After the game, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas complained that the Canes skaters were trying to pad their stats.
"They're a point-hungry team," Thomas said. "I'm not talking about points for the win. The end of the game there, they were all doing a little bit of cheating to get their point totals up, so they can get a bigger contract next time."
So many things wrong with this. Not the least of which is that none of the Canes "big dogs" are in contract years. They're all locked up for at least two more seasons. And it wasn't 50-2. It was 5-2. There's no stat padding in a game that close. It wasn't actually close, but those "stat padding" allegations are way out of line. But if it helps him sleep better to say "pad stats" when the rest of the world says "outplay", then so be it.
Eric Staal scored an early marker at 2:43. Kevyn Adams stole the puck from defenseman Milan Jurcina behind the Bruins net. He passed to Anton Babchuk, who fired one of his heavy shots from the right point that was stopped by Thomas, but Staal had two chances to stuff it in from the left side of the net. The second time, Thomas had his back to the play and was about five feet out of the net. It was easy. Too easy. Babchuk and K-Ads got the assists.
Shean Donovan, who got absolutely crushed in a fight with Andrew Ladd, scored for the Bs at 14:15. After a Canes turnover in neutral ice, he rushed in the zone against THREE Canes skaters, and beat them all to put one past Cam Ward. Wayne Primeau and Mark Mowers got the assists.
Brad Stuart gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead just 62 seconds later. The Bruins rushed into the Carolina zone on a mini-break. Patrice Bergeron made a really nice centering pass to Marco Sturm in the goal mouth area. Ward was able to make the point-blank save, but the rebound kicked out to the left circle, and Stuart was able to lift it over Ward from there. Sturm and Bergeron got the helpers.
At 5:56 of the second, Erik Cole scored an absolutely jaw-dropping goal. Down in their own end, Cole laid down to block a Brad Stuart shot, got up, corralled the puck, outskated and fought off Stuart -- who was draped all over Cole-- and the diving Jason York. He did all this one-handed, then pulled the puck to his forehand to beat Thomas. There aren't many players in the league who could have made all that happen. Only someone with the same combination of speed, strength, and skill as Cole. The unassisted goal knotted it at two.
At 18:56 of the second, while Anton Babchuk was gone for delaying the game, the Canes got a shorthanded goal from Viva. Zdeno Chara was having a really difficult time running the point on power play. All night long, he was letting the puck out and/or making bad passes, which made the Bruins PP suffer. With Viva applying some mild pressure up high, Chara let another really bad pass go. Rod Brind'Amour intercepted the pass in the slot area, then hit Viva with a nice outlet pass for the shorthanded breakaway goal.
Eric Staal got his second goal at 6:10 of the third. Erik Cole fired a long dump-in from the Carolina side of the red line. Jason York lost the footrace to Scott Walker, so the icing was negated. From the goal line, Walker hit Staal with a perfect centering pass. Staal easily beat Thomas, who was camped out on the left post and had no chance on the play. It all happened so quickly, and it wasn't on Canes TV, but the replays that I've seen make it look like a set play to exploit York, who made no effort whatsoever on the play. Assists went to Walker and Cole.
At 11:24, Ray Whitney scored a really nifty goal. Viva carried the puck in, then dropped a pass to Brind'Amour above the slot. Jason York followed Viva into the right corner, leaving Ray Whitney all alone on the left side, nobody within 15 feet of him. Brindy hit Whitney at the left dot for a really easy one-timer. Assists to Brind'Amour and Viva
This is where the +/- stat is often misleading. Jason York finished the game -1. He was terrible, but if all you saw was the boxscore, you wouldn't think that. Meanwhile, Nic Wallin wasn't very good for the Canes, but he finished even in the +/-.
I'm still trying to figure out where the stat padding came in.
The "official" three stars went to Brind'Amour (third), Cole (second) and Staal (first). I couldn't quite do it that way.
The RBH Three Stars of the game:
Third Star Erik Cole, CAR. Goal, assist
Second Star Justin Williams, CAR. Assist, shorthanded GWG
First Star Eric Staal, CAR. 2 goals.
Up next is the annual West Coast road swing. This time, its the Nortwest Division starting on Tuesday in Calgary.
On December 15, the Leafs come to town. Chairman Mo and Bates Battaglia return to the RBC Center for the first time in a long time.