Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
The Bruins were pretty much terrible out of the gate and no one would disagree with that.
They started the season just 3-7-0 in their first 10 games and were, for a while, dead last in the league. But then a funny thing happened. It occurred to Claude Julien that maybe it would be a good idea to put the kid who's the most preternaturally offensively gifted guy on the team on a line with a productive fellow sophomore and arguably the best two-way center on the planet. Then see what happens.
Tyler Seguin had, for the Bruins' first nine mostly-bad games, been grouped with a mishmash of forwards as Julien tried to create some kind of alchemical result. Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, David Krejci, even Danny Paille and Chris Kelly got their shots with the former No. 2 pick but none of them really stuck. Then, right before the end of October, Julien finally put Seguin with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Six games later, they might be the scariest and most productive line in the NHL. Though Seguin and Bergeron combined for a goal in that first game together, the Bruins still lost to the Canadiens, but since then, the wins and points have come rolling in.
In six games together, Seguin has scored eight goals and added three assists. Bergeron has a goal and six assists. Marchand has two goals and five assists. The Bruins, perhaps not surprisingly, have five wins.
Make no mistake about it: This is explosion in points and positive results is entirely the result of these three players being perfect for each other.
(Coming Up: Lindy Ruff F-bombs the media over Lucic/Miller; coaching milestones for Trotz and Murray; teams hiding revenue from the NHLPA; the Rangers are rolling; why Steve Mason doesn't suck; Daniel Alfredsson noncommittal on getting Bourque'd; Matt Moulson thinks the Isles have a 70-goal scorer; the Flames have a lot of money scratched; the Bruins turn into hamburger; Lubomir Visnovsky out for a bit; watch a shorthanded penalty shot (again); a six-year-old's take on hockey; and why does Ovechkin refuse to change his game?)
Obviously all have a bit of offensive skill about them, but Seguin delivers it more than any other player on the team. Even when he wasn't producing at this berserk rate, Seguin was typically the Bruins' most influential player in the offensive zone and did have nine points in his first nine games.
But the freedom that Bergeron's defensive prowess grants him to be a little more exploratory and enterprising in attack than others did, and his dominance at the dot helps ensure Seguin gets the puck on a steady basis. It's important to remember that Bergeron once projected as a very strong offensive player (he scored 143 points in his age-20 and -21 seasons); a player with Seguin's skill will do far more to help him unlock that aspect of his game than, say, Mark Recchi or Marco Sturm would have in the past.
And of course, Brad Marchand is the wrecking ball on that line, hitting everyone, clearing space, and chipping in offensively, continuing to expand the scope of his game in his second full year in the league.
But perhaps what these guys can do better than anyone in the League is turn a game on its ear in short order. They've combined to score 11 goals together in the past six games, and of those, five have come within five minutes or so of a previous Bruins goal. A few more have also been on the front end of such a flurry. That's quick-strike offense, and it's extremely demoralizing.
A lot has been made of the fact that the Bruins scored just 21 goals in their first 10 games and 30 in their last five, as though either was an indicator of where the team's capability actually lies. And obviously the truth is somewhere in the middle. Certainly, it wasn't 3-7-0 bad, and it's not 5-0-0 good either.
But if this line keeps facing solid competition, it's not only going to continue scoring regularly, it's also going to free up some room for guys like Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, who themselves have been no slouches during this hot run, to score as well.
It's important to remember that Boston is still outside the playoffs, but it's climbing faster than anyone else. If the Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line keeps producing at anything even remotely resembling this rate, they're going to be near the top of the conference by Thanksgiving.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Lubomir Visnovsky is out a month or so with a broken finger. He's broken a finger four times since being acquired by Anaheim at the deadline in 2010. He said he's changed his gloves since then, but might I suggest going with steel next time?
Bruins Black and Blue Burgers, and if you don't like them Milan Lucic comes out and steamrolls you in the middle of the restaurant while the staff looks on helplessly.
Calgary Flames: Cory Sarich and Matt Stajan have found themselves healthy scratches of late, and Niklas Hagman was recently sent to the minors. Combined cap hit for those three players? A bargain at $10.1 million.
Carolina Hurricanes: Eric Staal actually scored a goal (the game-winner, no less) as the Hurricanes beat the Penguins 5-3 in Raleigh. Just the fourth of the year for Staal, who hadn't scored since October 18.
Chicago Blackhawks: Dave Bolland was out for last night's game with Edmonton, the third straight contest he's missed since he hurt his leg blocking a shot nearly a week ago. He might be back for one of the next two games.
