Maybe they feel obliged to add to Boston's embarrassment of riches in terms of recent sports success.
Maybe they have to.
The Bruins obviously can't match what the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have done lately but these days they seem intent on getting noticed, at least in their own way. Boston isn't only the hottest team in the East right now, it is hands down the most "c'mon really??" around with 10 wins in the last 12 games and only one loss coming in regulation. The Bruins have outscored opponents 42-22 and dominated on special teams during their run, and now sit in first place in the Northeast Division within sniffing distance of the conference lead.
|Marc Savard is Boston's top scorer with seven goals and 18 assists to this point. (Getty Images)|
But the Bruins had Patrice Bergeron coming back from a concussion and several young players who took big, if subtle steps forward last season, and now only two teams have more goals than Boston. What has been most impressive is the balance, with a dozen players scoring at least three goals this season. In the process, Boston's defense hasn't suffered either because goalie Tim Thomas is making a Vezina case for himself and the team has developed a pretty serious work ethic in front of him.
You would think though that it would add up to more love for the Bruins around Boston, but the team is still announcing home crowds of around 15,000, about the same as last year when it ranked 26th in attendance. Then again, Boston hasn't given the locals much to be excited about for the last couple of decades, and losing many fan favorites over money issues hasn't been particularly endearing either.
The sad part is that the area is one of the few true U.S. hockey hotbeds at the collegiate and minor level and the Bruins have been part of the fabric since the mid-1920s, But with 36 years having passed since Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito lifted the Stanley Cup for Boston, and no real contending team since the early '90s, they don't have much of a cache right now in Boston.
So the modern-day Bruins are making the effort to change that with a pretty good lineup that includes talents like Marc Savard, Bergeron, Phil Kessel and bruisers Milan Lucic and Blake Wheeler up front and captain Zdeno Chara leading a very good blue line. The goaltending tandem of Thomas and Manny Fernandez has been as good as any so far, and the Bruins have shown they can play physical games, tight defensive ones and freewheeling run-and-gun affairs like Wednesday night's victory against Buffalo.
That was a victory that probably made Bruins coach Claude Julien want to pull out the few hairs he has left, but the bottom line is that Boston stormed back after allowing three goals in the first five minutes and won 7-4.
"Last year it seemed like when the score got high we didn't win too many games," said center Savard, who leads the team with 25 points. "We'd still like to win games 2-1, but we've shown we can mix things up. We can play any style of game now and win."
In large part that's the work of Julien, who was hired by the Bruins in June 2007, a couple of months after he was let go by the New Jersey Devils with his team in first place on the last weekend of the regular season. Julien, who had also coached in Montreal, was brought in because he was defensive minded and Boston had been 29th in that category the season before.
Under Julien the Bruins improved to 11th in defense but they played what tended to be boring, shutdown types of games. This season they haven't abandoned the coach's defense-first philosophy, but they are taking advantage of the somewhat freer reins he is handing to players, and showing an offensive side few knew existed.
"Claude did make a couple of minor tweaks to increase our production," general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "We've activated our D more, engaging them in the rush and through the neutral zone and we've made our forecheck a little more aggressive. Those kinds of things seem small, but they've paid off."
And a lot faster than anyone might have expected.
"We finished off strong and knew we'd be improved since this year, but we were thinking middle of the pack," Chiarelli said. "This is better than we anticipated of course, but when you have young guys who are improving, you never know what can happen."