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Friday, November 30, 2007

Don't Look Now But...

...Here come the Bruins folks. My prediction before the season started saying this club will be a playoff caliber squad is looking pretty sweet right now. Enough of tooting my own horn though. Entering today, the Bruins are 6th in the Eastern Conference with 28 points (13-8-2) and only 1 point behind the hated Habs for the 5th spot (and 2nd place in the Northeast Division).

If that's not enough to make you giddy, how about this as food for thought. Marc Savard has continued to live up to the contract that he's being paid (unlike a certain tall and lanky defenseman). Savard currently leads the NHL in assists with 24 (5G 24A +6). Glen Murray also appears to have awoken from his season opening coma. Over the past 7 games, Murray has 5G 3A +6. The tandem of Savard and Murray are finally working on the same page and they made some pretty plays against the Flyers.

Not to be forgotten, Tim Thomas (MVP thusfar for the Bruins) continues his stellar play between the pipes. Currently 5th in the league in GAA (2.05) and 1st in save percentage (a mind boggling .940). This guy thrives on having someone nipping at his heels. Last year it was Toivonen, who was clearly outplayed by Thomas, and this year it is rookie phenom Tuukka Rask. It has been a great story to see Thomas finally get some league-wide respect as the journeyman has worked tirelessly to be at the point he is today. Who would have thought that Mike O'Connell made the right move when he re-upped him 3 more years before he was out the door? Amazing.

Like I said before, I'm not drinking the Rask kool-aid yet, but this kid has shown some flashes of brilliance in the games he's been in. He is young, and has plenty to improve upon. But, it seems like this kid is pretty special. Lets just hope he isn't the latest reincarnation of John Blue, John Casey, Andrew Raycroft, et al.

Lastly, as hockey fans, we all know that any successful team is built from the net out. Since I've already talked about goaltending, the next obvious discussion is defense. This team has clearly improved upon its horrific team defense from last year. Even more, it's basically the same squad (Chara, Alberts, Ference, Allen, Mark Stuart, Ward, Wideman). The brief samples of Matt Hunwick and Matt Lashoff have been nice. However, we'll stick with the main staples of the team so far.

In the giving credit where credit is due department, I will say that Chara has been better as of late for the team. It doesn't look like he coughing up the puck and making ill-advised passes in his own zone AS MUCH. Clearly, I'm still expecting more out of the capatain who is making over 7 million a year.

I am loving Andrew Alberts more and more by the day. I like what this guy brings to the table. He has toughness and is starting to show that he can be a good defender as well. Same goes for Mark Stuart, this guy is going to be a solid blue-liner.

Where does all this improvement come from since last year? One word, Claude Julien. This guy seems like a hard ass coach that demands respect and the best out of each player. This is exactly what the Bruins need and what they didn't have last year. Dave Lewis was a softie and couldn't hack it as a motivator and bench boss. Julien, for all the crap he got after being fired last year by the Devils, has been a GREAT coach for Boston so far. This team clearly has a defense first perspective and it's working.

Like I said at the top of the article, don't look now but here come the Bruins.


Blogger Federko said...

Well they certainly have played like a "team" these past few games. The first period of last nights game was the best they have played all season long. When they are passing as quickly and crisply as they did last night they are going to win games. There was a ton of hitting (on both sides) and chippiness and the game was a pleasure to watch and came down to the wire.

I also said it before the season started.. one reason why the Bs will be a better team this year is coaching. They obviously have bought into Juliens' system and are getting more comfortable playing together as a unit. The fact that they have now been together for quite some time helps the situation.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous BosBrn77 said...

I agree with everything in your post except for the references to John Blue, Jon Casey, and Andrew Raycroft! John Blue was not meant to be a starter, he was a backup. As for Jon Casey, we got him at the tail end of his career. He carried the NorthStars to the finals, and was in Boston about 3 years too late for us to use him. And as for Raycroft, I still feel the Bruins gave up on him too quickly. I see Raycroft being similar to a Chris Terrari, in that he is a good goalie if he has another goalie to split time with.
Boston has gone thru far too many goalies since Moog and Lemelin. And they gave up on some way too soon.
But as for the current squad.... I like what I am seeing. But with Bergeron out of the lineup, the rest of the team has to step it up a lot. So far, so good. But it is still early. I'd still like to see Julien allow them to open it up at times. Kessel, Savard, Murray, Kobasew, Sturm, and Schaefer need to be given the green light a little more often.
Can they make the playoffs? Yes, but I think they will squeak in at the 7th or 8th seed.

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

two things, what is the latest on bergeron?? and where do the bruins sit for cap space.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous JHa said...

Update on the status of Bergeron care of

Patrice Bergeron is returning to his native Quebec for an indefinite period of time. Bergeron is still suffering from the severe concussion he suffered more than a month ago. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said that the youngster may remain with his family in Quebec through Christmas. According to the GM, Bergeron is improving, but only slowly. It doesn't look like he'll return this season.

Not a great outlook if you put some stock in this.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chara is by far our best defenseman. As far as his 7+mil contract, at the time it was either pay him the money, or watch a rival take him. I would make that signing again in a heartbeat. The Ducks may have gotton Pronger, but they were deep enough to make that trade, the Bruins weren't, se they did the next best thing and signed Chara. Top 5 d-man in the league, no doubt.

10:15 AM  

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