Concerns all B's-wax

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 4:52 PM ET

 MONTREAL --So far, the pre-playoffs concerns about the Boston Bruins have proved to be mostly unfounded.

 Concern No. 1 was that Joe Thornton would not be able to play. To this point, that one is a sawoff.

  Thornton is indeed playing despite an ailment the club is attempting to shroud in typical playoff obfuscation.

 According to the official line, it's an "upper-body injury." According to sources close to the situation, it's a separation of cartilage from a rib, an injury that normally requires a layoff of four to six weeks.

 So Thornton is in the lineup, but what he's doing out there couldn't really be classed as playing by the elevated Thorntonesque standards.

 He and his linemates, Glen Murray and Mike Knuble, normally dominate the proceedings. But in the two games so far, that line has been a non-factor.

 Knuble has a goal he scored on a power play with different linemates, and that's the only point the entire line has racked up in the Bruins' two victories over the Montreal Canadiens.

 But because Thornton is there, the Canadiens checkers have to give the line top priority, thereby making life easier for other aspects of the Boston offence.

 Concern No. 2 had to do with 18-year-old rookie Patrice Bergeron.

 If Thornton couldn't play, Bergeron would have to take his place on the top line. But wherever Bergeron played, there were doubts as to the impact that could be made by someone of such limited experience.

 That concern has been sent off for recycling. Bergeron has been consistently dangerous and his line (with Sergei Samsonov and Mikael Nylander) has been involved in all five Boston goals in the series.

 Bergeron, himself, scored the overtime winner on Friday to give the Bruins a victory that, on the overall course of the play, they probably didn't deserve.

 "What amazes me the most is his understanding of the game," said Bruins coach Mike Sullivan. "He sees plays develop out there before they happen. For most of us, it takes a couple of hundred games to start to figure that out. He seems to have figured that out already."

 Concern No. 3 had to do with another rookie -- goaltender Andrew Raycroft. He had been outstanding all year long and is a virtual shoo-in to win the Calder Trophy. But could he do it in the playoffs when the pressure rises and the intensity increases?

 One goal allowed in two games should answer that question. There's also the fact that in two lifetime playoff games so far, Raycroft has picked up his first post-season shutout and his first playoff overtime win.

 Still, to impartial fans watching the game on Friday night, that second achievement did not seem to be assured as regulation time wound down.

 The expectation, based on the flow of the game and Habs goalie Jose Theodore's history, was that the Montreal defence would be a brick wall and eventually, the Canadiens would win.

 But it was not to be. Raycroft made a couple of brilliant saves to send the game to overtime, then Theodore was beaten by Bergeron.

 To his credit, Theodore came out to face the media and answer the tough questions in two languages. But the fact remains that he should have made the save.

 Raycroft wasn't gloating or even cocky. "I just think back to the bus trips in Providence," he said. "I spent three years in Providence. I'm not going to get a big head over any of this. I know how hard I've worked and how easy it can go away on you."

 Three concerns. Two unfounded. One a toss-up. No wonder the Bruins are ahead in the series.


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