Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lynn Zinser of the New York Times,
Vaulting to a 21-5-4 record, with a roster filled with young, fresh faces who play a fun style of hockey, the Bruins have finally softened the heart of their city.
“In Boston, it’s a tough crowd,” General Manager Peter Chiarelli said. “People are now critiquing how we win. You know what? This is a good sign.”
The Bruins have lost only three games since the beginning of November, one of them in a shootout to the Rangers. They have won 16 times in that span, including a 5-3 victory last Monday against the Lightning. And they ended up lamenting having given up the three goals to Tampa Bay.
But the fans loved every minute. They watched one of their young stars, 21-year-old Phil Kessel, score at least a point for his 12th straight game, a streak he has stretched to 15 games. They howled at every hit and shot taken by Milan Lucic, who at 20 is fast becoming a folk hero for his scrappy play. Lucic is constantly serenaded by chants of “Luuuuu,” from an increasingly boisterous crowd.
from Bud Barth of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette,
Defenseman Dennis Wideman, a relative graybeard by comparison at age 25, was talking about the explosive development this season of the Bruins’ Baby Bombers — Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Matt Hunwick, Blake Wheeler and even Wideman himself.
“Those guys are all 100 times better than they were last year,” Wideman said, ignoring the fact that his improvement curve is just as steep. “If they keep going like this, and keep getting better and keep working, it’s scary what they could accomplish.”
It’s already frightening to see how far they’ve come just up till now. You can throw Patrice Bergeron into this bunch, too, considering he’s only 23 years old and is showing such remarkable progress in rebounding from that awful concussion of last year.
Without going up and down every roster, it’s clear that there’s not another NHL team that (a) has such a wide array of young talent, and (b) has seen such a drastic improvement in that many players in such a short period of time.
Boston Bruins VP Cam Neely will be the guest on today’s edition of NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman. The show is on now, from 4-5 p.m. ET on XM Satellite Radio (204) and Sirius (208).
You can also listen live online at the NHL Network Online once the show starts.
* While on the air, listeners can call into the show at 1-877-645-6696, or send questions/comments via this email address: email@example.com
**Archived shows available for download via podcast on NHL.com.
From Mike Milbury, blogging on CBC.ca:
So what gives?
Every GM looks for strength down the middle. It starts with a good goalie, then a key pair of defencemen and a top-10 scoring/playmaking centre.
In the backend, goalie Tim Thomas has to be a candidate for a couple of major NHL awards at this point in the season including MVP. He has been outstanding. Zdeno Chara has overcome a tentative start and is back on his game while Dennis Wideman has become an elite NHL defenceman this year.
And up front? The much-maligned Marc Savard has found the full measure of his game with help from head coach Claude Julien and looks like a much more committed player. And speaking of the coach, there is no doubt that he has to be given much of the credit for the continued rise of the franchise.
from Shira Springer of the Boston Globe,
Something strange is happening in Boston. The Bruins matter. A proud, old hockey town has rediscovered its pulse. When was the last time anyone could say that?
This young and feisty team has vaulted to unexpected relevance with 18 wins in its first 26 games, and to first place in the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference. Built from the ground up by a revitalized front-office team, the new Bruins aren’t exactly big or bad, but they have so far showcased the essential elements of success on ice: shifty scorers, a fists-up enforcer, a towering defenseman, a rock in goal. And not one household name in the bunch. Not yet.
Average attendance is up 10 percent; pro shop sales, 30 percent. Home game sellouts are no longer a dream but a growing expectation. Even the team’s flatline TV ratings, rivaled only by the New England Revolution for local sports broadcast oblivion, have begun to perk up.
It’s enough to make Cam Neely jump out of his seat.
from Mike Milbury of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
Today marks the official start of the Montreal Canadiens’ 100th anniversary.
Pardon me if I don’t feel like joining the party.
For the Habs fans, this begins a few months strolling down memory lane. For me, it’s like bringing out the skeletons in the closet.
For three straight years from 1977-1979, my Boston Bruins squared off against the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And three times, we were sent home a little too early.
If the two teams were cars, the Montreal Canadiens were the Porsches of the NHL. Sleek, fast, streamlined. The top of the line….
And the Bruins? We were just an old, rusty Dodge pick-up truck. Hey, nothing wrong with dependability.
read on for some memories from Mike…
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
(Blake) Wheeler and linemates David Krejci and Michael Ryder have combined to be the Bruins’ most dangerous offensive threesome of late. Wheeler has a goal in each of the last two wins. Krejci has at least 1 point in the last six games. Ryder potted two goals against the Islanders and added two assists against Detroit.
All of that production comes with a rookie playing an unfamiliar position.
Before this season, Wheeler had played mostly center and right wing. But with the Bruins having less depth on the left side, they auditioned the righthanded-shooting Wheeler on his off wing during training camp. Coaches and management liked what they saw and have shown no hesitation in showcasing the rookie as a left wing during the recent hot streak.
“I think it gives us a little more luxury in moving guys around,” coach Claude Julien said. “At the beginning of the year, the question mark was whether we were going to keep him and where we were going to play him.
from MultiChannel News,
NESN Thursday will debut The Instigators, a weekly show featuring Boston Bruins’ studio analyst Mike Milbury, color analyst Andy Brickley and play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards debating and discussing the most controversial national hockey topics of the day.
The series drops the puck Thursday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. ET on the regional sports network and will air at both 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. each week….
NESN is owned by the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins and delivered to over 4 million homes throughout the six-state New England region and nationally via DirecTV and Dish Network.
Note: Video at NESN.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
What we have here now, amid Garden sellouts Friday afternoon and last night, is reason to believe. Actually, many reasons to believe. To wit:
1. Claude Julien. His coaching thus far has been masterful, among the keys the standard he set with the yanking of a gritless Phil Kessel from last year’s playoffs. The only real motivating tool a coach has is his control of ice time. Lack of production has to be met with lack of allotted playing time, be it minutes or situations (line combinations, power-play time, etc.). Julien’s X-and-O scheme is simple, straightforward, and the minutes he doles out are earned, not granted.
read on with additional hockey topics…
via Fluto Shinzawa of the Bruins Blog at the Boston Globe,
“Every night we play in the league, when you read the clips before, it’s a ‘measuring game.’ It’s a ‘measuring-stick game,’ ” said Detroit’s Mike Babcock. “This is our 23d measuring-stick game for the other team. Every night is for us. It’s going to be fun for us.”
“I think,” Babcock continued, “when I watch all the teams in the league right now, the two teams that seem to be the most excited and all playing together are Boston and San Jose. Those are the two teams for me.”
# On the other side, Claude Julien said tonight’s game will be a good test for the Bruins. “Right now, I think it’s a great way to show that we are a good team, but also with the type of talent that team has on the other side, a puck-possession team, it’s going to be a good test for us,” Julien said.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org