We know that whether he stays with the Bruins for years to come or continues his NHL career elsewhere, Mark Stuart is going to wear a captain’s ‘C’ someday.
In a 5-1 rout at Philadelphia Thursday night, Stuart showed the type of leadership he usually reserves for those times he deems it necessary in the locker room by fighting both tough guys Daniel Carcillo and Ian Laperriere and setting the tone early against the would-be Broad Street Bullies.
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The Bruins led 1-0 after Blake Wheeler’s goal at 13:15, but had been outplayed for much of the first three quarters of the first period. It took Boston nearly eight minutes to register their first shot on goal and had played much of the stanza in the Flyers’ end. But at 14:02 of that period, Stuart showed no fear in dropping the gloves with the heavyweight Carcillo (remember when he bloodied Shawn Thornton at the Winter Classic?).
Bodies were flying all over the place the rest of the night, and it really looked like big and bad were finally back for the Bruins — as I wrote on ESPNBoston.com after the game.
Here are some other quick-hit thoughts:
•A couple days rest were just what the doctor ordered for Zdeno Chara, who looked like a Norris Trophy winner again. And in turn, his partner Dennis Seidenberg played his best game since coming to Boston. Most important, those two guys led the team in ice time.
•I often criticize general manager Peter Chiarelli for projections he makes that don’t come true. But you cannot criticize what he’s done with the goaltending situation. As great as Tim Thomas was the last four games (or at least three of them), Tuukka Rask continues to look like he’s going to have a closet full of Vezinas by the time he’s Thomas’ age. Rask finished with 31 saves, including a couple breakaways extinguished and some huge point-blank stops early when the Flyers had the momentum. In handicapping the Bruins’ chances of hanging onto a playoff spot, the goaltending tandem is far and away their best advantage.
•Chiarelli also gets kudos if anything he said to the team about its lack of retaliation against Matt Cooke had to do with the Bruins playing rough-and-tumble hockey against the Flyers.
•I referred to Vladimir Sobotka as an “active scratch” the other night. But he was as active as ever in Philly, including a huge 40-second shift, along with linemates Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, and Chara and Seidenberg, that earned the Bruins momentum before their first goal of the night.