BostonBruins.com - As the calendar turned to December, the Bruins sat in first place atop the Eastern Conference.
They finished November at 10-3-2, with an 8-0-2 record at home.
It hasn't been perfect Black & Gold style hockey. But it's been enough.
The month began on a sour note, with a 3-1 loss on Long Island that forced a bounce-back stretch of games, including a 3-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Lightning amidst a four-game winning streak.
The B's would only suffer three more losses in November, none worse than the 6-1 rout by the Red Wings in Detroit just prior to Thanksgiving, that came during a span of three games in four days.
Those in the Spoked-B referred to the loss as a wakeup call, and their ensuing two straight wins, 3-2 over the New York Rangers and a 3-1 over the Columbus Blue Jackets, featured their best hockey of the season.
It was emotional, physical and passionate play. It was a full team effort.
BOSTON, MA - Boston brought the heat in its 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Friday afternoon.
Coming off their 6-1 loss to Detroit, they were embarrassed and felt they had something to prove. They did just that.
"I thought we played probably one of the best games of the year," Tuukka Rask said following the victory. The Bruins improved to 17-7-2 on the season and 8-3-2 in the month of November.
Boston was physical all game. Their compete level was high, and they kept up the intensity. They outbattled the Rangers, and when they needed an extra gear, Captain Zdeno Chara came through with a rare Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
"I think last game was fun," smiled Kelly, clearly showing how the B's were carrying a good vibe as a result of the win.
"We need to realize that we are a big strong, physical hockey team and when we’re playing well, that’s what we’re doing. We’re engaged and we’re not playing reckless and we’re not being dirty, it’s just we’re playing hard and being physical on the puck."
They, of course, do realize that. It's often hard to sustain that level through the entire season.
"That’s kind of our M.O.," said Shawn Thornton. "When we play with emotion and passion, we’re a better team and we know that."
BOSTON, MA - From his knees in the high slot, Zdeno Chara punched both arms into the air, threw his head back and let out a yell. The Garden crowd roared around him.
It was emotional.
The Captain had just blasted the eventual game-winner past Henrik Lundqvist midway through the third period. The Bruins would go on to win 3-2 over the New York Rangers in their Black Friday matinee at TD Garden.
You may not see it away from the ice, in a postgame media scrum, when the calm, collected Chara methodically speaks about the Black & Gold, always turning a personal question into a broader spectrum of the team's performance.
But Big Zee has emotion pulsing through his 6-foot-9, 255-pound frame. And it fills every inch of the 200-by-85 foot sheet of the ice surface once he sets a skate on it, and it stretches up into the rafters that he screams into.
"There’s obviously no better leader, no better defenseman in my mind," alternate captain Patrice Bergeron said from the Bruins' locker room following the win. It was a room that wasn't necessarily jovial from the victory; but intense and determined, just like their leader.
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins would have practiced on Thanksgiving morning, win or lose.
But coming off their 6-1 loss in Detroit on Wednesday night, they took advantage of the opportunity to flush out the disastrous game, and look forward to Friday's matinee against he New York Rangers in NBC's Thanksgiving Showdown.
This group wasn't just moving on, though. For a team that it still atop the Eastern Conference, the emphasis was on learning from the performance, and using it as a jolt. Head Coach Claude Julien hoped it would be a "wakeup call."
"Everyone knows what today is; personally, I'm glad we came in to practice," said Chris Kelly. We play a 1:00 game tomorrow, and after last night's performance, you want to get back on the ice as quick as possible, and feel better about yourself."
"We're in a pretty good spot. We're in first place come Thanksgiving, but that being said, there's areas of our game we can be better at, and need to be better at."
DETROIT, MI - The last time the Bruins lost a game 6-1, it was March 2012.
It doesn't happen often.
One of those 'once in a blue moon' games for Boston happened again on Wednesday night, in a pre-Thanksgiving matchup with the Red Wings in Detroit. Jarome Iginla stopped the shutout bid with 2:25 left in the third period, after the Wings had taken a 6-0 lead.
Did they see this coming?
"No," Patrice Bergeron quickly responded. "It was pretty much everything we didn’t want to see out there."
The alternate captain is always diplomatic, and tells it to you straight. After a loss, there's even more conviction in his voice.
"We didn’t execute. Yeah, they played a good game but we pretty much handed it out to them."
DETROIT, MI - The Bruins hit the ice at Joe Louis Arena Wednesday morning, in preparation for a pre-Thanksgiving matchup against the Red Wings.
And as the B's blueline gets healthier, Adam McQuaid could be making his return.
"[Dennis] Seidenberg is not ready yet but [Adam McQuaid] we’ll make a decision on after warm-up," Head Coach Claude Julien said following the team's morning skate.
McQuaid has missed eight straight games with a lower-body injury. It's the first time he's ever experienced this type of injury, so he's been taking a day-by-day approach, being cautious with his recovery.
Seidenberg, meanwhile, has now skated for three straight days. He kept in controlled during the team's practice back in Boston before traveling to Detroit, measuring his progress, and has been happy with his improvement.
WILMINGTON, MA - The Bruins hit the ice for practice on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena with a full group. Both Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg have integrated back into team skates, but have yet to get back into game action since each suffering lower-body injuries.
The good sign? Both traveled to Detroit on Tuesday, as the B's prepare to face the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday night.
"Well they’re both going to make the trip with us," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following practice. "So they’re going to be on the ice [Wednesday] morning and I’ll see where both of them are at that point and make that decision then."
McQuaid has been out since November 9, missing the past eight games. He's close to a return.
"I think McQuaid is obviously inching a little bit closer, but that doesn’t mean [Seidenberg] won’t be ready either. I think he felt really good today so we’ll see how he is [on Wednesday]."
Seidenberg has been sidelined or nearly a week, having sustained his lower-body injury on November 19 against the New York Rangers.
BOSTON, MA - Before the Bruins took the ice for pregame skate on Monday morning to prep for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the sounds of T-Blade skates gliding stride by stride filled TD Garden.
I didn't even have to walk all the way up to the glass in the Zamboni tunnel to see that it was Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, on the ice skating for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury last Tuesday, November 19, against the New York Rangers.
Seidenberg skated with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides, and remained on the ice for his first skate back with the group.
"Yes it was his first time out there today," affirmed Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "He skated earlier this morning and then he skated with us, and he’d been on for 45 minutes so we just got him off."
Julien had originally predicted a more or less seven-day recovery for Seidenberg, so the blueliner appears to be on track to return to game action soon.
BostonBruins.com - There was a time, mid-September, when Reilly Smith was shooting to make the Bruins.
"It’s probably the easiest thing, to just lay back and act like the hard part is over. But it’s the exact opposite," Smith had said, upon making the opening night roster. "Just making this team, it was a big challenge, but sticking with it is a whole different story.”
Now, 23 games into the season, the right winger has surpassed his career season-high with four goals in the spoked-B.
His 15 points are four more that he notched through 37 games last season with Dallas, after making the jump from the college game.
It lifted the Bruins to a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in a Saturday matinee at TD Garden. The goal came 1:28 into extra time.
"OT wins, they always feel good to be a part of when you’re on the winning side," said Iginla, from the Bruins' locker room postgame.
"It was nice move with Krech with the patience. I thought 'great move' and I’m like okay put it in, put it in," he laughed, with that signature Iginla smile we've become accustomed to.
"But he obviously made that right call and it’s great patience and in a pretty tight spot there."
"It was basically all Iggy," Krejci beamed postgame. "It was like one against two, he split the D, I didn’t think he saw me but he did. I kind of had an easy job to do, just put it in the kind of half-open net."