|Connelly’s Top Ten: RIP Cecil the Lion||David Krejci: The Most Interesting Man on the Bruins||Pedro Martinez Number Retired, Fenway Celebrates||(David) Price is Wrong for Red Sox|
All 30 days of November are finally in the books and the Boston Bruins made history during all of them. With a record of 12-0-1, which included a 10-game winning streak, the Bruins (16-7-1, 33 points), completed the best month the league has seen since March 2008, when the San Jose Sharks went 13-0-2, and the best month for the franchise since January 1969. Boston went from last in the Eastern Conference all the way to second on the shoulders of goaltender Tim Thomas, who was named November’s 1st NHL Star for going 9-0-0, becoming only the fourth goalie to go undefeated in a calendar month (with a minimum of nine starts) after Martin Brodeur, Bernie Parent, and Jacques Plante. With their points streak now at 14 games, can the Bruins be stopped?
The Bruins closed out November on Wednesday night with a 6-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, before starting December with a 4-1 victory over the same ol’ Leafs, who have lost to the B’s in each of their four meetings this season by a combined score of 23-6. Their latter victory also marked the 100th consecutive sellout for the Bruins at home, but those at home have been doing their part, too; NESN’s ratings for the Bruins games during November are up 33% to 5.3 from their previous monthly best set last March.
The signing of center David Krejci on Wednesday for $15.75 million over 3 years is clearly the story of the week. Krejci (5-10-15 points in 21 games), who had 23 points in 21 playoff games last spring but has been sluggish this season, was the subject of trade rumors at the start of the week, when Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks was reportedly being shopped. The extension of the UFA’s-to-be contract ended all such talk, but has left a lot of fans wondering if the deal was the right move, especially considering the development of Tyler Seguin (a natural center playing wing and leading the team with 12 goals and 24 points) and the other UFA’s (Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thorton, Johnny Boychuk, and Joe Corvo) and RFA’s (Tuukka Rask and Benoit Pouliot) to-be. Clearly, the B’s front office is expecting Krejci to step up to his playoff numbers, which he has done since the signing, notching two goals and three assists in the two victories over the Maple Leafs.
Between the Bruins’ sluggish start to the season and last week’s talk of trading Krejci, it was only during the Bruins 10-game winning streak that there was very little trade talk in the Hub. The Bruins have $3.1 million in cap space and could potentially double by placing Marc Savard on the Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR), meaning there’s plenty of money to spend. With players like Bobby Ryan, Jarome Iginla, and Rick Nash (pretty sure he gets mixed up in every trade rumor, seriously) being whispered about, it’s easy to let imaginations run wild. But if it ain’t broke, why fix it? The Bruins are 13-0-1 in their last 14 and people want to mess with that? There’s a significant chance the Bruins will make a trade before the deadline, especially if Iginla is still available, but there’s no need to mess with the team’s winning combination right now.
The 2012 NHL All-Star Game ballot is still open! Be sure to vote for Bruins Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Tim Thomas and to write Tyler Seguin in! Vote here!
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.
Bruins President Cam Neely and players Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Ference, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, and Shawn Thornton appeared on last Friday night’s episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to rebuild the home of the Walkers from Springfield, MA. Eleven-year-old Carl Walker took his own life more than two years ago after being bullied at school, which led to the joint efforts of the Bruins and the “Stand Together” campaign.
Monday, December 5 @ Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m.
Monday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins (16-7-4, 36 points) marks the beginning of a tough stretch played mostly on the road for the Bruins, who will have five games in eight days. The Penguins are first in the Eastern Conference and have dominated the league throughout the season, even though they just welcomed back Sidney Crosby, who already has 12 points (2-10-12) in just seven games. The first matchup of the season of these two teams could indicate who the best in the Eastern Conference really is and provide a preview of a playoff series to come. Expect Thomas to start for this one.
Tuesday, December 6 @ Winnipeg Jets, 8 p.m.
The Bruins’ first trip to Winnipeg this season is also their first since New Year’s Eve, 1995, when they beat the Jets (11-11-4, 26 points) 5-3. Boston grounded Winnipeg 4-2 in Boston after the B’s 10-game winning streak was snapped, but the Jets are a surprising 7-4-0 at home. The Bruins, who will be led by Tuukka Rask, should be able to handle business, but their last win over the Jets wasn’t the easiest and the trip to Winnipeg is no fun.
Thursday, December 8 vs. Florida Panthers, 7 p.m.
The Florida Panthers (14-8-4, 32 points) have been one of the surprises of the season, as they are in control of the Southeast Division and in third place in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers are decent across the board in power play and penalty kill, but have three players with more than 20 points (the Bruins only have one). They have a very balanced attack of Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, and Stephen Weiss, while their defense is anchored by Brian Campbell. Former Bruin Marco Sturm has found a home in Florida, but has struggled with only two goals and one assist in 19 games. The Bruins, 2-2-0 against the Southeast, should be at 4-2-0 against that division before the week’s end.
Saturday, December 10 @ Columbus Blue Jackets, 7 p.m.
Everyone remembers the Columbus Blue Jackets, right? In the midst of the Bruins’ winning streak, Columbus (7-16-3, 17 points), then-and-still the worst team in the league, forced the Bruins to a shootout in what everyone wrote off as an easy win. The BJ’s are 4-3-1 since then, a record that includes an impressive 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres and an awkward 6-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers. For some reason, Columbus matched up well against Boston in the teams’ meeting in Boston, but don’t expect Claude Julien & Co. to take this matchup lightly.
Prediction: loss to Penguins, wins over Jets, Panthers, Blue Jackets
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller got run over again! This time the offender wasn’t Milan Lucic, but Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators. Watch the video and note how every Sabre immediately jumped Tootoo, including Miller, who was making his first start suffering a concussion (supposedly because of Lucic’s hit). Expect Tootoo to get suspended… Former Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t unemployed for long. He was hired by the struggling Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday after they fired Randy Carlyle, which gave him six days between coaching games for two different teams, the shortest span in NHL history… League realignment because of the Atlanta Thrashers’ move to Winnipeg this offseason will be the topic du jour of the NHL Board of Governors meetings, which begin today. Commissioner Gary Bettman is believed to be seeking a two-conference, four-division (East, South, Midwest, and Pacific) alignment. A lot features into the realignment, notably the Detroit Red Wings’ desire to move to the Eastern Conference in order to decrease travel and increase television viewership… The New York Times is in the middle of a haunting three-piece series on the life of former NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard, who was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment last May after mixing alcohol and oxycodone.