Hurricanes Puck Talk: Bruins Find No Honey in Raleigh

Bruins are bears. According to the Wikipedia definition, “Bruin is folk term used for brown bears (from the Dutch bruin meaning brown).” Bears are known to love honey. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game confirms that bears do in fact love to eat honey. Sunday afternoon in Raleigh, NC, the PNC Arena proved not to be a honeycomb for the Boston Bruins, as they skated to an overtime shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-1.

Bottom Line on Top

For the second consecutive game, the Hurricanes fourth line provided the initial score, getting the team the always crucial first goal and the lead. This time it was Patrick Dwyer who lit the lamp for the ‘Canes. The assists came from Jay McClement and Brad Malone, as “Patty” was at the net to launch the puck past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

Coach Bill Peters has been banging the “net front presence” drum for quite some time. Dwyer was right there in place to smack McClement’s rebound into the neck. It was the kind of play that a fan sees and wonders why in the world the ‘Canes are mainly only getting one goal per game. Plays such as Dwyer’s need to become routine for Carolina, especially if they are going to grow into a playoff contender in the future.

Goalie war

Both Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask played very well. “Dobby” stopped 19 of 20 shots faced and Rask said “no” to 35 of 36. (Why can’t Carolina get more than one goal if they are firing 36 times at the opposing goalie?) Apparently one reason lies in the play of the elite goal tender Tuukka Rask:

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)
Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask
(Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

Stopping Eric Staal in a goal mouth scrum was just one of the 35 saves for Rask. The Bruins have struggled lately, but Tuukka Rask is still an elite goalie in the NHL. Certainly the Hurricanes have struggled scoring for quite some time. I talked about their “one-goal” dominance in December, after their disappointing 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Sunday, the combination of Rask’s prowess in-goal and the ‘Canes’ scoring woes combined to once again give Carolina a “1” on the scoreboard after regulation.

Fortunately for the Hurricanes, Anton Khudobin was equal to the task at hand and kept the Bruins at bay, holding them to one goal in regulation, also. Khudobin shutting the door on Reilly smith of the Bruins was just one of the confident plays he made in the net:

Hurricanes starting goalie, Cam Ward was able to enjoy a much-needed and well-deserved rest as Khudobin took care of business against the Bruins. Having “Dobby” play up to his potential is a huge plus for the Carolina Hurricanes. It’s great to see him get another win.

Bruins hand in the honey pot

Patrice Bergeron got the Bruins on the board at 14:35 in the second period. A one-timer that Anton Khudobin was simply unable to block. Some shots are just good, as you can see:

The Bruins’ goal tied the game at one. The game would stay tied until the end of overtime. Again, the play of the goalies was a large part of this low scoring affair in Raleigh, but both teams are hurting in the scoring department. Unlike the ‘Canes, the Bruins have not been getting held to only one goal per game, but they have been losing more than the fans in Boston have come to expect. Sunday’s goal from Bergeron was really good, but even he admitted after the game that the Bruins are dealing with frustration:

What’s up with Bugsy?

Last week, I wrote about Brad Malone – “Bugsy” to his teammates. He showed some much-needed heart for his team in a brawl with Brandon Prust of the Montreal Canadiens. In Carolina’s next game, he followed up his newly found fervor with his first goal of the season, scored Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. “Bugsy” promised to shave his beard when he broke the ice and scored his first goal, and he did.

The clean-shaven Brad Malone is fighting, perhaps literally, to stay on the Hurricanes’ roster. Beard or no beard, he mixed it up again Sunday, this time with Gregory Campbell of the Bruins:

Brad Malone is on quite a roll. If he keeps true to the recent pattern, he will likely score when the Hurricanes face the Nashville Predators Tuesday night. His fight with Campbell was really a no-contest, as he clearly had the upper hand in the brief skirmish. If you’re keeping score at home, 88.6% of fans who voted at gave the bout to Malone. Joe Haggerty of Comcast Sports Net agreed:

Regardless of the differing views held by many on fighting in hockey, “Bugsy” has turned it up a notch in showing passion for his team. He has a two-game point streak going. It may make the difference on his remaining on the roster.

Bruins v Hurricanes shootout

The game wound up a tie after regulation and overtime. Shootout time in Raleigh started with the Hurricanes Chris Terry. an unusual move by Coach Bill Peters as Terry is normally not the first name called in a ‘Canes shootout. Jeff Skinner was next. Tuukka Rask kept both Terry and Skinner out of the net. Anton Khudobin kept the Bruins out, stopping Reilly Smith and Torey Krug.

In an unusual move, Eric Stall was skater number three for Carolina. He has had a hot hand lately, and Coach Peters called on number 12. He confirmed his thinking after the game:

“Staalsy has been dangerous offensively and scored a bunch here recently, so he deserved the opportunity to go.”

Eric Staal came through, making it look easy as he approached Rask and flipped the puck over him and into the back of the net. Advantage Hurricanes. The former member of the Bruins, Anton Khudobin dug in against Patrice Bergeron. “Dobby” won, game over:

The Hurricanes have been playing very well on defense. This point can be lost when they are losing. But, they have not been getting blown out. 2-1 games have been maddening, especially when they are the team with the “1.” They will need to keep the strong defense going, especially next week as they face the Preds and the St. Louis Blues on the road, and the Buffalo Sabres sandwiched in-between at home.

The hungry Boston Bruins came to Raleigh looking for a win. They left with one point, so most of the honey stayed in the pot. Their play was really weak on offense. At one point they went nearly 17 minutes in the third period without a shot on goal. They can’t win like that, and the Hurricanes can’t seem to find the net. The answer for Carolina will come if they keep firing and stay strong on defense. Coach Bill Peters summed it up after the game:

“I’m used to it, but I’m not going to accept it. We’re going to push to score. I think once we get into a situation where … we get three one night and four the next, I think we’re going to break the seal and be fine. In the meantime, let’s make sure we’re winning these games however we have to do it. Right now it looks like it’s 2-1.”

The Bruins will have to find their own answers. The team seems to be gripping and uptight. Perhaps Tuukka Rask has the solution:

Having a beer may or may not be the answer for the Bruins. If the Hurricanes keep running into the scoring wall, maybe knocking back a few will help them, too. I don’t really believe that, but it will sure be nice when the scoring well opens up for the ‘Canes. They’ll get their next chance Tuesday night in Nashville.