Bruins look to continue first-half success

Bruins look to continue first-half success

CJ Haddad

Journal Staf

Since the Boston Bruins captured their sixth Stanley cup championship and their new banner was raised to the rafters at TD Garden, the hype in Boston about the 2011-2012 season has been enormous.

As previous teams have shown, it can be difficult to repeat as Stanley Cup Champs. Since 2000, 11 team captains have hoisted Lord Stanley about their shoulders.  Up to the halfway point in the season the Bruins are showing that they have picked up right where they left off last season. The black and gold find themselves atop the Northeast Division, and with one game remaining versus the Washington Capitals, tied for first in the Eastern Conference with the surprise New York Rangers (64 points).

During the offseason, the Bruins decided to not re-sign a declining and unproductive Thomas Kaberle who now finds himself in rival Montreal.  Kaberle has been replaced by veteran Joe Corvo who has not fully lived up to his potential in Boston, but has two goals, 15 assists, and is fourth on the team in shots on net.

Winger Michael Ryder was signed by the Dallas stars and has produced for them, but stepping up in his place is the 25-year-old Benoit Puliot, who was acquired from the Habs. Puliot has even spent time on the second line in the absence of Brad Marchand and just adds to the amount of speed already on the Bruins roster.

Rookie sensation Tyler Seguin has been showing everyone why he deserved to be the number two overall pick in the 2010-2011 NHL Entry Draft. Seguin can be almost methodical with the puck at times, weaving through defenders using his speed and skill to his advantage.

The 19-year-old who turns 20 this month has notched a team leading 42 points that includes 18 goals and 24 assists. Not to mention, he leads the NHL in plus/minus with a +34. Seguin’s counterparts, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are both in the top five in plus/minus in the NHL.

This year’s Bruins team is embodies Bruins Hockey. A hard-hitting bunch of guys who make teams work for every puck, while also working for every puck they possess.

Defense has always been the staple of Head Coach Claude Julien’s brand of hockey, and we continue to see that this season as the Bruins are ranked third in the NHL in goals allowed a game with 2.09.

What has surprised most, and maybe even the B’s themselves, is their ability to put the puck in the net this season, which has been a major hiccup in their game in past seasons. The Bruins are ranked an unlikely first place in the NHL in goals for per game with 3.54.

Each line for the Causeway Street rink rats has the ability to net the puck, whether it be emerging first line center David Krejci, or a hard-nosed glove-dropper like Shawn Thornton. The amount of offense the Bruins have produced this year is exciting, but that not may be the only reason the Bruins have the second most wins in the NHL.

Goaltender Tim Thomas took home a Vezina, a Conn Smythe, and a Stanley Cup to the bank last season, he might need to watch his heels because a 6-foot-3, 24-year-old Finnish tender may be coming for his job.

Tuukka Rask, who was the story of the 2009-2010 season, has reemerged from the shadows and has been playing at a number one goalie level. In fact, Tuukka leads all NHL goaltenders with a .943 save percentage and 1.68 goals against average (No.1 goalie 1.69 GAA).  Rask has blanked teams three times already this season and is starting to see significant time, opposed to the beginning of the year.
With a very solid first half just about in the books, the Bruins will look to maintain their spot among the elite in the East and the NHL.

Look for Bruins players Tyler Seguin, Tim Thomas, and the Eastern Conference Captain, Zdeno Chara in the all-star game in Ottawa.

The Bruins will open up the second half January 31 at home against the Senators.