The Bruins dominated the Sabres on Saturday 3-1 in a swift and nearly penalty-free game that saw some brilliant offensive plays as well as a 32-save night for Manny Fernandez. After Thursday's stellar 5-2 win over Toronto, the Bruins now have 6 wins in their last 7 games. They're currently tied with Buffalo for first place in the Northeast Division with 19 points thanks to the Sabres falling to the Thrashers in OT on Friday and the Habs dropping games to both the Jackets AND the Leafs. This is a big month for divisional play, and it's awesome to see the Bruins stepping up their game... especially as we head into a week stacked with match-ups against old-school rivals Chicago, Montreal, and New York (who has 23 freaking points on the season. Eep!)
As long as we're talking hockey, by the way, allow me to introduce you to my new favorite non-Boston hockey player. Here he is:
His name's Steve Mason, and he was the league's top goaltending prospect until last week, when he got summoned up to Columbus to take over the net after Pascal Leclair got injured (Pazzy injured? What a shocker...). Three games later, Mason is now 3-0 in his professional starts, with victories over Calgary and Edmonton as well as a stunning 4-3 victory over Montreal on Friday night (suck on that, Carey Price). His play was enough to earn him accolades as NHL Second Star of the Week in his first week of professional play (behind Vancouver goalie/captain/all-around badass Roberto Luongo, who had 3 freaking shutouts this week).
Naturally, I am head over heels for this lanky Canadian (he's 6'4" but has great lateral movement despite having only recently recovered from knee surgery). This, of course, means that we will absolutely face the Blue Jackets in the Stanley Cup finals this year and I will subsequently be forced to renounce my adoration of him. Sad! For now, though, keep your eye on Mason as he continues to shine in goal for Columbus.
Back to the Bruins!
The Good: In last week's Roundup, I heaped praise on Tim Thomas for his continued excellence between the pipes. This week, though, it's worth noting that Manny Fernandez stepped in on Saturday and absolutely outplayed Buffalo's star goalie Ryan Miller, turning in a positively Thomasian performance by blocking 32 of 33 shots on goal. The final word on Thomas is that, fantastic as he sometimes is, he's woefully streaky and prone to collapse. (Seriously, people, have we ALREADY forgotten that game against the Capitals last year?!) Having Fernandez ready to step in and bring it at any time means serious breathing room for the Bruins in a division that contains 3 of the league's top 5 goalies (Thomas, Price, and Miller). This week's other recipient of the Can Drink My Milkshake Any Day Award, natch, is Blake Wheeler, who memorably notched his first career hat trick just 13 games in against Toronto on Thursday.
The Bad: Two decisive divisional victories this week make it tricky to find something to bitch about. Still (and I doubt I'm alone in this), I'm worried by how many shots these Bruins are letting their opponents get off per game. Sure, we're 6-1 over our last 7 games, but we let opponents average over 33 shots a game throughout those 7 games and were out-shot in 4 of them. Only one of those games (against Edmonton) saw the opposing team fire off fewer than 30 shots, and both Dallas and Toronto were able to rack up 36 shots while Calgary got off a whopping 38 attempts. Seriously, hooray for good offense and all that, but I hope to see the B's making better decisions in the neutral zone and clamping down on play behind the net as the season progresses.
Play of the Week: My oh my, did Chuck Kobasew have a lovely goal against Buffalo in the 2nd on Saturday. Here's the "oh no way oh no he didn't OH YES HE MOTHERFUCKING DID" wrist shot from just past the blue line.
Hit of the Week: Another day, another highlight-worthy hit against the Maple Leafs. Here, Mark Stuart unceremoniously dumps Toronto's Jason Blake into the Bruins' bench:
Bonus video goodness: Here's one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons that I was watching today (I'm home from work with what I think may be the plague). Enjoy!
Update: Now with sexy new NHL.com video thanks to Evan from Stanley Cup of Chowder.