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Fear the ‘Stache: A Movember to Remember

Posted By Matt Preston On Dec 1 2011 @ 12:17 am In Boston Bruins | No Comments

It has been 30 days of bliss for the city of Boston and their beloved Bruins. A truly lovely and historic month of November.

The month of October was nothing short of a disaster for the Boston Bruins. The first month of the team’s Stanley Cup defense culminated on October 29 with a 4-2 loss to the Canadiens on a night Boston was getting pounded by a snowstorm that left much of the state without power. That loss dropped the Bruins to 3-7-0, which was good enough for last place in the Eastern Conference. Many were hitting the panic button [1], desperately close to writing the team off for this season and ready to blow-up the roster.

In the blink of an eye, everything changed. Not only was the city treated to one of the three warmest Novembers on record, but the Bruins also treated their fans with their first month without a regulation loss since 1969, culminating this evening with their 6-3 win in Toronto over the Maple Leafs. The win runs the Bruins’ record to 15-7-1, good enough for second in the Eastern Conference, one point behind conference-leading Pittsburgh. The Champs are not just back, but better than they were during their run last season.

The Bruins struggle to score has become a distant memory as they doubled their offensive output from October, where they mustered a measly 2.2 goals a game, to November, where they put up 4.54 goals per game. The defense, never a huge concern despite the team’s struggles as the Bruins were still near the top of the league after giving up 2.50 goals per game in October, gave up the same amount of goals in November (25) while playing three more games. Despite being one of the worst teams just one month ago, the Bruins now lead the NHL in wins (15), are second in goals scored per game (3.39) and third in goals against per game (2.13). The team does not have anyone in the Top 10 in scoring in the NHL – team leader Tyler Seguin is tied for 13th with 24 points – but have five of the top six in terms of plus/minus. Goaltender Tim Thomas’ 1.93 goals against average is good enough for fifth amongst goaltenders with at least 10 starts, while the goaltender currently rides a career-best nine-game winning streak.

More important than the statistics, however, has been the team’s demeanor on the ice throughout their last 13 games. The Bruins’ composure and resilience has become second to none. With a goal differential of -3 in the first period of games this season, the Bruins get better as games go on, generally playing their best hockey in the third period, where they have a goal differential of +20, far and away the best in the NHL. After tonight’s win in Toronto, which saw the Leafs take an early 1-0 lead, the Bruins are 8-8-1 in games they trail by a goal at any point in the contest and 2-4 in games they fall behind by two. A general fear for the Bruins last season until well into their post-season was they could not come up with a goal when they needed it. That is no longer the case.

The Bruins can now come up with that goal and there seems to be no shortage of players who seemingly have the potential to score it. Not only did eight different Bruins contribute game-winning goals in the 12 November wins, but since head coach Claude Julien’s most recent shuffling of his forward lines prior to a win against Ottawa on November 1 each of the top three units has taken their turns dominating the opposition. The defensive corps has also stepped in to contribute offensively, something that lacked greatly earlier in the year. Captain Zdeno Chara is tied for second on the team in scoring with 18 points after putting up a career best 14 points this month with four goals and 10 assists, while newcomer Joe Corvo is tied for fifth on the team with 10 assists this season.

Though there are still some concerns with the Bruins – most notably the wildly inconsistent trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton, and an over taxation of Thomas – and there is still a long road ahead, they have become a virtual well-oiled machine. Much like the facial hair grown this month, November will be missed, but as the calendar turns to December, it is as though the season starts anew. The fingers are officially off the panic button as the sins of October have been nullified and Boston is exactly where they should be, near the top of both their division and the conference.

Must have been the mustaches.

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[1] Many were hitting the panic button: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2011/10/29/taking-it-all-back/

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