Ten straight wins.
Twenty unblemished points.
Best record in the Eastern Conference.
So much for the post-Olympic hangover.
In the past 42 days, the Bruins have lost only two games in regulation. During the Olympic break, the Canadian Olympic team went all-in on Claude Julien's style of puck control, defense on offense and letting Patrice Bergeron loose.
Team Canada left Sochi with gold.
Julien didn't get a medal in Russia. He will get a ring from Team Canada for his Olympic efforts sometime this summer. Whether he gets once from the Bruins, as well, will be determined how well he and the team can carry over this March march into the spring.
The past month looks like this for Julien: an Olympic gold medal, 10 wins in 12 starts and 21 out of a possible 24 points, one hellacious sunburn. Since the Olympic flame was extinguished, he's conquered more ice-covered territory than Vladimir Putin
The Bruins had their "Curse of the Dempstino" moment when the NHL trade deadline came and the team emerged with defenseman Andrej Meszaros and not the second-coming of Brian Leetch. Peter Chiarelli blew it, according to conventional hockey wisdom and those breathless talk-show hot takes, because the Bruins failed to blow up one or more of their lines in a desperation move to acquire someone [see Thomas Vanek] that would put them over the proverbial hump in the Stanley Cup Final.
"Havard must have lowered their standards for that guy."
The Bruins were timid at the trade deadline, perhaps for good reason. For one, it's hard to make any deal when the other guy doesn't like what you have to offer. Maybe there was no good reason not to make a "blockbuster" deal a couple of weeks ago because the makings of winning team were already there. While the Olympics may have interrupted the flow of the season, they gave the team a perfect break and spring board to their current success. After recovering from jet lag and all that funny-looking water, the Bruins are playing rejuvenated and revitalized hockey.
There are caution markers all over the place. Naturally, the full-time contrarians will lament: "Too bad they aren't doing this in June." For one thing, it's still March. There's nothing happening right now that can negatively affect play in the spring, save for a serious injury. Playing well now doesn't mean the team will automatically falter in a month or two. That's foolishness.
The Bruins won on back-to-back nights again Tuesday, beating the Devils 4-2 in New Jersey. They are an astonishing 11-2-0 on the back end of back-to-back affairs. That's a better number than the team's record on the front end [10-2-1] when it plays games on consecutive nights. Outside of I-495, Bergeron rarely cracks the top five on any expert's "Best NHL Center" list. But inside the arena, he's always where the Bruins need him to be. In Boston's past six games, Bergeron has scored three goals, added five assists and is, drumroll please, a hefty +6.
A rising Bergeron lifts all boats. Just ask Brad Marchand. He scored his fifth shorthanded goal of the season Tuesday. It came off a quick pass from Bergeron, bedeviling New Jersey just 54 seconds after it had tied the game 1-1 in the second period.
The defense, which was doomed once the deadline passed, has allowed two or fewer goals in the past six games. Backup goalie Chad Johnson, Tuesday's winner, is 9-0-1 in his past 10 starts and has a 2.14 GAA and 15 wins in his 22 starts this season.
Bruins Chad Johnson > Patriots Chad Johnson.
In true Julien style, there is equitable distribution of ice time. Something he would no doubt argue is an integral element in Boston's Beast-in-the-East 99 points and 47-17-5 record this season.
First Line. Second Line. Merlot Line. Fribble Line. Green Line. Blue Line. Red Line. It doesn't matter, everyone is getting a ticket for this train.
Loui Eriksson, and Carl Soderberg, both of whom have struggled often this season, have fused to create a productive and dynamic third line. The Swedes paired up for a sweet goal Monday night and both assisted on Chris Kelly's goal in Tuesday's victory. Jarome Iginla also tied Johnny Bucyk for 25th all-time on the NHL scoring list with his 556th career goal. Iginla also led all forwards with a whopping 17:24 of ice time.
So the player who leads the team with 26 goals and is second with 56 points sat for 42:36.
In Claude We Trust. All he needs is a hoodie during the morning skate.
The Bruins are playing marvelous and enjoyable hockey. They have jelled. "Team Chemistry" works best at 20 degrees. NESN's skillfully produced "Behind the B" series has crafted an image of a team Bostonians love to love. The Bruins are humble and confident, Gritty and gregarious. Winning, not whining. Denis Leary's narration adds even more dramatic blue-collar effect. Completely true or not, it's all working.
The biggest off-ice challenge the Bruins faced was Shawn Thornton's 15-game suspension after his sucker punch to Brooks Orpik. Thornton served his time and returned to the respect and adoration of his teammates. His annual "Cuts For A Cause" charity event on March 28 will be another well-attended affair, with thousands pouring in to aid kids battling cancer.
[No, I have not been asked to either shave my head or remove my hat and sunglasses for any cause.]
Julien sits alone in second place on the team's all-time coaching victory list. Art Ross [he of the trophy], is first at 361. His 302nd win for the Bruins silenced a sell-out crowd of mostly Devils fans at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Bruins fans use the Prudential Center in Boston for watching Duck Boat parades. Given what's transpired in the past two weeks, it's not unreasonable to ponder another public viewing in June.
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