Talking Points: Colin Miller continues improving
Colin Miller has been improving by leaps and bounds over the last couple of months, and he had another big performance on Tuesday night. Miller had assists on a couple of goals including the primary one on Zdeno Chara’s one-timer that gave the Bruins a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and played a strong 16:20 of ice time. But his biggest play of the game arguably wasn’t even an offensive accomplishment as he pulled a puck off the goal line in the first period that turned out to be a goal-saving play. It was a Jay Garrison shot that trickled past Tuukka Rask before Miller steered it away from danger, and it ultimately proved to be the difference in the game with Boston clinging for a slim one goal victory. Miller finished with two assists, a plus-1 rating, two shot attempts, one hit and one blocked shot in the win.
While Brad Marchand had a couple of assists and played a starring role in the win for the Bruins, he also flirted with big trouble on another borderline tripping play against Anton Stralman in the second period. This particular tripping play felt like it wasn’t quite as egregious as the “dangerous tripping play” against Niklas Kronwall last week that ended up costing Marchand a $10,000 fine last week. It seemed more incidental in nature with Marchand making a move toward a puck while Stralman’s leg was in his skating path. But the bottom line is that the league is watching No. 63 pretty closely. It wouldn’t be a stretch for the NHL Player Safety Department to feel like a fine might not be enough after it clearly didn’t dissuade from the Bruins winger doing something very similar on Tuesday night.
For the Bruins it was merely surviving a “meh” first period and fighting back with a couple of goals and a 16-shot barrage in the second period. The two goals finally broke through in the final two minutes of the second period with David Krejci scoring an important swing goal for the Black and Gold with just 0.9 seconds remaining until the second intermission. Once the Bruins took a step forward in the middle 20 minutes, they were able to maintain playing at that level in the third period as well while taking home the victory. The Bruins weren’t perfect by any means during the win over the Lightning, but they were pretty darn good in 40 out of the 60 minutes on a night when pretty much all the NHL teams are rusty.
BY THE NUMBERS
6 – the team-high number of hits for David Backes against Tampa in another physical game where he was trying to set a tone for the rest of the Bruins team.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“Our will to win got better in the second and third period.” – Claude Julien to reporters in Tampa after watching the Bruins rise up and take it from a desperate Lightning club.