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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Beating Phil Kessel Will Never Get Old

We can all agree that the Boston Bruins had a terrible October (3-7-0, last place in the Eastern Conference). However, it is November now and after only two games, this is a completely different squad.

Boston (5-7-0) won their second straight game (for the first time this season) by drubbing Toronto (9-4-1) 7-0 tonight at the Air Canada Centre on Hockey Night in Canada.

The Maple Leafs have played like one of the NHL's top teams in the early going of 2011-12, that is other than when they play the Bruins. Boston waxed them 6-2 at TD Garden on Oct. 20 so after only two games, the B's have outscored them 13-2 (Thank You Kessel Indeed).

No game with Toronto would be complete without comparing Boston's Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel, who were part of a potentially huge trade two years ago. By scoring his first career hat trick, Seguin clearly won this battle since Kessel (the NHL's leading scorer) was kept off the scoresheet by Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas (5-4-0) who made 25 saves in his first shutout of the year.

With a Cornell alum, Ben Scrivens, making only his second NHL start between the pipes, Boston had an obvious advantage as Toronto's young goaltender James Reimer continues to deal with a neck injury. The B's ripped six goals past Jonas Gustavsson at the Garden and they put five behind Scrivens before Gustavsson got called up for mop up duty (allowing two more). Sorry Ben, you're not in the ECAC anymore.

After Seguin's first goal in the first period (his fifth of the season), I tweeted about how he had already morphed into the Bruins' best offensive player and made such a big leap from last season. Little did I know that he'd top that one-timer by batting a loose puck out of mid-air in the second period for a goal then wrapping up his hat trick by rattling one in off where the crossbar and post meet.

A power-play goal and two even-strength strikes in less than two periods, on the road, in your second NHL season, when you're 19-years-old. Yeah, I'd say the kid is going to be decent.

Patrice Bergeron assisted on Seguin's first goal as Boston only led 1-0 after one period. They broke it wide open with four goals in the second period; interestingly enough, they're next six goals all came in quick flurries. Eight seconds apart, 14 seconds apart and finally 28 seconds apart (in the third).

Following the face-off after Seguin's second goal, Milan Lucic was sprung by Zdeno Chara on a partial breakaway and for once, he beat a goalie. David Krejci also assisted on Lucic's fifth of the season.

Bergeron and Brad Marchand assisted on Seguin's third goal (don't worry, they saved the puck). Krejci took advantage of a juicy rebound to get his second goal of the season, from Lucic and Andrew Ference.

Boston could easily have put it on cruise control but they stayed focused and were rewarded with two more goals in the third. Lucic made a great net drive and Krejci found him with a pretty pass (also assisted by Chara) and Gregory Campbell picked up his first goal of the season after some good work by linemate Shawn Thornton.

As NESN's graphic during tonight's broadcast showed, the Bruins have played well against good teams so far this season but struggled against bad ones. Here's hoping the last two games woke them up and they won't sleepwalk nearly as much against teams they should roll over.

Would you believe Boston's next five games are at home? Even better, they should win all of them (Islanders, Oilers, Sabres, Devils, Blue Jackets) or at least get points. No guarantees but if you're a B's fan, you have to like that slate of games coming up. Overall, November looks very favorable and it's not too early for the Bruins to start making up for lost time (October) and going on a run.

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