March 24th, 2010 by

Begin’s recent play should silence the critics

With an NHL career-high of 23-points in a single season, Steve Begin was not signed by the Boston Bruins to be an offensive threat. In fact, the Trois-Rivieres, QC, Canada native has been under the microscope as of late in the Boston media — especially some afternoon talk show hosts — questioning his role on this team while asking, “what have you done for me lately”.

No, he was not brought in with the expectations of being a 20-goal scorer to help replace the loss of Phil Kessel’s 36 goals. No, he was not signed to be the chippy weasel he once was on Montreal. No, he was acquired to be a fourth-line center and to carry out fourth-line duties: create energy, finish checks, play hard, help enforce and police, etc.

However, Begin went on a scoreless drought that dated back to last calendar year as it ran as many games deep as the number on his jersey. The 31-year-old Begin hadn’t registered a point since he hit the back of the net on Dec. 30, 2009 — 27 games ago — against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Fast forward 27 games to last night’s highly anticipated match-up, and the B’s fourth-line center snapped the point-less streak by scoring Boston’s fourth goal of the game — and his fourth of the season — against the very team in which he scored his third: the Atlanta Thrashers.

Begin finished the night with 1-0-1, plus-1 rating, and three shots on goal on the score sheet. ¬†Plus, he earned team high’s with six hits and winning 70-percent on the face-offs against the Blue Crew. He was relentless when playing the body, even mixing it up a bit against Thrashers’ bruiser Eric Boulton late in the game — who fought Bruins’ policeman Shawn Thornton earlier in the first period — but did not back down.

Vladimir Sobotka — the Bruins’ 5’10″ 180 lb. third-line center — played just 0:51 of one shift last night before leaving with a head-injury sustained from a thunderous hit from Atlanta’s 6’4″ 255 lb. Evgeny Artukhin. Begin — along with David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron — stepped-up with extra minutes and filled the void of their ailing teammate, logging 15:39 of total ice time: the most playing time Begin has seen since in 16 games.

However Begin’s contributions run further than just scoring a goal last night. In fact, No. 27 shined in Sunday’s 2-1 win over the New York Rangers as well — answering the bell with Brandon Prust just 2:40 into the first period after a sweet open-ice hit. His physical, and overall, play has elevated during the Bruins’ most desperate time of need.

“No better time than now.” said head coach Claude Julien to the media when asked about Begin’s physical presence after last night’s win against Atlanta.

If Begin can produce with this type of play over the next 10 games and into the playoffs, then we shouldn’t have to question why Begin was brought into Boston in the first place.

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