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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: Feb 22, 2010
Posted on: December 9, 2011 11:53 am
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

boston and everyone else? Ill give it to the defending champs, theyre playing awesome hockey after a shaky start...but i wouldnt say theyre above everyone...the bruins players said themselves the toughest game theyve played this year was in a loss to the redwings who in turn didnt look all that impressive versus the wild who are first in the west.... So i wouldnt say theyre better then everyone but id put em right up top with wild and wings right now. You gotta give it to boston though, last year nobody cared at all bout the bruins especially come game 7 of the finals...even when they won all you heard was how vancouver lost it not how boston won it. As a wings fan its refreshing to see a couple of original sixes playing well in theyre respective conferences....original 6 finals matchup would be glorious....



Since: Dec 8, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:45 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

is that why the bruins and their fans have 100 stright games with a sellout?



Since: Aug 22, 2007
Posted on: December 8, 2011 9:12 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

perhaps some of these cocky Bruin fans should realize a few things.  1.  At this point last year, they weren't the favorites to win the Cup. 2.  When's the last time someone repeated.  3.  Start talking when you support your team.  Tired of hearing Boston fans talk as if they are the best fans in the WORLD all the while being in the bottom 50% of the league in attendance.  Yeah, even when you guys are good, your fans still suck



Since: Oct 2, 2007
Posted on: December 8, 2011 7:00 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Stanley Cup Champs until someone beats them!!! They weren't going to beat Vancouver either, remember?



Since: Apr 13, 2007
Posted on: December 8, 2011 6:01 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

And then....right on cue.....the Bruins tank one to the Jets, while the Wild steal one in the Shark tank, with a rookie goalie in his first NHL game.

So, I would say....right NOW....it's the Wild, and then everybody else.  Can't ANYBODY beat those Northern lads?



Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:47 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Playing at a level above everyone else ???  Where are you getting your stats?  The B's have to win their next two just to tie the Wild.  (talk about your team with hot goaltending) 



Since: Feb 2, 2009
Posted on: December 8, 2011 3:47 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

enjoy it while you can...at least until the injury bug hits your team. It happens to just about every NHL team every year



Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:03 pm
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

Yikes!  They could have pulled it off if they were hoisting the Cup.



Since: Mar 23, 2010
Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:58 am
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

BTW, regarding the front picture...  This photo wasn't taken during the game.  After the game they asked Marchand and Subban to pose for a photo.  Marchand raised his arm to put it on Subban's shoulder and Subban turtled!

can`t blame Subban, no one on this planet want to be on the same picture like this dirty smelly rat.....expect for this bunch !    



Since: Dec 13, 2007
Posted on: December 8, 2011 7:23 am
 

Right now it's Boston, and then everybody else

There isn't a team in the NHL that can beat the Bruins in a 7 game series IF Tim Thomas continues to play like he has for the last 12 months.  When Timmy's streak ends, the Bruins are just another playoff contender.


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