Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bruins Puckbag: An Assortment of Observations on Boston and Providence

When the Bruins face off with the Washington Capitals at 12:30 p.m. this Sunday, it will mark the second time they have played on Super Bowl Sunday when the Patriots are playing in the Lombardi Trophy Game. Previously, on Feb. 1, 2004, the Bs vanquished the Penguins, 4-1, at the FleetCenter hours before the Pats nipped the Carolina Panthers to claim their second championship.

In the Claude Julien era, the Bruins are 2-0-0 on Super Bowl Sunday, with both wins occurring in back-to-back years (2009 and 2010) at Montreal.

With Tuesday night’s come-from-behind, 4-3 triumph over Ottawa, Boston is guaranteed a split of its 24 games against Northeast Division cohabitants. With the exception of Buffalo, against whom they are 2-0-0, the Bruins have already won or split their six-game series with each divisional rival. And by the end of this month, with two wins over the Sabres, one over the Canadiens and one over the Senators, they could secure a victory in each season series.

Could Providence rookie and top point-getter Carter Camper be ready to answer a call-up to the NHL next season? If he makes enough of a consistent impression in this year’s homestretch and pads on a little more physical strength over the summer, there’s no reason why he couldn’t.

As recently as two months ago, the better part of the Bruins-related trade buzz had Boston shopping around Tuukka Rask, then the shoddier half of an otherwise sharp and stingy goaltending tandem. Now that the roles have reversed, people have thrust Tim Thomas into the rumor mill. Stop the madness.

This author is stumped as to which is more surprising: That Boston avoided any minor penalties or shorthanded situations Tuesday night or that fourth-liner Daniel Paille still has yet to take a minor penalty in 44 games-played this season. (So far, Paille’s only time in the bin has been for a fight with Florida’s Ed Jovanovski Jan. 16, so he needn’t necessarily bank on Lady Byng nomination.)

Sean Avery’s first two stints with the Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale, first in 2008-09 and then in October of this season, failed to overlap with a single encounter with the P-Bruins. Is Sunday, Feb. 19 the date when Ocean State puckheads finally get to witness the player they love to hate the most?

Tim Gleason, who was reportedly on the Bruins’ radar for a trade, was subtly removed from the market Tuesday when the Carolina Hurricanes extended his contract for four years. If Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli is still hoping to shake up the blue line, he should seek the services of Dallas Stars’ point-based playmaker Sheldon Souray.

On the other hand, if he builds upon his two assists Tuesday night, Joe Corvo may have finally fulfilled that role already.

Dennis Seidenberg joined Corvo, fellow rearguard Zdeno Chara and power forward Milan Lucic in Tuesday night’s multi-point club. And he channeled himself with a game-winning goal uncannily reminiscent of one he inserted 14 months ago against Tampa Bay.

Seasoned P-Bruins’ winger Jamie Tardif tallied seven goals, including six on the power play, in his first 18 appearances with the Spoked-Ps. In the 17 games since then, he has mustered a mere two tallies, both at even strength. Yet he is still responsible for nearly one quarter (24 percent) of the team’s 25 man-up conversions on the year.

With about two months remaining before any team hardware is doled out, the two frontrunning candidates for Boston’s Seventh Man Award are Andrew Ference and Rich Peverley.

The stay-at-home defenseman Ference is one goal away from a career-high five, hitting the net with more precision than ever and on pace for a new high mark of 32 points. Peverley could crack the 60-point plateau for the first time in four full NHL seasons and be tinkering on 50 assists by season’s end.