Haggerty: Bruins putting it all together in win streak

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Haggerty: Bruins putting it all together in win streak

WILMINGTON A wise old sports man once said things are never as bad as they are during a losing streak, and never as good as they seem during a long winning streak.

So the Bruins arent likely to beat every opponent from pillar to post and average nearly six goals per game in doing it, but the Black and Gold finally showed some engagement, some emotion and plenty of physical execution in ripping off a six-game winning streak thats got the team back on track.

Tyler Seguin has sparkled with seven goals and 10 points in the six games during the month of November, but Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Milan Lucic have all been point-per-game plus contributors over that stretch as well. Chara has very quietly dominated during the Bs winning streak, and has put up nine assists and a plus-9 while offering up his usual stalwart defense in 26 plus minutes per game.

In fact, Adam McQuaid is the only Bruins regular without a point during the winning streak with contributions from top-to-bottom, and the stretch of victories has once again featured Bostons overwhelming depth at forward and defense.

The depth has been one thing, and Gregory Campbell gives credit to the big money skill players producing ample offense to take the pressure off everybody. Their latest win against New Jersey was a grinding effort, but so many of Bostons recent wins have been blowouts by the third period.

I think weve scored points, and weve done it by playing our north-south game and being stingy defensively. We always get goaltending, but were getting goal-scoring right now, said Gregory Campbell. Our top guys are really putting in the work and theyre getting rewarded.

Its a lot easier for the whole team to succeed when were winning. The first and second lines the goal-scorers so to speak have done a great job and theyve carried us. Its a tough job to have that contribution night in and night out, so when you get the third and fourth line chipping in it goes a long way.

Granted the six-game winning streak has been over teams that didnt qualify for the playoffs last season aside from the Buffalo Sabres, and could be considered teams that are still searching for their the NHL identity. But none of that mattered much to the Bruins when they were staring at a 3-7 record and last place in the Eastern Conference just a few weeks ago.

Now they lead the NHL with a plus-18 goal differential, and sit one more winning streak away from some breathing room in the middle of the playoff pack.

The Bruins sit tied for 11th place in the Eastern Conference just outside of a playoff spot with games in hand, and they finish out a ludicrous home stretch to start the season with a Thursday night game against the worst team in the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But following the Western Conference tilt against Columbus finest hockey team, the Bruins lead into the all-important Thanksgiving holiday with road battles against the New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens and the circle the calendar game against the Sabres in Buffalo on the night before Turkey Day.

With all of the losses we put up in the early going, we can ill afford to get comfortable and rest on our streak so far. Were just trying to maintain our intensity and our solid play structurally, said Campbell. We want to continue climbing. Those are two huge divisional games waiting for us next week if we want to make a huge divisional jump.

If successfully executed, the three-game road stretch against Eastern Conference teams should be the final set of dominoes that get the Bruins back into playoff pole position two months into the season. Its not exactly what the Bruins envisioned when they were sitting down to Stanley Cup championship ring dinners back in early October, but its not as bad as it looked for an entire month of uninspired hockey either.

Our whole game fell together when it was all about the execution and the skating, said Claude Julien. Then all of the other things fell into place. The first month of the season even in practice you could see it was sluggish. Thats why the mental part of the game wasnt really ready to play the way we have.

It was a big struggle and a long struggle to get things going in the right direction, and we finally found our legs and energy. All of the sudden our game just began picking up.

The Bruins have outscored their opponents by a 34-13 margin and theyve regained their swagger knocking around their last six opponents. But nobody is going to remember Bostons six-game winning streak if they slide back into mediocrity in the next week, and thats the main course of action for a Bs team just hitting their powerful opening stride.

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."
 

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.