TORONTO Its always difficult to appreciate history when its taking place all around the office -- or the frozen sheet in this case.
The Bruins closed the books on November with a 6-3 dispatching of the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, and it was a colorful and bountifulmonth to remember. The Bruins went 12-0-1 in the month of November and became the first team All-Star edition of the Bruins organization to go without a single regulation loss over an entire calendar monthsince the 1968-69 campaign.That edition of the Bruins went 10-0-4 in January and included a ridiculous 49 goals and 126 points from Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr in his prime and a team that would go on to win the Stanley Cup the following season. So do anything to match those squads means the current set of Black and Gold members are doing something pretty damn positive.
They also totaled 25 points during the month of November, and became the first Bruins team since March of 1978 to enjoy that kind of winning stretch over a month-long period. Its been a winning streak built on obedience to Claude Julien's systemand enthusiasm for the nightly match-up, and its also shown the different facets to Bostons dominant game that they can feature on a nightly basis.There isn't just one way the Bruins go about dismantling an opponent, and the stunningly awful October has them on a mission.
Every game is a different situation and now were looking at it that way, said Bs coach Claude Julien. We thought we were a better team than what we showed in October. We decided to pick up our game and play the way we can. Thats made a big difference.
The Bruins have punched their way to wins when it served them best against the NHLs cowardly lions in Buffalo. The Bruins have dazzled defensively-inept opponents in offensive shootouts like their goal-scoring show on Long Island, and theyve stolen hockey games when Tim Thomas is on point between the pipes as he was in Montreal last week.Befitting a Stanley Cup champion, there weaknesses have been far and few between for over a month of hockey -- and that's a large section of a hockey season to begin making assessments about a team. Perhaps the B's are closer to being this good against some very good opponents than anybody dares imagine.
The Bruins have been the last team standing in 12 out of 13 games over the last calendar month, and they managed only one true knockout punch in an alley fight with the Sabres. The rest have been aboutscoring and systems work.It would bea tediouschore to for Boston if they were simply scratching the surface for goals, and scrounging around for offense. Instead theyve been outscoring their opponents by a wide 57-24 margin during their wonderful November surge, and seem to just now be enjoyingtheir just desserts given the talent up and down the roster. But if the Bruins learned one thing during their Stanley Cup rin it's this:theres no time for patting each other on the back in Bostons world. Its on to the next challenge and a rematch with Toronto on Saturday night. Their display of firepower in November was both awesome and impressive, but it's not quite that breathtaking for a team that reached the NHLmountaintop last spring.
Its quite an accomplishment, but unfortunately with the way the world works -- and the way this league works its over and November is gone, said Tim Thomas. Its December now and Saturday night we have a game against a team that gave us a tough battle tonight.
For the Bruins, the record comes with many other things: Zdeno Chara has been a legitimate offensive force with 14 points in 13 games, and thats a career-high for the franchise defenseman over a calendar month. David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic all got on the scoresheet in one manner or another in Wednesday nights game, and made it the first game since a Nov. 7 win over theIslanders that two of the three forwards on the Bs top line were able to kick on a couple of scores.
So to put it simply, the Bruins would need something grand to get them off track on whats been an amazing run. A few years ago the Bruins might have been reading their clips and kicking back for a weeks relaxation at this point in their work cycle, and they definitely might have looked past a lesser opponent.
But theres one final thing they keep coming back to: a point Andrew Ference made clear following all kinds of back-slapping and kind words about their current situation in the visiting dressing room at the Air Canada Centre. Many of the Bruins have already won an award thats the coolest in all of professional sports, so there arent too many key B's players jumping up and down about a solid month of hockey. A midweek game against the cellar dweller in the East provides as much of a challenge as anything else for a B's team that's taking it all as it comes.It sounds like the voice of exprience has been a good teacher for the Bruins.
Its kind of a weird feeling. I think any other year wed be a lot more giddy about it, said Andrew Ference. Were being pretty level-headed. When we were losing at the start of the year till now theres not a huge difference in the locker room. Coming off last year we learned a lot about keeping a level head, and how much it benefited last years players on their way.
You dont see a lot of guys walking around their rooms with their chests puffed out because we know this is a difficult league to score against other teams. Things can change quickly. You want to respect your opponent, but not give them too much respect.
It sounds like the Bruins have found that delicate balance.The November ride isa nice historical footnote, but nothing more than that with so much already serving as water under the hockey bridge. Bring on the Stanley Cup again and another chance to win it, and thats when the Bruins truly come alive these days.As it should be for any champion.