What exactly did I miss?
Twelve days ago I was sitting on my couch watching the Bruins, fresh off their last minute debacle in Montreal, fall behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-0. At the time I was about halfway through penning my sixth straight hate-piece on my beloved Bruins and I just could not do it. I erased what I wrote, shut the television went off and it was time to devote my attentions to other matters. With a four-game homestand coming up and no obligation to write during that time, it was time to take a break from Bruins hockey.
Little did I know that while I was on strike those very same Bruins I had been trashing over the past month not only came back to beat the Penguins, 4-2, but were putting together some big wins in dominant fashion. I was astounded at the results as I started my pre-game prep for covering the game in Carolina this past Tuesday. Starting with that game in Pittsburgh on January 10, the Bruins went 4-1-0 in the five games I ignored them with the offensively challenged Bruins outscoring their opponents 26-10 during that span and outshooting their opponents in all five contests. Tim Thomas shined in the four wins, adding a pair of shutouts to his now career-high seven. With the emergence of Steven Kampfer and 20 points coming from the point in those games, it seemed the Bruins might be finally getting a grip on that elusive “puck moving defenseman” they have been in search of the past few seasons.
They had climbed to as high as second in the Eastern Conference standings and were back to being that team everyone thought they were the first month and a half of the season. With the Patriots flaming out against the Jets and their season over, all attention came back to the Bruins and the shortsighted pundits were ready to anoint them the next champion of Boston.
I didn’t know what to say.
I was spellbound as I sat in front of my computer on Tuesday night as the Bruins inevitably beat the Hurricanes for the second straight day. The Bruins pulled out a 3-2 win over the ‘Canes, but this time around they finally pulled out a win in a game they were being outplayed. They were playing like the team I hoped they would be, all while I wasn’t paying attention. What could I possibly have said?
I like to think I am not as shortsighted as some who take this recent run since the disaster in Montreal, which has amounted to seven games and a 5-2 record following the loss on Thursday to Buffalo, as a sign the Bruins are a legitimate threat in the East. As much as I want to have faith in this team, I am not crowning them yet, though I am encouraged by the recent reports.
I still hold to the points I have made repetitively that two key factors to the Bruins ultimate successes or demise this season are the play between the pipes and the ability of their top guns to score goals. Thomas continues to prove himself, as he always seems to do whenever anyone counts the 36-year old netminder out, leading the charge for the Black-and-Gold as he has all year. The offense, on the other hand, I still find a bit troublesome as the top line of Milan Lucic, Marc Savard and Nathan Horton struggle to find the top of their game. What I find most encouraging about the Bruins offense is the number of goals generated of late from players up and down the entire roster. The fact grinders Gregory Campbell and Brad Marchand have combined for eight goals and five assists in the past seven games pretty much says it all, but it is also nice to throw in that in their last five wins five different Bruins have recorded the game-winning goal. Even Zdeno Chara is beginning to find his scoring touch again, scoring half of his 10 goals this season in the last seven games, including his first career hat trick.
The Bruins still have a long way to go to prove themselves to me, hopefully taking that first step this afternoon as the puck drops in a few hours against the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado comes in to the game just hours removed from a 5-1 pounding at the hands of the Nashville Predators, and have been struggling of late, with a record of just 4-5 this month, though still clinging to the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Avalanche have pulled off big wins over Vancouver and Detroit in recent weeks and bolster the league’s fourth best scoring offense (3.19 goals per game) and seventh best power play (21.1%), so they are a team to sleep on. Playing to the Bruins favor, however, is the fact Colorado gives up more goals than any other NHL team at home, while the Bruins have the league’s fifth best road record. As long as the Bruins can manage to not find themselves in their customary early hole, keeping the pressure on the Avs offense, they should do all right for themselves.
As I have been saying about this team all season, though, only time will tell, so we will just have to wait until the puck drops in Colorado at 3:00PM EST to find out what happens between the Bruins and the Avalanche. You never know what’s going to happen to this team. Especially when you’re not looking.
About the Author
Written by Matt Preston
I'm no Heminway or Haggerty, but keeping the dream alive, even if I'm pretty sure my Nana is my only follower. Self-deprecation is key, grammar is optional.