Facing a team who had leapfrogged the B's in the Northeast Division standings just two nights prior, the Bruins knew that a crucial two points in the division and Eastern Conference were up for grabs. They took full advantage of their opportunity to improve to 3-0 against Ottawa this season, regaining second place behind in the division in the process.
Tim Thomas proved to be his usual "Timmy" self, posting his fourth shutout of the season by making 29 saves. It's hard to believe this guy took criticism over his previous handful of starts, but the bottom line is that Thomas was not performing up to the Vezina Trophy level that he established last year. On Monday night, Thomas returned to form.
So too did the Bruins top liners, which finally proved to be a successful combination. Patrice Bergeron (the Bruins' best player this season) scored the game-winning goal. Marc Savard set up Marco Sturm for the second goal, and his 10th of the season. Sturm, hard to believe, is the first Bruins player to earn the heralded double-digit goal tally this year.
But it's December, and the B's need more.
There is clearly an offensive drought that began when No. 81 was shipped out of town. Sure, the draft picks that came as a result of The Thrill's departure will help the Bruins in future years, but Boston fans want answers, and they want them now — preferably in the name of Ilya Kovalchuk.
Yes, the Atlanta Thrashers captain will skate into the TD Garden on Wednesday night and make Black and Gold fans salivate. He is as captivating a player as there is, and his shot is arguably the most threatening in the National Hockey League. His 20 goals and 17 assists are impressive. And to top it all off, Kovalchuk is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
But get it out of your heads, B's fans, because Kovalchuk coming to Boston is just not happening.
While Atlanta Thrashers general manager Don Waddell admitted there is a "snag" in his contract extension talks with the star forward, sources close to the Bruins indicate that Boston will not be his destination come the trade deadline, or July 1, for that matter.
It would take a small miracle to bring this sniper to Boston. It would also take a lot of money (Kovalchuk's $7.5 million contract in a declining cap era is not conducive to the Bruins' accounting books), a couple of players (it may cost backup goalie Tuukka Rask, who has been outstanding, or a handful of forwards that includes Bergeron or Blake Wheeler) and possibly a high draft pick in 2010. The Bruins would have to give up a lot — actually, too much — to get one player. And they would have to all but guarantee signing him to a long-term contract come July 1.
Enjoy the scenery of No. 17 on Wednesday night, and bid farewell when he leaves the Garden after the game. Santa's not delivering that package anytime soon, and it's almost certain that you won't see Kovalchuk wearing the Spoked B in the future.