E-Mail Subscriptions to the Blog

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Monday, March 03, 2008

Bruins Western road trip brings new element to race

The first-place Providence Bruins invaded the West Division over the weekend. Friday, the Bruins visited the Milwaukee Admirals. The Admirals dropped the game 3-1 on a faltering offense. Outshot by a ratio of more than 3:2, only a power play goal by Alexander Sulzer was able to keep the MAds from being shutout.

The next team to come under the Bruins guns was the Rockford IceHogs. The Hogs, who have been under playing lately, won a very rough game 5-1. 213 penalty minutes were awarded in this game, generating 9 different power plays. Rockford was able to convert two of the six power plays for goals, while the Bruins were unable to convert any of their advantages to goals.

In fact, the Bruins were almost shutout by the Hogs, scoring with just 14 seconds remaining. The list of penalties given out at the 4:56 mark of the third period is astounding. This was basically a line brawl, with a goalie getting involved: 125 minutes for ten players, creating, sadly, not one, not even one Gordie Howe hat trick. Howe sad.
And, where was the fifth Bruin player in this mayhem? What happened to Mike Brodeur that he didn’t step out to tell Jordan Sigalet to sit down and shut up? Does anyone there want to comment on this?

According to the IceHogs, the 213 penalty minutes is a franchise record for the season. Congratulations!

From Rockford, the beat-up Bruins made their way to Chicago for the showdown with the second-place Chicago Wolves. The Wolves took the Bruins 4-1, with an empty net, power play goal capping the loss for the Bruins.

All three West Division teams are looking at the Bruins as a possible opponent in post-season play. The loss by the MAds was disheartening. This was a game against a fresh Bruins, and the MAds fans got to see the Bruins in a condition as close to what we’ll see in post-season as any team.

For the Hogs and the Wolves, it was an opportunity to dominate an Atlantic division team in a tired state. Particularly for the Wolves, this was a must win game. If the result had been different, serious questions would arise about the post-season Wolves.

At the end of the weekend, Chicago ended tied in points with the Bruins. However an earlier point from a visit to Providence and the dominating game in Chicago should put the Wolves in the lead. In the West Division, the Hogs have sometimes been in first place and sometimes in second. They are now 3-6-1 in their previous ten games. Still effected by call-ups to the Chicago Blackhawks, the best hope for the Hogs is the promise of another early end to the Blackhawks season.

Two points back lie the San Antonio Rampage. The SAR have made a great run for second place in the last few weeks. They are 4-3-3 in the last ten games. A visit from the Wolves last week ended in a split and the Rampage haven’t played since. Their next game is against the Bruins, later this week.

The Milwaukee Admirals took advantage of a Chicago Wolves effort to give Ondrej Pavelec a rest in anticipation of the Bruins game, picking up two points and embarrassing the Wolves at home. However they’ve fallen behind the Peoria Rivermen in points, and the Rivermen, who took four points over the weekend, have a game in hand.

Riverman Martin Kariya, BTW, scored three points in the 4-3 win on Sunday over the IceHogs.

Houston hasn’t played since February 27th. The next game for them is against Providence on Tuesday. They have a nine game home stand, which ends with a trip to SAR, then two more games at home. Almost the entire month of March, in other words, is played at home. The Aeros have 67 points, tied for sixth place and just three points behind the fourth place Rivermen, with three games in hand.

No discussion of the West would be complete with a look at the fourth-place North Division team. As noted before, the fifth-place West Division team may move to the North Division in the playoffs, if the West Division team has more points at the end of the regular season. The Syracuse Crunch are on a three game roll. As a result, the Crunch have made it more difficult for the West Division team to move over. Still, the advantage is with the West. The fifth-place Milwaukee Admirals have two points and a game in hand over the Crunch. The sixth-place Aeros are two points behind the Crunch with five games in hand over the Crunch. Likewise, the seventh-place Flames are two points behind the Crunch with two games in hand.

Predictions are always dicey and interesting. Given the current status, the next few weeks should see the Aeros and the Rampage making a run. The Wolves should solidify their first place position.

In the West, we’ve never seen much of the Atlantic Division teams. They like to stay close to home. The road trips this week of the Hartford Wolf Pack to Texas and the Providence Bruins to the Midwest and Texas will demonstrate their ability to play in the post season.

No comments: