With so much action on the ice, there’s bound to be a few things that you may have missed. So in the latest installment of Off the Boards, we’ll take a look at a half dozen items that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks during the past week.
1. Shawn Thornton has surprised many with his early-season offensive success, as he already has three goals after scoring just one all of last year. The secret to his success? It has to do at least in part to listening to the one instruction every coach at any level of hockey harps on: Getting the puck on net.
Thornton had 34 shots already through 14 games heading into Monday night, second only to Zdeno Chara‘s team-leading 43. Thornton has failed to get at least one shot on goal just once all season, while finishing with five on two occasions. He’s shown some finishing touch as well, most notably on his last two goals when he took the shot while coming in on 2-on-1 breaks, but it all starts with the deceptively simple task of getting the puck on the net. It’s something the rest of the Bruins may want to pay heed to, as Boston had been outshot in seven straight games going into Monday’s contest.
2. Johnny Boychuk is expected to return soon from a fractured forearm suffered on Oct. 23, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Adam McQuaid‘s playing time. McQuaid entered the season as the club’s No. 7 defenseman but has been very solid since getting a chance to play in Boychuk’s absence. When Boychuk comes back, McQuaid (one assist, 14 blocked shots, 0 giveaways) won’t automatically be relegated to press-box duty.
3. Daniel Paille, on the other hand, might want to make sure he gets all his suits back from the cleaners, as he could be back upstairs again once David Krejci is cleared to play. Paille hasn’t done much with his second opportunity after being a healthy scratch for 10 straight games, as he had no points, just one shot and was a minus-2 in his first three games back in the lineup.
4. One area of concern for the Bruins has to be their struggles on faceoffs. Boston ranks 27th in the league, winning just 47.9 percent of their draws. Patrice Bergeron is the only center with a winning record at 52.6 percent. The Bruins’ options are limited with centers Krejci and Marc Savard sidelined, but they need to do a better job on faceoffs, as several of those losses have led directly to goals. Most recently, Tyler Seguin lost a draw cleanly to Ottawa’s Chris Kelly, who dropped it back to Erik Karlsson for a quick goal to open the scoring Saturday in the Senators’ 2-0 win.
5. It’s not uncommon for rookies to hit some rough patches in their first season as they adjust to the NHL grind. Both Seguin and Jordan Caron appear to be hitting such a stretch right now, and it’s a tough time for it to happen for the Bruins as they are already dealing with so many injuries. Seguin and Caron have each been held without a goal for the last six games heading into Monday’s clash with the Devils. Seguin has one assist and eight shots in that stretch and is a minus-1, while Caron also has one assist and just four shots on goal. Caron picked up an assist in posting a plus-1 rating Monday, while Seguin was kept off the scoresheet.
6. Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask have proven to be pretty successful as a goalie tandem. But if they ever needed to look for work outside of hockey, the two netminders would probably be able to make it as a comedy team. With their adjoining stalls in the locker room, they often listen in on each other’s interviews with the assembled media and chime in with one-liners whenever possible. The latest came after Thursday’s loss to Montreal, when Rask explained how one goal “hit the post and my [backside] and went in, so what can you say?”
To which Thomas immediately exclaimed, “You can’t say that.”
Rask, of course, didn’t actually use the term “backside” for that particular part of his anatomy.