|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
Winter might be approaching, but the ice at the TD Garden is staying warm, as the red-hot Boston Bruins (8-7-0) are undefeated in November. They have strung together five consecutive victories, outscoring their opponents 30-10. They have scored at least five goals in five straight games for the first time since January 22-29, 1986 and are only the third team in the past 17 seasons to score at least six goals in four consecutive games. That’s not bad for a team that was 3-7-0 and in last place in the Eastern Conference two weeks ago. For the first time this season, the Bruins are above .500 and looking to take advantage of divisional foes, especially the Ottawa Senators, currently trending downward.
The Bruins started last week with a sound 6-2 victory over the visiting New York Islanders, which gave Tuukka Rask his first victory of the season. He picked up his second one in the Bruins’ best non-division win of the season, a 6-3 thumping of the surprising Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, before Tim Thomas took over his starting spot again in Saturday night’s 6-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Since the Bruins are en fuego right now, I thought it might be more appropriate to shift to a Hot vs. Not section instead of the usual “Top B’s Storylines.” Hopefully no one is left out in the cold with the change.
With 11 goals on the season, the Ontario-native has now matched his rookie total in just 15 games this season and has a goal in four consecutive games and points in six. During the Bruins winning streak, he has seven goals (nearly half of which come from his first career hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs) and three assists, closing out the week with two goals and an assist against Buffalo. On a hot-or-not scale between 1 and 10, Seguin is Stacy’s Mom.
Mentioned as one of last week’s top storylines, Caron (1-1-2) earned his first points of the season this week, first with an assist on Benoit Pouliot’s first goal of the season against the Islanders and then with a goal against the Oilers. He seems to have earned a permanent spot in the Bruins roster, usually on the third line, which has seen quite a few different faces, including Rich Peverley (hot), Chris Kelly (hot), Zach Hamill (heating up), and Benoit Pouliot (lukewarm).
It’s not just Seguin who’s hot right now. While he can account for seven of the 30 goals the Bruins have scored in November, it’s clear the entire team is contributing to the offense. Milan Lucic has five goals this month, while Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand have each added three. The B’s are also helping each other score, with Zdeno Chara finally knocking Seguin off the leaderboard in assists with eight in November (11 on the season). Seguin and Patrice Bergeron both have nine assists, while Marchand and Joe Corvo have seven each. While not complaining, it would still be great to see Corvo (0-7-7) notch a power-play goal. Of particular note is how crisp the passing has been and how the majority of the goals haven’t been off of rebounds or “trash” goals, but skilled snipes, especially against Buffalo. It looks the B’s finally got back to basics and it’s paying off.
The ceremonial puck drop before Saturday night’s game against the Buffalo Sabres was possibly the most emotional Boston sports scene in a long, long time. Words will do it no justice, so please watch it here and tell every veteran and serviceman/woman thank you for their service.
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.
Daniel Paille (broken nose) and Andrew Ference (lower body injury) remain day-to-day.
His comments regarding Lucic’s hit made after Saturday’s game were entirely unprofessional. I touched on this at length yesterday.
The ballot for the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game just came out and failed to include Seguin, who not only leads the Bruins with goals and points, but is also one goal behind league-leader Phil Kessel, in fifth-place in the league for overall scoring (four points behind Kessel), and has the league’s best plus-minus rating. Want to know who is on the ballot? Sidney Crosby and Marc Staal who have combined to play in zero (yes, 0) games this season. Also on the list: Jordan Eberle (3-8-11, +1 in 16 games), Michael Grabner (5-1-6, -3 in 16 games), and Taylor Hall (3-7-10, +1 in 15 games), all whom are sophomores like Seguin (11-9-20, +14 in 15 games), but can’t touch him. Not to keep picking on the Staals, but how do Eric (4-3-7, -17 in 17 games) and Jordan (8-4-12, +5 in 15 games played) make it and not Seguin? Don’t even get me started on R.J. Umberger (1-4-5, -4 in 16 games)! And somehow people think P.K. Subban is a respectable hockey player. Anyway, let’s give Seguin what he deserves and send him to the NHL All-Star Game: write him in!
Tuesday, November 15 vs. New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m.
The New Jersey Devils (8-6-1, 17 points, 4th in the Atlantic Division) have been streaky all season. Their standing in their division is misleading as they play in arguably the league’s toughest one this season, but have lost winnable games because of future Hall-of-Fame goalie Martin Brodeur’s slow start, who has seen backup Johan Hedberg play nearly double the amount of games. Either goaltender could start on Tuesday after Hedberg game the Devils a 3-2 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals. This isn’t the same Devils team of the past, and Ilya Kovalchuk (2-7-9) is still yet to meet expectations, but they’re always a tough team to play.
Thursday, November 17 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
What’s there to say about the sad excuse for a hockey team the BJ’s (3-12-1) are? They opened the season with eight straight losses (0-7-1) and have managed only three in the seven games since then. They are the worst team in the league and the only one not to have broken double-digits for points in the standings. Their three wins have come against the Detroit Red Wings, who were at the end of a slide, the Anaheim Ducks, who are still sliding, and the Winnipeg Jets, who are sliding only slightly less than Columbus. As long as the Bruins don’t cruise, Columbus shouldn’t be a problem.
Saturday, November 19 @ New York Islanders, 7 p.m.
The Bruins travel to Nassau Coliseum for the first time this season after last week’s 6-2 victory against the New York Islanders (4-7-3, 11 points) last week. Since then, the Islanders have dropped games to the Colorado Avalanche (4-3 in a shootout) and the Vancouver Canucks (4-1) and into last place in the Eastern Conference. They are scheduled to play the New York Rangers (9-3-3, 21 points) and Montreal Canadiens (7-7-2, 16 points) before hosting the Bruins. The Bruins should be able to finish the week off on a high note and potentially extend their win streak assuming there are no early-week hiccups.
Prediction: win over Devils, Blue Jackets, and Islanders
The Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony takes place on Monday night in Toronto, Ontario. This year’s inductees are Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe, and Joe Nieuwendyk.