Thursday, October 30, 2008
Shhhhh! Don't Tell Anyone: The Bruins are Solid
Lost amidst the MLB playoffs, the Patriots and the Celtics' opening night hype, the Boston Bruins are playing good hockey.
After starting out slowly (and losing three shootouts), the B's (5-2-3) have found their groove, winning three straight games.
Last night, they won their second consecutive 1-0 game, in Vancouver (4-5-0) against the Canucks.
10:16 into the first period, Michael Ryder scored his second goal of the season with assists from Marco Sturm and Marc Savard.
From there, Tim Thomas (31 saves) held the fort as the Bruins did just enough to walk away with another road win.
I'll be the first to admit that as much as I enjoy hockey, I couldn't get into the Bruins the last few years. They played the most defensive, suck the fun out of everything brand of hockey I had ever seen. Things changed last spring when they pushed the No. 1 seed Montreal Canadiens to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. Boston got smoked in game seven but it was clear that this team had a lot of potential.
Granted that it was the bumbling Bruins, nobody wanted to get their hopes up too high before this season opened. The beginning was frustrating but they've obviously found their groove. One of the biggest keys to their resurgence and my interest: exciting young talent. Milan Lucic and Phil Kessel both have the chance to be pretty special. Lucic is a physical beast, that put a Maple Leaf through the glass at the Garden last week. Kessel is a wizard with the puck on his stick and he's apparently bought into three-zone hockey this season.
Savard and Zdeno Chara are the best veterans, a center and defenseman respectively and Thomas is a classic overachiever but a very reliable goalie.
The team still has plenty of issues: scoring goals and backup goalie (Manny Fernandez is a corpse) foremost but they've already made me tune into their games whenever I get a chance so they're doing something right.
Finally, the other thing that's nice is that they're under the radar; with the recent success of the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics, seemingly everyone and their mother are the biggest Boston sports fans alive. Nobody has pretended to be a Bruins fan in the last dire decade. You have to be dedicated. That makes it interesting to watch a team grow in front of our eyes as the region slowly sits up and takes note.
The Bruins conclude their Western Canada trip tomorrow with a visit to Calgary. Flames forward Jarome Iginla and defenseman/bounty-hunter Dion Phaneuf are two of the NHL's best so it should be a entertaining game.