Is it me, or do us Bruins fans of long time ago remember the streak of never missing the playoffs? With players like Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Terry O'Reilly, Cam Neely, Adam Oates, Ray Borque, Don Sweeney, Craig Janney, Joey Juneau (had to name him for those who remember the good times), Glen Wesley and others?
For years, we had Joe Thornton... when the team thought he wasn't any good, they trade him to the San Jose Sharks... all he does is win the Heart Trophy (MVP). They trade away Sergei Samsonov, who hasn't done much since due to his diminuative size. Then they had Blaine Lacher, they heralded him as the next Andy Moog. He was a one and done guy, and no one has heard from him since.
The Bruins were a mess lately, and last year wasn't much better, although you can blame cheap injuries as to why they struggled, even though they made the playoffs. They lost Patrice Bergeron to a severe concussion on a cheap shot by Randy Jones. They lost Andrew Alberts to another severe concussion on a cheap shot by Scott Hartnell. It's losing 2 cogs that helped eliminate them in the first round. Glad to say Patrice is back, but Alberts hasn't returned yet.
This year, the Bruins are dominating the NHL, winning 10 straight at home (TD Banknorth Garden), and posing a current record of 19-4-4... being 4 points up on the New York Rangers with 3 games in hand.
Usually, you'd have to have star power, but it's the contributions from the whole unit that makes for this team's success. Let's start with star center Marc Sevard. Last year he was the assister. His defense wasn't spectacular, but this year, I'm proud to say he's a 3 zone player, and contributing statistically by netting 8 goals with 24 assists for 32 points and a +/- of +15. Which tells me that he's aiding.
Next we travel to star forward Phil Kessel. Kessel's speed, agility, hands and heart are driving him to be quite spectacular. Last year during the playoffs Claude Julien (coach) benched Kessel, telling him he needed to play better. Well, this year he definitely got the message. Last year in 82 games, he had 19 goals. This year, he has 17 goals 8 assists and a +/- of +12.
We also need to mention that 2 top defensemen in Aaron Ward and Andrew Ferrance are nursing broken legs, but then along came Mark Stuart, Matt Lashoff and Matt Hunwick. Three perrenial "Baby B's" are making great marks, including Hunwick, who has 10 points in 15 games (3 goals 7 assists).
Their biggest problem is which goaltender to start? Manny Fernandez (8-1-1 2.09 Goals Against Average, save percentage of .926) or Tim Thomas (11-3-3 1.90 Goals Against Average, save percentage of .940). Both have been remarkable as of late, as they both have won in 8 of 9 games played between them, with Fernandez running 7 straight.
Not to mention that the penalty kill has been better, and the power play is showing signs of life. They have tough guys in Shaun Thornton and Milan Lucic, they have hard hitters all over the ice, and truly, I believe this isn't a phase...
GO BRUINS... It's nice to bleed black and gold!!!! Boston... the Hub of Hockey