Blog Entry

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Posted on: December 6, 2011 5:05 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 5:11 pm

By: Adam Gretz

PITTSBURGH -- When discussing the best goalies in the NHL, Boston's Tim Thomas has to be at the top of the list, head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. With two Vezina Trophies and a Stanley Cup on his resume over the past three years, it's hard to argue otherwise. He's once again near the top of the NHL in every category among netminders this season, and he's playing at the top of his game for a Bruins team that continues to play at a level above every other team in the league over the past month.

Thanks to their 3-1 win in Pittsburgh on Monday night, the Bruins won for the 14th time in their past 15 games going back to Nov. 1. The only loss over that stretch came in a shootout against the Detroit Red Wings the day after Thanksgiving, and it was a game that Boston arguably had the upper hand in for much of the day.

Over the past five weeks, they have recorded a point in the standings every time they have stepped on the ice. Right now it's their league, and everybody else just happens to be playing in it.

What's been incredible to watch during this recent run by the defending Stanley Cup champs is that for as well as Thomas has played this season -- and he's been great -- they haven't had to rely on him to carry the load or win games for them on his own. For the season, the Bruins are currently the second-highest scoring team in the NHL -- behind only Philadelphia -- averaging over 3.40 goals per game, nearly a full-goal above the league average. During their 14-0-1 run they've been averaging over four goals per game, and have scored five or more seven times.

That sort of goal support makes life easier for any player in the crease, even one like Thomas that's put up numbers like few others have in the post-lockout NHL.

"It's been easier mentally because you have confidence that your team is going to find a way to come through," said Thomas on Monday night.

"If the team isn't playing well, sometimes the goalie can make the mistake of trying put all the pressure on himself and try to win a game all by himself. But with the team playing the way it has over the past five weeks, you don't have to go into a game feeling like that."

The Bruins' current run came after a sluggish start that was easily attributed to a "Stanley Cup hangover." After the first month of the season they were 3-7 and riding a four-game losing streak that included back-to-back losses to their long-time rivals from Montreal on Oct. 27 and 29.

They haven't lost in regulation since.

"I felt like in the first four weeks, we just weren't ready mentally," said head coach Claude Julien. "Our guys, although they wanted to, that switch hadn't been turned on yet for the season."

"What's been good about it is that we've found our game again, and we seem like we're a group that's excited to play that way every night. It seems like we've gotten up, i guess that good feeling again, and we're willing to do it night after night. That's the difference. We kind of knew what was going on, it wasn't just games, it was practice, it was hard to get ourselves going again. We were slow out of the gate, and the fact that we rebounded that way is pretty impressive for those guys."

The way they're playing is old-school Bruins hockey -- big and bad, tough and physical. They don't back down from anything, and if you punch them in the mouth they're going to come right back at you. And they also have plenty of skill. For as much talk as there is about their two-headed monster in goal with Thomas and Tuukka Rask, or their massive defensemen Zdeno Chara, they're also incredibly deep up front, rolling four lines, all of which can score, and they can play any type of game they need in order to win.

A skilled finese game. Physical. A 6-5 track meet or a 1-0 slug-fest. Whatever they need to do, they can, and will, do it.

Their leading scorer is still a teenager, second-year sensation Tyler Seguin, and Patrice Bergeron has the look of an early-season favorite to take home the Selke Trophy (he finished in the top-five in voting each of the past two seasons), playing the tough minutes and shutting down the oppositions top-players, opening up scoring opportunities for Seguin and the team's other top-scorers. It's difficult to find a weakness right now.

"We've done a good job just coming to play, coming to find a way to win," said Thomas. "We don't know how we're going to win every night, but we're going to do it different ways, with different guys, but all of us together at the same time. It's been pretty nice to be a part of this team over the past month."

"There's been times were we've fell out of exactly how we wanted to play a couple of times during this streak," Thomas later added. "But then at the same time other guys came through with big nights and bailed us out. That's what makes a good team; not everybody is going to be their best every night, but as long as everybody doesn't feel their best on the same night you're going to find a way to come out on top."

And that's all the Bruins are doing right now: coming out on top.

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Nov 5, 2007
Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:55 pm

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Boston is tough and all, but to say they're in a category of their own is just stupid. A healthy Flyers team will beat them in the ECF this year. And if its not the Flyers vs. Bruins, it will probably be the Penguins or Caps. 4 legit contenders. The rest of the East will involve the Lightning, Panthers, Rangers, and Sabres.

Since: Oct 31, 2011
Posted on: December 7, 2011 11:08 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Apr 30, 2008
Posted on: December 7, 2011 5:04 pm

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Notice how Marchand's beak is growing every time he cheap shots another player....ask Niskanen

Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: December 7, 2011 4:59 pm

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

BTW, regarding the front picture...  This photo wasn't taken during the game.  After the game they asked Marchand and Subban to pose for a photo.  Marchand raised his arm to put it on Subban's shoulder and Subban turtled!

Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: December 7, 2011 4:56 pm

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Did you watch the game?  Boston dominated puck possession.  Since both of these two teams play a puck possession game, I'd say the Bruins had the upper hand.  Unfortunately, they lost.  You can out play the other team and still lose.  Hell, the Bruins were out played a few times during this great run but still managed wins.  The Bruins outplayed Detroit but lost the game.  Simple.

Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: December 7, 2011 4:52 pm

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Perhaps number 1 in points, but not #1 in points per game.  Points are silly anyway.  I can't wait until they get rid of these silly 3 point games.  Two points for a win, 1.5 for a shoot out win and 0.5 for a shoot out loss. 
I love how they ingnore OT losses in the winning percentage.  "Coach so and so has a 0.600 winning percentage at 60-40-20."  WTF?  He won 60 of 120.  Thay my friend is 50%.
Same with you Wild fans.... OT loss points?  Really?  Minnesota is 18-10, Boston is 17-9.  17-10 and 17-8 when this article was written.

East coast bias.... what a bunch of whiners.  The Bruins won 14 out of 15.  They were the best in the NHL during that time period.

Since: Mar 9, 2008
Posted on: December 7, 2011 3:06 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: May 18, 2009
Posted on: December 7, 2011 1:41 pm

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

WOW....Slurp, Slurp, Slurp!!! Now, by everyone else I think he means Detroit. Because as he see's it "a game that Boston arguably had the upper hand". Huh, because if I know anything about hockey it's that Boston LOST to Detroit, who had to travel to Boston for an afternoon thanksgiving day game. I'm still trying to figure out how to spell Detroit in "Everyone else". We know they are good, someone has to finish first in their division. Weird, 'cuz the WIngs have been doing this thing called beating the shit out of the league for 20 straight years(playoffs) and only have 11...yes 11 straight 100 point season's. BEST EVER IN HOCKEY HISTORY! Do any of you know what that means? Simple. It means that their season doesn't start until April/May when EVERYONE else are trying to fight for a playoff spot. So ya, give the Bruins all Dap for winning a Sanley Cup. But when you do it as often and are AS successful, then you can be the Headliner's. But until then, suck it up and take a back seat to HockeyTown. No, I'm not going to get into who is the best Defenceman of All-Time between Orr and Lidstrom. 2 different player's from different era's. The 2 best of ALL-TIME.

Since: Jul 2, 2009
Posted on: December 7, 2011 12:33 pm

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Does anyone sincerely think the Wild will finish at the top of the standings or be a real contender for the Cup?
Did anyone think that Boston was at the begining of last year? 

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2011 10:59 am

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

You need to look this up on YouTube.  PK wasn't turtling at all.  AND Merchand MISSED this punch.

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