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Kalman: Now Atop NHL Standings, Bruins Return To Site Of Season’s Worst Loss

By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
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Johnny Boychuk and Justin Abdelkader (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Johnny Boychuk and Justin Abdelkader (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

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WILMINGTON – The Bruins went on the road to the face the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 27.

It was the Bruins’ first regular-season visit to Joe Louis Arena since Boston and Detroit were grouped into the Atlantic Division this season and the first homecoming as an established NHL defenseman for Michigan native Torey Krug.

However, the Red Wings proved to be wicked hosts that night. After his team took a 6-1 spanking at the hands of the Red Wings, Bruins coach Claude Julien called the performance “disastrous” and center Patrice Bergeron called it a “wake-up call.”

Now riding the momentum of one of the greatest stretches of regular-season success the Bruins franchise has ever enjoyed, Boston will return to Detroit on Wednesday for the first time since that Thanksgiving Eve debacle. The Bruins have won 15 of their past 16 and collected at least a point in every one of those 16 games.

“We’re a team that usually doesn’t lose by much if we do lose. So that was definitely an eye-opener,” Krug said after practice Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena. “When you lose like that, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth and it doesn’t sit well with guys in our group.”

Boston spit out that loss and marched on. Instead of sobbing on their turkey dinners and feeling sorry for themselves in the “Thanksgiving Showdown” against the New York Rangers on that Friday, the Bruins put forth one of their best performances of the season up until that point in a nationally televised 3-2 victory against an already desperate Rangers team. Boston followed up the very next night by grinding out a 3-1 home win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The resolve the Bruins showed in bouncing back from the loss in Detroit was similar to the attitude the team has had for several years. Losing a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers, falling behind 2-0 to the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks in best-of-seven series, losing a triple-OT game to open the Stanley Cup finals – these are all things that were shake franchises to the foundation, and instead seemingly make the Bruins, and their consistent core of players, stronger.

“Yeah, to me I keep bringing it back to experience because this group, or most of this group, has been together for a long time. We’ve been through a lot — ups and downs and experienced a lot,” Julien said. “I think the fact that we’ve been through those kinds of things has helped us along and we seem to react a lot better to those kinds of games, and we bounce back with a better game in the following one. It’s always good to see your team to react that way and I think this is an opportunity here to go and be a better team than we were the last time in there as well.”

Throughout this current roll by the Bruins, it has felt more like they’ve had 16 individual games with a point rather than a 16-game point streak. That’s “one game at a time” is more than just a cliche with the Bruins. It’s their mantra, and Julien is their Dalai Lama preaching it every day. That helps them stay eve- keeled, whether they’re romping on the Canadiens at Bell Centre or dragging their sorry rear ends home after getting kicked around in Detroit.

Whether Boston triumphs in its return to Detroit or once again gets humbled, you know that the Bruins won’t let there be any carryover the next night in Toronto or in a potential playoff series with the Red Wings. One result never seems to distract these Bruins from the bigger picture.

Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.

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