Joe Corvo: Will Saturday's Performance Be A Turning Point For Bruins D-Man?

Al DanielCorrespondent IIDecember 12, 2011

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 10:  Joe Corvo #14 of the Boston Bruins reacts to scoring a third period coal behind Patrice Bergeron #37 while playing the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on December 10, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

While there is never a favorable time for the Boston Bruins to lose their towering captain and point-based puckslinger, Zdeno Chara, a less unsettling time would be right now.

Moments before he went down with a leg injury that will reportedly render him out of commission for a week, Chara inserted his sixth goal of the season in Columbus on Saturday. By night’s end, fellow grizzled defenseman Joe Corvo had bested his teammate with two strikes, his first two in Boston attire, including the eventual clincher in a 5-3 victory.

As it stands now, the rest of the Bruins’ blue line has combined for seven goals on the year, only one more than what Chara has rolled up on his own. Corvo and Dennis Seidenberg, who garnered the primary assist on Saturday’s game-winner, both went through 27 games and 60 shots on net without putting one in the net. Seidenberg is still seeking to hatch his goose-egg after 28 outings and 60 hacks at the opposing net.

But at least for Corvo, one of only two offseason imports from another organization, Saturday’s two-strike night could mean he is finished surveying Boston’s ice and ready to perform in accordance with expectations. With the exception of 2006-07 and 2009-10, when he was confined to 52 games, Corvo has hit double digits in the goal column every year since becoming an established NHLer on the other side of the lockout.

Besides Chara, he is the only Boston backliner to have tallied 10 or more goals in a single NHL season, having done it four times in all. No one else on the Bruins’ blue line brigade has logged any more than seven, which happened to be Seidenberg’s career high last year.

Already, Corvo is tinkering on a pace for a career year of his own in the playmaking department. With 10 assists thus far, he might match his previous high of 29 helpers, which he set with the Ottawa Senators in 2006-07. That is assuming he keeps his pace and suits up for all 82 regular-season contests.

But especially now with Chara injured, and even when a thoroughly healthy roster is restored, Corvo could stand to start packing a few primary contributions on a regular basis. That was ostensibly one of the critical gains the Bruins were getting when they brought him in over the summer as a do-over for Tomas Kaberle.

Instead, at least for starters, Corvo brought from Carolina what turned out to be a carry-over scoring drought that ultimately stretched to a cumulative 31 games. The 27 scoreless games with Boston alone exceeded his previous career-worst drought from the 2006-07 season, which he may have successfully booted under the rug with his prolific playmaking.

Come what may, there is sufficient reason to believe that this past Saturday will not merely be a fleeting flicker followed by another cold spell.

Two nights before battling the Blue Jackets, the Bruins were collectively quelled by Florida Panthers’ stopper Jose Theodore with much assistance from red iron. Corvo was among those (as was Seidenberg) to record a missed shot that hit the post. One or two more inches tilted in the right direction and he would have splashed his drought one game sooner.

For his second point on Saturday, which granted Boston a 4-3 advantage early in the third period, Corvo’s slapper did not need any guidance from an offensive teammate’s twig. Nor did it need to brush off of an opposing body en route to the net. Instead, it was a pure penetration that dodged a forest of bodies and hit nothing but air before it tuned the mesh.

With Chara and his 6-13-19 scoring log now on temporary hold, it is on Corvo to supplement the bulk of what is lost, whether that be a directly homeward-bound blast or the parent of a fruitful deflection or rebound. A little added pressure ought to come with that, but Chara’s absence had already begun when Corvo inserted Saturday’s decider and emphatically hurled the urchin off of his back.

He might even have a healthful shot of incentive to continue his production this week. For what it’s worth, two of Corvo’s former teams are on deck for a set of back-to-back game nights. The Los Angeles Kings, who drafted him in 1997 and later gave him his first 203 NHL twirls, are at the TD Garden on Tuesday. And the Senators, with whom he went to the 2007 Stanley Cup finals, will host the Bruins on Wednesday.