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
 
thomas1

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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Comments

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2011 10:58 am
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

I must have read the standings wrong. It showed the Wild had a 4 pt lead over Boston and they won last night with there 3rd string goalie.

not like the Wild were thoroughly dominated last night or anything. Does anyone sincerely think the Wild will finish at the top of the standings or be a real contender for the Cup? no way.



Since: Jul 21, 2010
Posted on: December 7, 2011 10:26 am
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

I must have read the standings wrong. It showed the Wild had a 4 pt lead over Boston and they won last night with there 3rd string goalie.



Since: Apr 22, 2008
Posted on: December 7, 2011 10:06 am
 

LOVE THE PICTURE ON THE FRONT

I JUST LOVE THE PICTURE ON THE FRONT FOR THIS ARTICLE.
LITTLE MERCHANT THROWING A PUNCH AT THE TURTLING PK SUBBAN.
That is the perfect picture to sum up PK.
Too bad its not a Flyer doing it I would have a poster made.



Since: Jul 2, 2009
Posted on: December 7, 2011 9:44 am
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Oh so they lead the league in points???

Oh they dont?

hmmmmm

then Id have to say this article is biased to an east coast team, again. 



Since: Apr 16, 2008
Posted on: December 7, 2011 9:17 am
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Except: The Wild have more wins, less losses, more points, and started the season losing 6 of 9, so I guess they have played ok since.  But I guess Statistics mean nothing when you aren't supposed to be where you are!



Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: December 7, 2011 12:46 am
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

UMM,  IT AIN'T EVEN CHRISTMAS YET !!    yes, they're lookin better than good, but as any true nhl fan knows, we got nearly 6 months left, n ANYTHING , can happen in the playoffs !!!   settle down fella !!  uncup the gnards, n release the shaft.  jeeze !!



Since: Mar 17, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:27 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Excellent timing.  They just lost to Winnipeg.



Since: Aug 12, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 10:18 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

What a bunch of East Coast bias!  Not a mention of the team with the most points in the NHL...... THE WILD!!!! Best goalie tandem and best defensive and young team....give the Wild some love East Coast!



Since: Nov 15, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 9:33 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

as long as Thomas is healthy come playoff time every thing will be all right



Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 9:03 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

I agree. It's way too early to be talking like this. I'm a Bruins fan and at some point I know the winning ways will stop and we will have a slump (hopefully just a small one). The media talked up the Sox and look what happened to us. We played like the worst team in baseball when it counted the most. The B's are definitely on a roll but I'd much rather just watch them play and not listen to all the media band wagon jumpers.


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