By Andrew Thompson Follow Me On Twitter @Godwentwhoops
The Boston Bruins knew that it was going to be an important game for them. If they were going to abolish the demons of the past, they’d have to have a commanding performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Black and Gold delivered that with a complete 60-minute performance. With a 4-0 victory, the Bruins are guaranteed a spot in the postseason.
There were certainly doubts along the way. The Bruins didn’t have a reliable backup goaltender for over half the season. Tuukka Rask was often left alone in the crease, and for a while, the B’s chances looked dubious. It took the firing of long-time head coach Claude Julien for the team to see the light.
The B’s promoted assistant coach Bruce Cassidy to be their interim head coach and things began to change in Boston. Younger players were actually encouraged to make mistakes (so that they wouldn’t repeat them). The B’s forward and defensive lines were shaken up to play to each others’ strengths. Finally, B’s backup goaltender Anton Khudobin spent a lot of one-on-one time with B’s goalie coach Bob Essensa.
That sparked one of the biggest changes to the Black and Gold. Khudobin went 6-0 under Cassidy. Having a competent backup goaltender gave the B’s the confidence to shift goalies as needed. Rask got a few games off, and the B’s took off.
Just six weeks ago, a majority of the Boston media had written off the Bruins. They foretold of yet another year out of the playoffs. They spoke of how the team would be ripped apart from top to bottom. They talked about how bad Rask was and how he should be moved or traded.
Thankfully, the twenty-odd members of the team didn’t listen to the media. Rask certainly didn’t he recorded career numbers in Tuesday’s win. Rask earned a career-best eighth shutout with the win over the Lightning. He also put up his 37th win of the year, another milestone for the Finnish netminder.
The team responded in a way that only a Boston team could. The Bruins went on to have a season best six-game win streak. The last time the B’s lost was on March 23, when they suffered an embarrassing 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
It took 80 games for the B’s to secure their playoff spot. Now the Bruins last two games will be crucial as they try to figure out where they’ll end up in the Eastern Conference. Right now the B’s choices are either the second or third Atlantic seed, or the second wild card.
Let’s take a minute to praise the biggest catalyst for change this season. Bruce Cassidy gave the city of Boston a better hockey team. He took a team full of potential and reminded them that the Stanley Cup was only six years ago. He’s also earned the removal of the ‘interim’ appendage to his head coaching title.
The Bruins may not get far in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They may not even make it through the first round. But they got there. They found ways to win long after most of the media told them it was over. (Long after the big guys in Boston media called us bloggers ‘stupid homers’ for supporting them.)
Congratulations to the team for getting to the postseason. Thank you for the fans that wouldn’t listen to the media and ‘repped’ their team. Finally, a big thank you to the big guns of the Boston media. If it wasn’t for you getting things so totally wrong, we wouldn’t be enjoying this playoff spot this much.
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