As an avid, season-ticket holder for the Bruins, I have been able to witness some pretty drastic changes in this original six team. Yes, the Bruins haven't won Lord Stanley’s Cup since 1972 (Ironically enough, when they did win that year, there was an engraving error and Boston was spelled “Bqstqn” on it).
However, this team which gained some attention-grabbing momentum near the end of the 2007/2008 season (right before and during the playoffs), has managed to be at the top of the conference as we near the half-way mark of this season.
To many people’s surprise, no one can quite seem to figure out how they have managed to get to where they are, especially since none of the possible big trades that were rumored to take place in the off-season for Sergei Gonchar or Marian Hossa.
Instead the Bruins settled for Michael Ryder who was predicted to possibly reach a tally of about 35 goals for this season (he currently stands at eight).
Fortunately for that team, despite making the headlines briefly with that trade, no one estimated that last year’s youngsters such as Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and the newly acquired Blake Wheeler would play at such a high level.
Each of these players has an incredibly well-developed hockey I.Q. on the ice and contribute heavily to the offense.
It appears that coach Claude Julien has changed his game strategies heavily. He previously emphasized on defense, but it appears that the team has very balanced scoring offensively and just about anyone on the ice is a threat now, especially Phil Kessel who is having a tremendous year. He is just a few goals away from a season high record for his career.
This team that struggled to find comfort and momentum last year has been able to outscore opponents in an incredible way, and have also found ways to win games that none could believe plausible if asked about last year; they are just very dynamic and aggressive: so far it’s paying off.
Many could argue that old-time hockey is back in Beantown and it sure seems that way lately. The players are just on what appears to be an unstoppable streak, which could only be matched by the San Jose Sharks in the Western conference.
The team isn’t playing just to play, they are now playing with a will that can be felt across the TD Banknorth Garden at every home game, and on the bench during away games.
For the past few years they were never considered a real threat to anyone and the wheels have now spun. They are working as a team, attacking as a team, fighting together as a team, spreading the scoring. and have a very strong goalie rotation.
Speaking of which, these two goalies, Thomas and Fernandez are both having quite a season; especially Fernandez who was not very respected by the fans until recently.
Thomas is looking like a strong favorite for the Vezina trophy so far, as we approach the end of the season’s first half.
Although no one can really nail the reason for the Bruins’ success this season, the chemistry, the passing, the offense, and the defense are top notch and they would make their alumni team proud, at least so far this season.
If they can maintain a healthy roster, they have enough depth in the roster to be strong contestants. They have suffered from injuries to Sturm who has a concussion, but have brought up both Matt Lashoff and Matt Hunwick which should reinforce the defense while also enabling the farm system players to get valuable experience at a higher level of profession.
Both youngsters have been pretty impressive so far, and if another defensemen were to go down, they could become critical to the long-term success of the team, especially with Ward on the verge of being placed on the disabled list.
But against this roster, even the mighty Habs looked nearly powerless so far in the few on-ice confrontations they have had. And not just them. The Bruins had a though early beginning to the season with a schedule that featured a majority of away games and a home opener against the Penguins.
Despite that, they mostly got Ws and seldom lost any of the games in regulation time.
Even as I type this, the Bruins are “one-siding” the Thrashers on a score of 7-3 with goals from six different players! This sort of thing never happened last year, or hardly.
The fans were begging for goals last year, where they averaged less than 2.5 per game (I can’t recall the exact number). The first 13 games I went to last season were all losses until they finally picked some momentum and won four straight, including the now legendary game six vs. Montreal.
This season so far has been incredible and they only seem to be getting better. Only the second half of the season will allow them to set a strong mark as they keep scoring their way closer and closer to a well-deserved top seed playoff spot.
Call of old time hockey, or old-time hockey, either way, this turnaround is just amazing!