The Boston Bruins faced their toughest test of the season this past week. With Milan Lucic and Marc Savard sidelined for the next month, and Chuck Kobasew gone to Minnesota via trade, the Bruins relied on some new faces, and saw the resurgence of an old one.
Being forced to face adversity this early in the season can only serve to help Boston down the road…provided they can win these games.
Over the past three games, the Bruins have shown a great deal of heart and determination — although they have had their share of mistakes, perhaps caused by all the new faces, the boys in black collected 5 out of a possible 6 points,including an improbable shootout victory Saturday night in Ottawa.
This win comes on the tail end of a win in Nashville and a shootout loss to Philadelphia, continuing Boston’s win,loss,win start to the 2009/10 season.
Last season, the Bruins cruised to a comfortable 116 point showing, never having to face serious adversity. Now, with Kessel in Toronto and Lucic and Savard injured, last year’s top line is gone, forcing the remainder of the squad to elevate their game.
One member of the Black and Gold who has picked up his play is Patrice Bergeron. His T.O.I has increased from less than 16 minutes against Phoenix (Lucic’s last game) to 21:01 on Saturday night. He has an unimpressive 2 points over that span, but the effort, intensity and confidence that Bruins scouts saw in him is finally back. Bergeron knows that they spotlight is now on him, and he is not shrinking.
For all of the criticism that the Bruins have been taking (I’ve been giving my fair share) thus far this season, they are only 2 points shy of where they were at this time last year. That’s not to say that these are the same old Bruins: To date, the biggest concern for this team continues to be special teams, which not only failed to score a power play goal, but allowed its 3rd shorthanded goal of the season. Sheesh!
They simply need to get better in this department. First of all, STOP DUMPING THE PUCK IN! Carry it into the zone with speed, please.
Never fear, Claude Julien is here. Boston’s special teams will improve.
He was simply stellar this week. Making a number of key saves and giving the Bruins not just a chance to win games, but giving them the confidence to do so. After the Bruins came back to take the lead against Nashville, Thomas shut out the Predators and after a day off on Friday, came out with his most complete effort thus far. He was in true Vezina form when he robbed Daniel Alfredsson.
The next month will be a true test of character for the Boston Bruins. They’re being forced to play tough, grinding hockey, which will only benefit them come April.
HOT: Daniel Paille – You have to love his tenacity and hockey sense. He’s very creative with the puck and never gives up. A definite upgrade over Kobasew.
NOT: Dennis Wideman – Boy, when he’s bad, he’s REALLY BAD. A number of turnovers tonight (well, every night really) and just looked lost. To Providence, perhaps?