Bruins Accomplish Goals in Absence of Marc Savard and Milan Lucic


November 21, 2009

Bruins Accomplish Goals in Absence of Marc Savard and Milan Lucic It wasn't pretty — in fact it was, at times, downright ugly — but the Boston Bruins have scrapped their way into second place in the Northeast Division.

After a quiet October in terms of scheduling, the Bruins made no bones about the importance of the month of November. Playing without Marc Savard and Milan Lucic, the Bruins would play 10 games in the first 20 days of the month.

That period had its ups and downs, but it ended with the Bruins scrounging together back-to-back wins on the road on consecutive nights. One came via shootout, the other via an overtime goal.

"For a team that played two games in two nights, and against two really good teams, I thought we handled it well," Claude Julien told the Boston Herald after Friday's 2-1 win over the Sabres. "We battled hard. We needed this. We're a little behind now as far as our expectations. We know we have to play better. We had committed ourselves to really playing well on this trip. Hopefully, we can build on this."

Building on the wins will get a little easier on Monday, as Savard has said he hopes to return to the lineup. Lucic has already made his impact felt with the Bruins' lone regulation goal on Friday, and the addition of Savard will solidify the four lines that have been in flux since both forwards were placed on injured reserve in October.

When the B's lost Savard and Lucic, the realistic hope for the Bruins was to hold their ground in the middle of the pack and remain in good position to make their run in the winter. They've done a bit better.

Facing some truly tough competition, the Bruins went 7-4-4, picking up 18 out of a possible 30 points. It wasn't the type of performance that became typical of last year's team, but considering the circumstances, it's as good as this team could have been expected to do.

They will finish November with four games in six days next week. Barring an unexpected setback, Savard will be back, as will Tim Thomas, who missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury. In Thomas' absence, Tuukka Rask has filled in rather well. He made a number of crucial saves on Friday night, finishing with 25 saves on 26 shots. The night before, he came up with 32 saves before stopping all three Atlanta attempts in the shootout.

"Every game, [Rask] has gotten better and better," Julien told The Associated Press after Friday's game. "We're in real good shape there, when you've got a young goalie like him coming up big for us."

The stats of both Rask and Thomas are amazingly similar:

GAA: Rask, 2.31; Thomas, 2.33
Save percentage: Rask .917; Thomas .918
Record: Rask, 5-2-1, Thomas, 5-6-3

Though the Bruins aren't happy to see their No. 1 goaltender suffer any injury, it helps when his backup has proven to be capable in his first full season in the NHL. But the Bruins, and Rask, still aren't content.

"This is exactly what we needed: back-to-back wins against tough teams," Rask told the Herald. "We've got four points in two games, and two games left [on the road trip] against tough teams. We're not finished yet."

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