Boston Bruins

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.

Krug, Forbacka Karlsson suffer upper body injuries vs. Red Wings

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Krug, Forbacka Karlsson suffer upper body injuries vs. Red Wings

BOSTON – The Bruins ended Tuesday night’s preseason home date with another feel-good victory over the Red Wings, but it may have come at a cost.

Both Torey Krug and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson were injured in the second period of the B’s 4-2 win over the Red Wings at TD Garden, and didn’t return to the game. Krug was hit in the face with a puck in the defensive zone during the second period, and quickly exited the ice with Bruins trainer Don DelNegro after the impact of the puck hitting his face initially took his feet out from under him.  

“[Krug] clearly didn’t finish the game, and took a shot up in the facial area,” said Bruce Cassidy of Krug, who had a couple of shots on net in 9:10 of ice time while largely playing with Charlie McAvoy in an offensive-minded pairing. “We’ll probably have an update tomorrow.”

Forbacka Karlsson took a hard tumble into the end boards in the game’s middle period, and never returned after serving up the primary assist on Danton Heinen’s goal earlier in that very same period. JFK tried to return to Tuesday night’s win over the Red Wings, according to Cassidy, but was kept out of the game with an upper body injury that has his status as questionable moving forward.

“He went into the boards late in the second. He’s day-to-day, upper body. I think wanted to – he did come back and try [to return to the game],” said Cassidy of JFK, who put up an assist and a plus-1 rating in 8:37 of ice time before leaving the game. “I don’t think it’s serious, but I can’t speculate. We’ll get another update tomorrow. It didn’t look good, but I don’t think it’s as bad as it looked. We’ll know more [about JFK] tomorrow.”

It certainly sounds like both Krug and JFK could miss a day or two of practice moving forward after the injury wear-and-tear of preseason action, but the hope is that the Black and Gold won’t be missing a couple of key performers for anything more than that.  

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Talking Points: Austin Czarnik puts on a show vs. Red Wings

Talking Points: Austin Czarnik puts on a show vs. Red Wings

GOLD STAR: Austin Czarnik once again showed that he can really put on a show during training camp after winning an NHL job last season based on his strong preseason. Czarnik finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-1 rating in 15:15 of ice time, created a penalty shot situation solely based on his skating speed and perfectly executed a 3-on-1 late in the third period while feeding a one-timer dish to Teddy Purcell for the insurance marker. Czarnik tied David Pastrnak with a team-high four shots on net for the night, and won 8-of-15 draws for the Bruins while manning his natural center position. Czarnik showed once again that he can play effectively when he’s motoring at a high pace and playing aggressive hockey, a couple of things he didn’t always do with the Bruins once the routine of the NHL regular season settled in last year.

BLACK EYE: Brandon Carlo didn’t have a particularly terrible night, but he did end up as the only Bruins player with a negative plus/minus. Carlo was on the ice for both goals scored by Detroit, and otherwise didn’t really factor into the game while clocking in a solid 17:48 of ice time. His only other major contribution was an interference call halfway through the first period that put the Wings on the power play. Carlo was playing without his usual partner, Zdeno Chara, of course, and one of the remaining questions about the 21-year-old D-man is exactly how good he can be as a shutdown defenseman when he doesn’t have the big captain on his left side. Clearly, it was a good night overall for the B’s, but Carlo was far from his best in his preseason debut.

TURNING POINT: Nobody would have blamed the Bruins if they were a little frustrated after outshooting the Red Wings by a 13-8 margin, and not seeing any points up on the board. Instead of getting frustrated they kept working and finally busted through with a pair of goals within 90 seconds of each other in the second frame. Ryan Fitzgerald finished off the first chance off a nice dish from Jakub Zboril, and Danton Heinen followed by banging home a backdoor dish from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson across the ice. The two goals from two of Boston’s young forward group pushed the B’s out to a lead that they would never relinquish against Detroit.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jakub Zboril probably hasn’t received some of the fanfare of the other first-round picks in Bruins camp, but the skilled, improving D-man played an excellent first preseason game for the Black and Gold. It was Zboril’s one-man rush from his defense position that helped set up his creative dish to a wide-open Ryan Fitzgerald for Boston’s first goal, and he followed that up with 19:12 of mostly solid ice time. Zboril finished with the assist and a plus-2 rating along with a shot on net and a registered hit while also playing a special teams role on both the power play and the penalty kill. Zboril is still working on the polish to his game that will eventually make him an effective pro, but he was noticeable in a good way in his first preseason action of the season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 – the team-leading number of shot attempts for David Pastrnak in his first action of the preseason while skating with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Who is hard on the puck? Who is winning pucks? Who can keep their pace up? I think [the young forwards] are all capable of making plays, the young skilled guys. You can probably list seven or eight that have talent and could make NHL plays.” – Bruce Cassidy, on what he’s looking for out of B’s forward prospects that want to win NHL jobs.