Haggerty: Nothing fluky about Bruins

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Haggerty: Nothing fluky about Bruins

Its become increasingly trendy over the last few months to describe the Bruins epic run to the Stanley Cup two seasons ago as a fluke, or the serendipitous case of a hockey team simply catching lightning in a bottle.
Thats right, folks.
Subduing three different quality opponents in a trio of gripping seven game playoffs and reducing a once-proud Philadelphia Flyers team to rubble in four games - before GM Paul Holmgren dropped an off-season pile-driver onto the roster with trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter -- was more about luck than skill.
The quality hockey was kept to a minimum in the opinions of some hockey pundits despite Bostons ability to take down the best statistical opponent in the Vancouver Canucks.
Thats the kind of ham-fisted flotsam and jetsam getting floated by those pining for big, bold moves from Peter Chiarelli and the Bruins in this summer of discontent.
But lets get one thing straight: the Bruins arent a superstar-infused dynasty like the 1988 Edmonton Oilers. The Bruins will always be forced to wring maximum level or CL10 type efforts out of their roster to enjoy sustained success -- and if you dont know what CL10 is then youre not listening to enough Damon Amendolara in the evenings on 98.5 the Sports Hub.
But winning the Cup was no fluke. It wasnt a one-hit wonder like Mexican Radio from Wall of Voodoo, but it wasnt the decisive, victorious question that would answer all others. It was instead a healthy, fully efficient hockey club playing at the top end of their capabilities, and doing the hockey-rich city of Boston proud.
If anything was fluky about a recent Boston foray into the postseason, it was their first round fall to the Washington Capitals in seven games. The 2011-12 postseason run appears to be the outlier everybody was searching for when attempting to quantify what exactly is going on with this Bruins team.
But here are some facts that always seem to get in the way: the Bruins have pushed things to at least the seventh game in the second round of the playoffs in three of the last four years, theyve won the competitive Northeast Division in three of the last four years, and theyve finished among the top five NHL teams in goals per game in three of the last four years.
There was also the whole first team to win the Cup in Boston in 39 years to digest, brag about and finally contemplate on.
Furthermore, the Bruins finished as No. 2 in the NHL in goals per game twice in the last four years, and have experienced no goal-producing problems aside from the year Phil Kessel left town.
Does that sound like a hockey offense thats in dire need of an offensive transfusion from Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan or Keith Yandle?
Prior to this spring, the Bruins hadnt been a first round playoff victim since 2007-08 when Patrice Bergeron nearly had his hockey career derailed by a Randy Jones cheap shot. The Bruins were also a No. 8 seed during those playoffs, and widely expected to lose. Since then, the Black and Gold have been favorites in just about every playoff series theyve welcomed, and thats no fluke at all.

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Dupont: If Tuukka Rask is healthy, he should start for Bruins

Mike Felger and Kevin Paul Dupont debate if it is time for the Bruins to send a message to Tuukka Rask and have Anton Khudobin get the starts in net.

Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

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Nash stepping up when Bruins need him most

BROOKLYN -- It took most of his first season in Boston, but Riley Nash is hitting his groove with the Bruins at exactly the right time.

Nash came up huge in a must-win game Saturday night against the Islanders, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Isle. The unheralded Nash and equally unheralded backup goalie Anton Khudobin were the two most important performers in the tight, playoff-style win that snapped a four game losing streak while pushing the B's back into playoff position.

"That's part of [a big win], right? Big performances,” said interim coach Bruce Cassidy. "Generally you look to your best players, but [Nash] did a really good job. He's got a sneaky shot, so hopefully he uses it a little bit more. You can't say enough about those goals. We needed them tonight.

"Generally our top guns have been good offensively and have come through. But tonight it was the lesser lights for us in terms of offense, so good for us.”

Both Nash goals were titanic. The first came on the first shift following the Islanders goal in the first period. The fourth-line winger stripped Isles defenseman Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone and then flipped a shot past Thomas Greiss to the short side that tied the game at 1-1. Then in the third period, Dominic Moore hit Nash in stride as he sped into the offensive zone, and Nash weaved through defenders before sneaking one past Greiss for the game-winner.

The two goals give Nash four goals and six points in 21 games since the All-Star break, in line with his normal offensive output during his NHL career, and a step up from the three goals and nine points in his first 52 games this season.

The affable Nash was more than happy to contribute in a big win, and enthused at seeing the offense finally starting to flow on a semi-regular basis when the Bruins can really use it.

"It's quite the output as opposed to the season I've had so far, so I'll take it and be happy that we won the game,” said Nash. "I think everyone in here knew that was the biggest game of the year. It was going to be a really big uphill battle if we lost that one.

"Both teams came out desperate in a pretty tight, playoff-style game, but that's what it's going to be like for the rest of the season. So we've got to hunker down and take it one game at a time as the saying goes.”

With the Bruins third line fading a bit in these tight, physical games where players have to battle for their ice, it's been vital that Boston's fourth line step up and provide big minutes at both ends of the ice. Nash and Co. did more than that on Saturday night by potentially saving the season with his biggest, best game in a Bruins uniform.