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Bruins Den: Out of Hibernation, Into a Winning Streak

Nathan Gerbe and Zdeno Chara (Image: Flickr user slidingsideways)

Well, well, well… what a week for the Bruins! It seems like Halloween spooked some offense into the B’s, who are now riding their first winning streak of the season as they begin a five-game homestand. With some of the best and worst teams of the league about to visit Boston, the conference-worst (second to last in the league) Bruins will need their offense to keep producing goals if they want their winning streak to last longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage. #mostoverusedpopculturereferenceoftheyear

Last Week’s Recap

The Bruins snapped a three-game losing streak at the start of the week with a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators, who had a six-game winning streak snapped and the league’s top power play stifled. Following a visit to the Hockey Hall of Fame, during which a Stanley Cup championship ring was donated to the Hall, the Bruins played their most complete hockey game of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs, whom they trounced 7-0 on Saturday night.

Top B’s Storylines

Tyler Seguin vs. the World:

It’s like the Bruins love to rub it in the faces of Phil Kessel, Brian Burke, and the whole Toronto Maple Leafs organization. While Tyler Seguin doesn’t lead the league in goals and points like Kessel does, Seguin did register his first-career hat trick Saturday night to bring his team-leading tallies to seven goals and seven assists. He is the only Bruin to average more than a point per game, although Milan Lucic and Patrice Begeron are close, as Lucic has stretched his point streak to three games (4-1-5) and Begeron to six games (3-5-8). However, Nathan Horton, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand are still struggling to find their scoring touch.

The Growth of Jordan Caron:

Jordan Caron is still yet to record a point this season, but no one can doubt the potential he has. Unsung offensive heroes Rich Peverly and Chris Kelly (both 3-4-7) have helped their linemate to find a more permanent spot in the Bruins roster. Caron, who has seen a lot of I-95 going between Boston and Providence, has played in three consecutive games, as Benoit Pouliot has been unable to find a spark while sporting the spoked-B. Against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Caron took exception to Dion Phaneuf’s legal check on Kelly and gave the Maple Leaf defenseman a crosscheck in the back as he attempted to get up. It’s great to see a young hockey player take the initiative to protect his teammates and earn a spot on a team.

Raffle Tickets for Championship Rings:

Be sure to buy your raffle tickets for a chance to win a Boston Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup Championship ring! All proceeds go to the Boston Bruins Foundation and NHL Alumni Association.

Week Ahead Preview

Monday, November 7 vs. New York Islanders, 7 p.m.
Here’s all you need to know about the New York Islanders (4-5-2): Rick DiPietro is really that bad. Alright, kidding, he’s not awful, but he gets booed even when he wins and his team (well, it also belong to Evgeni Nabokov and AJ Montoya, who have also started in net) is only ahead of the Bruins in the standings by virtue of a standings points-per-game tiebreaker. John Tavares leads the team with 12 points and to two high points of the season, a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and a 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals Saturday night, which snapped a six-game losing streak. The streak featured two shutouts, one to the lowly Winnipeg Jets, illustrating just how inconsistent the Islanders have been this season.

Thursday, November 10 vs. Edmonton Oilers, 7 p.m.
The Edmonton Oilers (8-3-2) have been one of the many surprises this NHL season as they currently enjoy the view from the top of the Northwest Division. This year’s first overall draft pick and Calder Trophy favorite Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been one of the main reasons, tallying six goals and six assists to tie him with Ryan Smyth as the team leader. Arguably an even more significant factor has been the resurgence of goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who has an obscene 0.94 GAA and is yet to lose in regulation. With a shared storyline (the youth leading the way with a journeyman goaltender keeping the backdoor closed), the Oilers present an interesting test for the Bruins, who are yet to beat a Western Conference team in regulation (0-2-1).

Saturday, November 12 vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
The Bruins end the week with a visit from the Buffalo Sabres (8-5-0), with whom the Bruins have often shared the top of the Northeast Division. The Sabres are led by Thomas Vanek (8-8-16) and Jason Pominville (5-10-15) and also feature former Boston College Eagle and Hobey Baker finalist Nathan Gerbe (who also stands in stark contrast against Zdeno Chara as the league’s shortest player at 5’5”). Goalie Ryan Miller of Team USA fame has struggled out of the gate this season, going 4-5-0 with a 2.40 GAA and .922 save percentage. This has allowed Jhonas Enroth, who is 4-0-0 with a 1.41 GAA and .952 save percentage, to shine, which he did in back-to-back win last Friday and Saturday. Because the Sabres broke the goaltending schedule by starting Enroth back-to-back, it’s up in the air whom the Bruins will face in net. The Sabres also have the league’s best penalty kill, but who cares about that when the Bruins do just fine on their own killing their own power players.
Prediction: win over Islanders, loss to Oilers, win over Sabres

Around the League’s Rink

The NHL had a fairly quiet week on the ice, but was rocked off the ice by allegations from former player Georges Laraque of rampant steroid use in the league prior to the current CBA, which mandates testing for performance-enhancing drugs. Neither the NHL nor NHLPA have responded to the claims… On the ice, the Columbus Blue Jackets, who may be in the Eastern Conference next year depending on conference realignment, still suck.

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