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.

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

Cassidy: 'Trying to set a standard' of being one of the NHL's better teams

BOSTON – The Bruins have won seven of eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy and are fortifying their position as the third playoff team in the Atlantic Division with each passing victory.

The 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at TD Garden on Tuesday night probably shouldn’t be all impressive based on the Yotes standing as the second-worst team in the NHL, but it was a classic trap game coming off a long West Coast road trip. Instead of falling for the trap the Bruins exploded for three goals in the second period, energized by a shorthanded Riley Nash strike, and continue to extend the winning stretch they need in order to punch their playoff ticket.

The postseason clincher is still a long way away from reality, but Cassidy said the B’s are starting to achieve the elevated level of play they’re aiming for while finally getting the full potential out of their team.

“I just want the guys to make sure that they play confident, solid hockey and believe in themselves. And play to a [higher] standard,” said Cassidy. “We’re trying to set a standard where we’re one of the better teams in the National Hockey League. They’ve been there before, the leadership group here. That’s where we’re striving to get through in the end.”

They haven’t exactly shied away from the competition either, twice beating the first-place San Jose Sharks and shutting out the first place Montreal Canadiens in the final straw that saw Michel Therrien axed in favor of Claude Julien.

The B’s have now opened up a three-point cushion over the Maple Leafs for their playoff spot and they’ve averaged 4.13 goals per game (33 goals in eight games) while allowing just 2.13 goals per game (17 goals in eight games) in the eight games going from Julien to Cassidy. 

The challenge now is to maintain that level of play over the final 19 games of the regular season to drive home their playoff bid and finish strong at a point where in each of the past two seasons they’ve utterly imploded.


 

Wednesday, March 1: Bruins okay with not dealing

Wednesday, March 1: Bruins okay with not dealing

Here are all the links from around the hockey world as NHL trade deadline day is upon us with no promise of fireworks in Boston.

*As referenced above, there’s a good chance the Bruins won’t be doing much today and they’re perfectly okay with that.

*Craig Custance grades every move made ahead of the trade deadline with plenty of action out of the way early.

*The Vancouver Canucks will not be trading Ryan Miller, which is smart given the normal market for No. 1 goaltenders.

*The New York Rangers lost out on the Kevin Shattenkirk rental sweepstakes at the deadline, so they’ve opted for Brendan Smith instead.

*The Florida Panthers may make a move at the deadline (which they did in acquiring Thomas Vanek) but they will not make or break their team with deadline deals.

*Doug Armstrong says that Shattenkirk was frustrated by his role with the St. Louis Blues, and that played into his trade to the Capitals.

*For something completely different: It’s a national holiday in Canada as Jay and Dan will be returning to their natural habitat.