Bruins bring Buds to their knees
Lance Hornby, QMI Agency
|Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas crashes into Toronto Maple Leafs' Tyler Bozak as he attempts to make a save in the second period of their NHL hockey game in Toronto November 5, 2011. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)
TORONTO - Some kind of stock market correction seemed imminent in the Eastern Conference and those who invested too much short-term hope in a Presidents’ Trophy for the Maple Leafs paid the price.
The Boston Bruins, under-performing at 4-7, played like blue-chippers and bombed the league leaders 7-0 on Saturday, taking the measuring stick and spanking the Leafs with it. Toronto’s two biggest losses of their four overall this season have come against the Bs, who’ve outscored them 13-2. This week they’ve won consecutively for the first time and are back within nine points of the Leafs with a lot of hockey to go.
“A couple of days off, a big game for us and they kicked our ass, every which way,” winger Joffrey Lupul said. “They’re around last place right now, struggling, and this should be a team you want to bury.”
But it was the Leafs’ first regulation loss at home (5-1-1). To their credit, they weren’t preening feathers or getting too boastful of their 9-3-1 start. They had earned an unlikely foothold on first overall, despite several key figures either hurt or slumping. But in a so-called statement game about how capable they are of keeping their firewagon pace, they crashed and burned. Boston needed just 20 shots to win by a touchdown and the Leafs could not score their way out of this mess.
“The game in Columbus (a ridiculously easy 4-1 win on Thursday) led to this,” coach Ron Wilson said. “The way we were playing was an indication of a team that’s going to let things get out of hand. We were lucky in that game to be ahead 4-0, allowing bad habits to creep in. We had to rely on Ben Scrivens in the third period.”
The rookie goalie’s feel-good story took a wrong turn in Saturday’s second period when Boston scored twice in eight seconds with Leafs’ antagonist Tyler Seguin capping his hat trick. Scrivens’ flew family members in from Alberta for his first home start.
Wilson could be in a pickle as to who starts Tuesday here against the improved Florida Panthers. James Reimer is nowhere to be seen and Jonas Gustavsson had a chance to improve his case in 25 minutes of work, but gave up two goals. Cody Franson replaced Luke Schenn on the blue line, but the seasoned Dion Phaneuf-Carl Gunnarsson pairing was a minus 3.
No doubt inpsired by the lopsided standings and a day-trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame to bask in last June’s title, Boston thumped the Leafs in all facets. Thirteen of the 46 goals Toronto has surrendered this season have been to Boston, and the dreaded Seguin has been in on six of those. Meanwhile, Phil Kessel’s goal rush has now been halted for four straight games.
“I don’t know what it is about (Boston),” Lupul said. “We didn’t compete right from the opening puck drop and that’s pretty disappointing.”
Despite attempts to whip up some enthusiasm for the Leafs’ surge — a pre-game scoreboard countdown of teams from 15th to first — there seemed to be apprehension at the Air Canada Centre. Boston duly applied the worst beating the Leafs have absorbed at home since Florida romped to an 8-0 victory in 2008.
The Leafs’ fourth line scrappers, David Steckel, Mike Brown and, for the first time in six games, Jay Rosehill, took the opening draw when Boston elected to use its energy line with Shawn Thornton. But there weren’t many big hits in the first period and just one penalty. Until Phaneuf started laying the body later on, there was little passion in the Leafs’ effort.
“We made a lot of mistakes tonight that are uncharacteristic of our team,” the Leafs captain said. “You park this one in the loss column and move forward.”
Instead of scoring the game’s first goal as he’d done the past two games, Joey Crabb was in the box on a holding call when Seguin made it 1-0. Boston won the Cup with a terrible power play, but Toronto will be hard-pressed to hold its pace with the last-place penalty kill. The whole ACC heard Seguin yelling for the puck when Rich Peverley threw it across the box to give the Leafs’ unit another black eye.
Seguin showed some great hand-eye co-ordination on the first shift of the middle period when a pass struck John-Michael Liles’ stick and went airborne. Seguin adjusted his grip for a back-hand whack, just below his shoulder to keep it legal. Kessel’s line was out for the next shift, but Tim Connolly lost the draw and Zdeno Chara sent Milan Lucic away for a five-hole breakaway.
That’s eight points in eight games for Seguin against the Leafs, something Kessel was naturally perturbed at commenting on.
“I don’t care,” he said. “How many times are you going to ask about it?”
Unlike recent games against Martin Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price, this was a night for Boston’s Tim Thomas to show some Vezina Trophy form, stopping 25 shots to improve to 17-6-5 against the Leafs with three shutouts.