Regarding the Boston Bruins, the hot story over the next 24 hours will be their incredible game-tying comeback with their goalie (Tuukka Rask) pulled to score two goals in the last two minutes of their Tuesday night game against the New York Rangers. Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand scored to tie the score 3-3, and the ecstatic hometown fans then saw the team get at least 1 point for taking the game to overtime, where it lost in a shootout. But no matter. This Bruins team was down 3-0 early in the third period and showed why they are one of the best teams in the NHL in this period and in the league overall. No lead is safe for this team to overcome right now.
Over this past weekend, the B’s got a must have revenge win against division rival Buffalo Sabres. A couple of weeks back, Sabres scorer (and Bruins killer) Thomas Vanek accumulated five points, including a hat trick, to lead his team over the B’s 7-4 and hand them their first regulation loss of the season. With their rematch on February 10, the B’s won 3-1, taking their overall record to 8-1-1 (17 points), which is the best record through 10 games in franchise history.
This team has a well-balanced offensive threat that includes young stars like Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, and veterans likes the rough and tough Milan Lucic and the smarts of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. With Tim Thomas bizarrely and selfishly deciding to take this season off long ago, Rask knew it would be his team now for good – he filled in for an injured Thomas for about half of a season a few years back – and he has once again proven to be every bit the #1 goalie that Thomas was. I had my doubts coming into the season, but his ability to win low-scoring (1-0) games, keep the team in it to win tough games against top-tier teams and division rivals has already convinced me he has what it takes to carry this team to a Stanley Cup.
Defensively, the B’s still have captain Zdeno Chara, and less talked about but significant line mates like Dennis Seidenberg. And then there are respected tough guys like Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton sparking the team and exciting fans with fights when necessary, and also the fast-emerging rookie Dougie Hamilton, who early on displayed wise beyond his years passing and scoring skills.
In this lockout-shortened 48-game season, you couldn’t have asked for a better start to a season than what the Bruins have achieved this far. But that doesn’t guarantee a championship run. Boston’s previous best start to a season was 16 points in their first 10 games, last done in 1978-1979 (7-1-2) and that was no banner year.
With other Eastern Conference teams off to good starts (New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Ottawa), and the Rangers still an elite team, the road to the Stanley Cup will no doubt get a bit bumpy for the B’s. But right now, even though it’s still relatively early, this team is playing like the title contenders they are.