Bruins scorching start best since 1970-71

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Bruins scorching start best since 1970-71

BOSTON -- After Tuesday nights 2-1 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins are off to the best start in franchise history since the 1970-71 edition of the Bruins began that season with a 5-0-1 record.

The Bruins have matched that six-game start and have claimed 11 out of a possible 12 points in this unique 48-game regular season, putting them atop both the Northeast Division and the Eastern Conference. It's exactly the kind of start to the season envisioned by some with the Bruins holding the most NHL players (12) that stayed active in Europe during the four month lockout, and returning nearly the entire roster and coaching staff from last year's battle-hardened crew.

Only the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks, both red-hot teams out in the Western Conference, have more points than the Bs do at the 10-day mark of the hockey season.

Anytime a recent edition of the Bruins does something to match a record or accomplishment from the Bobby Orr Era in Boston, its a pretty healthy indicator that theyre doing something special.

Thats the case this time around for a Black and Gold team hell bent on a strong start before the season was underway. They've accomplished their goals and put themselves right in the middle of the fray with a staggering 12.5 percent of the regular season already in the books.

Our guys have been really good. Weve found ways to win. To me weve played some pretty good hockey so far early in this regular season. In the games that werent quite as good as we should have been, we found a way to win, said Claude Julien. To be a good team youve got to be able to do that, not every night is going to be a great night.

"At the end of the day its how hard youre willing to work to get that win and our guys have been good at answering that call.

It's been a few things that have allowed the Bruins to get off to such an optimal start: Tuukka Rask has been dominant between the pipes with a .932 save percentage and 1.74 GAA, the Milan LucicDavid KrejciNathan Horton line has been among the best in the NHL over the season's first two weeks and shows no signs of slowing down and 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton has given the Bruins an offensive-minded defenseman they've been searching for since Peter Chiarelli took over as general manager in Boston more than six years ago.

Add to that the continued excellence of players like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to name just a few, and Boston sports fans are looking at the franchise with the best possible chance to win another title soon.

"Two years ago when we did go all the way to the Cup, we were coming back no matter what the situation was," said Tyler Seguin, of the multiple third period comebacks the Bruins have already pulled off in this young season. "I think it just shows the character of this locker room. Obviously still being early in the season we want to really show our identity, and I think thats a big part of it."

Not only have the Bruins been up for answering the call to victory, but they've impressed with the flair they've flashed in their wins. True to form of the Bruins clubs that skated under the tutelage of Julien over the last couple of years, the Black and Gold have been at their best when the game is on the line in the third period.

A wise hockey coach once said that "the legs feed the wolf, gentlemen" and the Bruins are stuffing the wolf with TD Garden healthy wraps and jumbo meatballs after being fully prepared for a quick camp followed by an immediate NHL season.

With the game-tying goal for Nathan Horton in the third period of Tuesday nights eventual shootout win included, the Bruins have outscored their opponents by a 7-0 margin in the third period this season. That's a Stanley Cup worthy-type statistic from Boston early in the season.

The third period dominance is something the Bruins have carried as a calling card over the last few years, and it clearly wasn't lost during the 119 days of lockout inaction.

They have also been timely scores for the Bs: Hortons game-tying bid through the five-hole last night guaranteed the Bruins would get at least a point, and the David Krejci one-timer for Monday's game-winner in the final two minutes against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night are just from the last two games alone.

In those last two games they've outshot their opponents by a 31-16 margin in the decisive final 20 minutes of regulation.

Those kinds of come-from-behind victories and late-game rallies start to bond people together with the belief they can overcome any kind of deficit. The Bruins are already there with that kind of swagger given theyre the same young, talented nucleus that won the Stanley Cup two years ago.

But every little bit helps in the confidence department when NHL hockey is concerned.

Weve got a lot of guys who were here when we won the Stanley Cup. When we did that, we went through every situation you could possibly think of, said Brad Marchand. We know that its not over until the buzzer goes, and weve shown that a couple of times already.

The Bruins are now in the middle of the great start they hoped for, and theyre showing the same kind of traits that have made them a championship-caliber team over the last three years.

Theyve seen most of their key players come out of the gate strong and theyre taking advantage of a schedule that doesnt truly get crazy until the middle of February. That was a major point of emphasis after the Bruins staggered out of the gate to a 3-7 start last year coming off their Summer of Stanley Cup fun.

The Bruins will now say they're on to bigger and better things, and its time to focus on the Northeast Division games coming up quickly on the 48-game regular season schedule.

But the team is also off to the best start in more than 40 years dating back to the franchise's glory days of Bobby Orr and multiple Cup titles, a sign the Black and Gold might just be on to something special again these days.

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while digging the Spider-Man trailer that dropped last night. 

*John Scott has finally called it a day and announced his retirement, and apparently there’s a book of his memoirs also coming out too. I’m predicting it’s not headed for the New York Times best seller list. 

*Winter Olympics participation and the CBA negotiations for the NHL are starting to merge into giant issue.  

*Connor McDavid calls the Flyers' Brandon Manning classless for telling him on the ice that he purposefully tried to hurt him last season. Some players might also take issue with McDavid making public what another player said to him on the ice. That’s kind of a no-no for most hockey players and breaks an unwritten rule that McDavid might think he’s above given his star status. This whole thing isn’t a good look for anybody. 

*Kevin Stevens pleads guilty to federal drug charges in what’s become a pretty sad situation for the former NHL star. 

*New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is beginning to raise questions with his play, and his massive price tag. 

*Youngsters Zach Weresnki and Dylan Larkin took similar paths to the NHL, and are both considered part of the talented young generation full of hockey stars. 

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Carey Price taking a nutty on Kyle Palmieri after the player crashed into his crease last night. Price is being celebrated for sticking up for himself, but if another goalie did that to a Habs player at the Bell Centre, there would already be a warrant out for his arrest. Play it both ways, Montreal!  

*For something completely different: here’s the aforementioned new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that looks pretty darn good. 

 

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster.