BOSTON (CBS) – What a month for the Boston Bruins.
In what was a big bust in October as the B’s sauntered their way to a 3-7 record and trade rumors were all around, with the media was suggesting Bruins Brass break up the band, they page flipped out of Halloween and into a record warmth November. And I’m not just talking about the weather!
Boston opened the month with a solid 5-3 thumping of the Ottawa Senators. What most fans wanted was some consistency from the team with hopes they would continue to play like that win. Well, the Bruins answered with a resounding YES! They won their next 10 games while outscoring their opponents by a whopping 30 goals. They have only lost one point in 11 games with a shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings. They could finish the month without a regulation loss if they defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday in a battle for first place in the Northeast Division.
Read: Bruins-Leafs Preview
This current run is led by sophomore sensation Tyler Seguin, who has the team scoring lead with 12 goals and 23 points and is a plus-19 , tops in the NHL. One of the most amazing stats about Seguin is that in 22 games, he is even or plus; he does not have a minus game. That is really hard to do no matter what the team is doing. It goes to show just how much confidence he has gained since the end of the regular season last year and how invaluable the experience of playing four rounds of Stanley Cup Playoffs is.
We thought at the beginning of the year Tim Thomas was going to get more rest, play fewer games and Tuukka Rask would begin to take the reigns of being the number one goalie. Not so fast says the veteran Conn Smythe & two-time Georges Vezina Trophy winner. Thomas has played one less game than he did last year after 22 games, and it doesn’t look like the 37-year old netminder is ready to allow Rask to supplant him just yet. He has 11 wins in 15 starts, which is fourth in the league, and Thomas is second in goals against and save percentage. Wednesday, he will be looking for a personal best ninth win in a row.
Chris Kelly is incredibly second in goals for the B’s with nine and 16 points, yet still has his all around game. Here is a fun stat from fellow Tweeper Ty Anderson: Kelly has more goals than Ovechkin, Zetterberg, Patrick Kane, Taylor Hall, and Rick Nash. Those are names you don’t usually find Kelly near.
Conversely, the Bruins top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton has run stagnant. Since Nathan Horton scored in the 6-0 blowout of the New York Islanders on November 19, the have not been able to find the back of the net. Also, in that blowout, Krejci played almost 19 minutes and didn’t record a point and a 0 +/-, which signifies that he was your basic no-show. He has three goals and ten points and is a -4 and has been much fodder from the media for rumor/suggestion of a trade. For the Bruins to continue their winning ways, these three must begin to contribute on a regular basis.
Counting on the third and fourth liners to keep their hard work paying off is not the route to success.
Game 13 in November and Game one in December are part of a home-and-home showdown with the Toronto Maple Leafs; a team that has played very well so far this young season minus the two embarrassing losses to the Bruins (6-2 in Boston and a 7-0 whitewashing at the Air Canada Center). In those two loses, and everyone gets tired of it but, Phil Kessel was nowhere to be found with zero points and a -1 in both contests. It seems that the NHL’s Superman/leading scorer has his own version of Kryptonite but it’s not green, it’s the Black and Gold of the Boston Bruins.
Since the Kessel was sent to Toronto for their number-one draft pick trade (Mr. Seguin, of course), number-81 has been the invisible man against his former team! The Bruins are somehow stuck in his head, and he can’t get them out.
The Bruins have made the leap from the cellar in October to at worst, second place once December arrives. And from looking at the Accu-Weather forecast for the weekend, lets just see if the Bruins stay as warm as the December weather is supposed to be!
Ric Duarte has covered hockey and the Bruins for various media outlets since 1986. You can follow Ric at BruinsDieHard.com and at twitter @bruins_diehard.