Monday, December 01, 2008
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE BEST TEAM IN THE NHL IS... THE BOSTON BRUINS
You may have missed it with the Celtics playing, and Oklahoma beating Oklahoma State, but the Bruins hosted the Stanley Cup Champions Saturday night, and they crushed them.
Before Saturday night, the Red Wings had lost in regulation just once.
Before Saturday night, the Red Wings had been held to 1 goal just once.
The Bruins beat the Red Wings in regulation 4-1. They withstood an opening barrage of shots from Detroit, but it was the Bruins who found the back of the net twice in the 1st period. Detroit got on the board 3/4 of the way thru the 2nd, making it a 3-1 game. But it was too little, too late.
Manny Fernandez was unshakable. He stopped 29 of 30 shots and is 7-1-1 this season. The B's have the best goaltending tandem in the League by far.
The Bruins have won 9 straight home games.
The Bruins were 11-1-1 in November.
The Bruins are 16-4-4. Last year they didn't get win number 16 until December 10th. They didn't get to 36 points until December 12th. They're on pace for 123 points, which would be their most ever.
With Thomas and Fernandez, they're all set in goal. Thomas should be starting the All-Star Game, but Montreal fans are stuffing the ballot like Alexei Kovalev stuffs Michael Komisarek in the locker room if you know what I mean.
Zdeno Chara's having a good offensive season again and has been a force on the power play and the penalty kill.
Michael Ryder's finding the back of the net lately. He had a pair of assists against Detroit.
Marco Sturm was heating up before he got a concussion. He scored twice against Montreal a couple weeks ago.
Matt Hunwick came up from Providence and the speedy defenseman has been all over the ice. He's got 3 goals, 5 assists, and he's +10 in only 12 games.
David Krejci is one of the safest puck possession players in the NHL. And he seems to be learning from Marc Savard when it comes to setting up his teammates. He's got 7 goals and 12 assists, and when players like Sturm or Ryder have struggled, they've been "demoted" to Krejci's line where they suddenly heat up.
Dennis Wideman has averaged about 25 minutes of ice time per game, and he's been productive all 25 minutes. 6 goals, including a shorthanded tally. And he's +13.
Shawn Thornton is averaging 2 penalty minutes a game, which is made more impressive by his 9 minutes of ice time. He's got 6 fighting majors this season. But even he's in the black at +2.
Phil Kessel's become a complete player. Last year, he was just a fast kid. But Coach Julien has molded him into a team player, and a defensive player, which allows Kessel to create counterattacks, which are perfect for his speed. He's scored points in 9 straight games. He's on pace to score 44 goals.
Marc Savard continues to be an assists monster. He's 2nd in the League with 22. He's also 4th in +/- at +13. And he's scoring goals, not just assisting. Last year he only scored 15 goals, this year he already has 8.
Blake Wheeler has surprised everyone, except maybe the Bruins' front office. He's got 8 goals, 4 assists, and he's +12. He scored in his NHL debut on October 9th, and netted a hat trick on November 6th.
Milan Lucic has made impressive strides over the past 365 days. Last November he was getting 5 to 8 minutes of ice time and was an occasional scratch. Now he's getting 15 minutes a game, is an offensive threat (6 goals, 9 assists compared to 1 goal, 1 assist at the end of last November), and he's even more dangerous to the opposition. He's the NHL leader in Hits with 100.
The Bruins are deep, well rounded, and stout. They have speed and explosiveness, mixed with strength and grit.
The Big Bad Bruins be back.