheeler seemed to be the best of the night with their pressure in the offensive zone and strong cycling on even strength shifts. Although Krejci fanned on an open net in the third period, all three had ample scoring chances against what seemed like the 2008-09 version of Steve Mason.
– Johnny Boychuk logged the second most minutes for the Bruins at 21:04, just two seconds under Zdeno Chara. Boychuk looked like a seasoned NHL-blueliner spending time on the power play and penalty kill in only his 24th game of the season and 29th career NHL game. The Edmonton native is certainly a valuable asset to the team after filling in for Boston’s injured defensemen throughout the entire season.
– In what could have been a monumental fight, Lucic versus Jared Boll ended in a stalemate decision after both challengers got in a few, good hooks. Safe to say that fight of the night around the NHL would either go to the disproportional Carcillo/Gaborik dance-off or another New York doozy, John Tortorella v. Larry Brooks of the New York Post in a classic coach against reporter verbal battle.