Colorado Avalanche: When you give up four goals in the first 29 minutes of a game, it's not easy to come back. That didn't stop the Avs from trying, though. Three goals in the back half of the game and a furious power play in the final minute just wasn't enough to beat Calgary, which has lost to Colorado just once in the last two seasons.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Guys Steve Mason doesn't suck! He made a bunch of saves against the Jets. That team is known for scoring a million goals.
Dallas Stars: Not a good road trip for the Stars, who scored just three goals and allowed eight against two admittedly very good teams in Pittsburgh and Detroit. And Alex Goligoski might be out a month. Now would be a great time for them to prove their hot start was somehow not a fluke.
Detroit Red Wings Presented by Amway: Chrysler is now offering the special Detroit Red Wings Dodge Ram. It was specially designed to drive through the holes in arguments for Chris Osgood's Hall of Fame candidacy.
Edmonton Oilers: Probably no surprise to anyone that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is driving the Oilers' offense, but the No. 2 man on the team? Ryan Smyth! Don't think anyone saw that coming.
Florida Panthers: Evgeny Dadonov made his debut for the Panthers and celebrated in style, scoring a pretty nice goal.
Los Angeles Kings: Kings coach Terry Murray coached his 1,000th game on Saturday, and the Kings actually won it for him. Now they're up to two wins in their last eight games! Wow!
Minnesota Wild: Marco Scandella is out indefinitely after suffering a concussion in that Kings win. That's his second in two years, and that's bad news.
Montreal Canadiens: In the future, let's reserve the George Strait references for games in which the Habs don't score just twice and need overtime to win, eh? If anything, that game was a Petty Larceny on Music Row.
Nashville Predators: Are the Preds and Caps (among other teams) hiding hockey-related revenues from the NHLPA? Given that revenues are directly tied with the salary cap, you'd think the Preds would want all the room they can find to squeeze in the Suter and Weber contracts.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils' PK hasn't allowed a goal in forever. Okay, not really. But it's been since Oct. 27. They're played seven games since then.
New York Islanders: For some reason Matt Moulson thinks Michael Grabner can score 70 goals. No, that's a direct quote. "He's flying in there every time and in a flash he's right on top of the goalie. I think that makes it really tough on him. But once he starts potting those, he could probably start getting 70 goal seasons." SEVENTY GOALS.
New York Rangers: Don't everyone look all at once but the Rangers have won six in a row. Even Brandon Dubinsky started scoring. Things are really clicking on Broadway.
Ottawa Senators: To the surprise of no people at all, when he was asked whether he would a) consider retirement after this season or, b) accept a trade to a contender, Daniel Alfredsson was noncommittal and diplomatic.
Philadelphia Flyers: Matt Read scored a shorthanded penalty shot yesterday, and surprisingly that wasn't even the only one this week. Martin Erat had one on Wednesday.
Phoenix Coyotes: Gee whiz the various Coyotes who grew up in Ontario sure are happy to head up there for tomorrow's game. Paul Bissonnette bought his mom seats on the glass for Saturday's game in Buffalo. Maybe he'll even get into the lineup.
Pittsburgh Penguins: "GM Ray Shero constantly remaking the franchise," is a much better-sounding headline than what the story is about, which is, "GM Ray Shero constantly making personnel transactions because it's his job and whatever."
San Jose Sharks: Todd McLellan was being nice when he said the Sharks "weren't there mentally" in a shutout loss to Phoenix on Saturday. Ryane Clowe, on the other hand, was not. He called them "dumb."
St. Louis Blues: The Blues scored three goals against the Lightning and didn't concede any. I wonder how long Ken Hitchcock had Kris Russell stand over the puck in his own zone.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Jacques Lemaire, by the way, is totally on Guy Boucher's side in all this trap nonsense.
Toronto Maple Leafs: A six-year-old dictates a blog post about his first-ever hockey game. "Why do people leave so early? Before the game is over?" Kids will say anything!
Vancouver Canucks: The police are looking for help in their investigation into the riots last spring. Those interested in volunteering might want to show up in as orderly a manner as possible.
Washington Capitals: I guess Alex Ovechkin refuses to change his game and that's why he sucks now or something. Shoot more Ovie, that will solve it!
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets have lost five in a row, but now have a cool homestand coming up! They're 2-3-0 at home. Good luck.
Gold Star Award
Did you know Tomas Vokoun and Chris Mason were both on the team then? Man, this is one crazy-ass roster. They used FORTY players throughout that first season.
Minus of the Weekend
No, this former Rangers minor league goon doesn't seem like a dangerous psychopath at all.
Play of the Weekend
This isn't so much for the goal, which was really quite nice, but for the Jack Edwards call. What a legend.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "Stamshot" wants to help the Islanders now.
That's not gonna do it.
Did you just tell me how to run my family?
- Patrice Bergeron
- Claude Julien
- Tyler Seguin