In light of the Bruins being off right now due to the All Star break, their trip to the White House in our nation’s capital on Monday and President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, I figured it might be fitting to put together my own address to Bruins Nation on the current state of the Bruins as they enjoy a much-needed week off. So here it goes, I hope you enjoy it:
My fellow Bruins die-hards, I come to you today in waiting for tonight’s All Star weekend festivities; one of the most entertaining nights of the year, as the NHL’s All Stars will square off on the ice of Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place in a skills competition. A night where the players temper their normal aggressions and focus their competitive energy in a more light-hearted way. The skills competition is much more of an exhibition for fans of the sport then a competition for the players. They will skate, they will shoot, and more than likely they will laugh as their amazing skill and talent is on display.
At this juncture in the season, we’re all able to sit back and catch our breath, as we ready ourselves for the grueling final third of the 2011-2012 season. To this point, as we sit just under 50 games into the season, our beloved black and gold have performed more than admirably in their first Stanley Cup defense since the days of Orr and Esposito.
Our Bruins currently own the second best record in the Eastern Conference, behind only the New York Rangers, and the fourth best record in the entire NHL at 31-14-2. A feat made even more impressive by the fact that Boston started out the season with a lowly 3-7 record through their first 10 games. After things hit rock bottom with a home and home sweep by the Montreal Canadiens, the pair of disappointing losses closing the books on the opening month of the season, undoubtedly a forgettable one for the boys.
However, as the calendar turned to November, things began to click for the team that calls Causeway Street their home. With a 5-3 home victory, something that had certainly been rare in the early goings of the season, the Bruins began to find their groove as they ripped off an unprecedented 10-game win streak and near perfect month. The B’s went 12-0-1 during the month of November, their only blemish a 3-2 shootout loss at home against the Detroit Red Wings, the team that currently sits atop the league standings.
They’ve managed to ride the momentum of that stellar November, though, only losing four more games in regulation and just once more in overtime since the loss to the Wings. By and by, the boys who don the spoked B on a nightly basis have proven that their magical, and some may say Cinderella, Stanley Cup run from last summer was definitely no fluke. They’ve gotten it done in a way that has come to be familiar to Bruins faithful, displaying stingy defense backed up by exceptional goaltending. They continue to be a very tough team to score on, boasting the fourth best goals against average in the NHL.
Something that has sort of come as a surprise to many of us this year, though, has been the explosive nature of the Bruins’ offense. For a team that, over the course of the last few seasons, has always seemed to struggle when it came to putting the puck in the net,the 2011-2012 edition of the black and gold has taken a complete 180 from the goal-starved teams of the past. Statistically, Boston is the best offensive team in the NHL. They are currently scoring at a per-game clip of 3.53, and have scored the most goals in the league with 166. Better numbers than teams like Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Vancouver. Teams that are generally thought of to be much better scoring clubs than your Boston Bruins.
Amazingly enough, the way they’ve produced the aforementioned offense has been with a complete team effort. They don’t have a single player in the top 20 in the league in scoring. The teams’ leading scorers, are tied with 43 points a piece, which places them at 24th in the league for points. They have gotten it done with depth and multiple players chipping in. They have 10 players with 20 or more points, 6 more in double digits for points, 7 players with double-digit goals and 12 players in double digits for assists. We, as Bruins fans, have grown accustomed to seeing coach Claude Julien roll all 4 of his lines, with all 4 capable of chipping in offensively while at the same time executing their coach’s system perfectly and always playing with a certain defensive responsibility.
It’s definitely been quite the season thus far. We’ve seen two of Boston’s brightest young stars lead the way as Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand top the team in goals with 19 and 17 respectively. We’ve seen the resurgence of Patrice Bergeron, the once great young star who burst onto the scene with 20 goals as an 18-year-old but who’s career was temporarily derailed by a gruesome hit from behind and bad head injury. Bergeron has once again taken place among the league’s elite stars and getting recognition throughout the league from both players, coaches, management and media alike. We’ve watched Tuukka Rask challenge the Bruins Vezina and Conn Smythe winning Tim Thomas in goal, as the two have formed the NHL’s best goaltending duo. We’ve seen Benoit Pouliot trade in his blue, blanc et rouge digs for the spoked B and become an integral member of the top-9 forwards. We’ve even watched Andrew Ference embark on what looks to be a career year as he currently has 20 points so far, just 7 behind perennial all star and captain Zdeno Chara.
Sure the season has also had it’s down points. The slow start was maddening for the organization and fan base alike. We’ve had to endure our share of suspensions and fines to this point of the season, a natural consequence of the style in which our Bruins play the game, walking that line all the way through and always bringing an edge with them to the ice. This is a style, though, that myself and all of Bruins nation celebrate and enjoy, and despite some of the infractions, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Most recently, we’ve seen Nathan Horton go down with what is thought to be a concussion, his status post-All Star Game still somewhat in doubt.
Throughout it all, though, it has been a title defense to remember. It’s clear that the black and gold has reestablished itself as one of the very best franchises in the league. They are one that is feared throughout, as teams know whenever they are gearing up to face Boston they are certainly in for a very rough game up against one of the toughest and most talented groups in the NHL. Us as fans really could not have asked for more to this point, as our team is clearly once again a Stanley Cup contender and come April, when all bets are off and only 16 teams remain in the hunt for the most prized trophy in sports, you can bet that Boston will be there, ready to take their title defense another four rounds into June.
So for now, my fellow Bruins fans, sit back this weekend and relax. Enjoy the display of skill and talent in tonights Skills Competition. Watch as some of our boys join the league’s best in Ottawa for this weekend’s celebration of the sport of hockey.
Tuesday night, against the Ottawa Senators, they get back to work as we look towards what is hopefully another championship summer in Boston.
Believe in Boston.