Monday, March 15, 2010

Devils Walk All Over Bruins in Victory

By: Tim Brennan

The Bruins came into Prudential Center wanting to prove that they can be a playoff team and that they will do whatever it takes to clinch a spot. The Devils wanted to bounce back after a poor performance against the Islanders on Saturday and are looking pretty good playoff picture wise. The result? The Devils dominated the Bruins in every aspect of tonight's game.

Right from the beginning, the Devils pounced on the Bruins and decided that they were going to make an example of them by pouring on the goals in the first. After eight consecutive shots from the Bruins, the Devils created some chances, leading to an offensive zone draw. Almost immediately, Martin Skoula gained control of the puck, slid a pass over to a breaking David Clarkson and Clarkson's shot re-directed off of Rob Niedermayer, who was stationary in front of Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas. The first period dismantling would continue when Zdeno Chara flipped a puck on Martin Brodeur, which he gloved down and sent a stretch pass that lead to a breakaway by David Clarkson, who ended up scoring to give the Devils a 2-0 lead. Less than a minute later, Zach Parise tallied to give the Devils a resounding lead. This resulted in Tim Thomas being chased from the game, having given up 3 goals on 12 shots.

The Devils forwards were phenomenal in pressuring the Bruins defense into countless turnovers, with the most being from Dennis Wideman, who hasn't played anywheres near as well as he did last season. Although the Devils controlled the second period as well, the Bruins were able to get on the board after defenseman Mark Stuart flung a shot from the side boards that was eventually deflected by forward Blake Wheeler to bring the game closer.

The third period was a tale of two teams as the Devils continued to shut down the Bruins in the first half of the stanza but started to crumble in the second half and let the Bruins right back into the game in the closing minutes of the game. After a Mike Mottau delay of game penalty, the ensuing powerplay showed a shift in power as the Bruins peppered the net and got a late goal from Patrice Bergeron. Brodeur had to be sharp in the final minute as the Bruins threw anything and everything on the net, trying to tie things up to get a point instead of going home empty handed. The Devils were triumphant, coming out on top 3-2 but for the most part outplayed and outworked the Bruins.

The one player who shined in tonight's game and was mentioned throughout the broadcast was Devils winger David Clarkson. Clarkson was all over the ice pressuring the defense, taking the body, and getting scoring chances and was deservedly the player of the game. He tallied a goal and an assist, which is something that the Devils had been expecting from him. In an article for my former blog, Metro Hockey, I stated that Clarkson should focus on honing his offensive skills more so that he can become a larger contributor instead of trying to be an agitator and fight, which usually doesn't turn out well. Clarkson showed tonight that he can be a player who can hold the game on the tips of his fingers. Usually that would be reserved for Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise or sort of newcomer Ilya Kovalchuk but Clarkson changed the course of this game, not the aforementioned.

The game had plenty to offer, from the fast paced first, to several fights that broke out, to the exciting finish but showed that both teams have some areas to work on. The Bruins are a team that may not make the playoffs if they continue to come up short in games and didn't show the effort that a desperate team needs to show around this time. The Devils need to refine their ability to hold onto leads, which has led to problems in the past few games. All in all, the Devils just inched closer to the top spot in the Atlantic Division with a big win over the Bruins tonight.

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