Bruins scorching start best since 1970-71


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.

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.  

*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.

*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.

*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.

*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.

*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.

*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.