11 Games and Counting...
One month into the season, what has led to B's best start in franchise history?
BostonBruins.com - We're just about one month into the season, with 11 games under the belt for the Bruins - and a lot of emotion packed into each and every game.
Before Tuesday night's point in the shootout, the Black & Gold had jumped out to their best 10-game start in franchise history, going 8-1-1 and picking up 17 of a possible 20 points. That start bested the 16 of possible 20 points reached in three previous seasons, most recently in 1978-79.
After earning the shootout point due their third-period comeback against the Rangers on Tuesday, the B's have now matched their best 11-game start in team history with 18 points.
So, how did we get to this point, a quarter of the way through the 48-game season with the B's sitting at 8-1-2? Let's revisit a few of the big moments that have led to each hard-fought point. Due to brevity, not every momentum-changing goal, hit, fight, breakaway, penalty kill will be included - though they all factored into the outcome.
What have been your favorite moments through the first 11 games? Share your favorites in the comment section at the bottom of the page....
Game 1: Bruins 3, Rangers 1 - January 19 (TD Garden)
There were question marks heading into the start of the season, with an eight-month layoff from NHL action - and the B's were quick to dispel notions of serious rust. Milan Lucic drove the net and got the first Bruins goal of 2012-13. The Merlot Line led the team with its energy, with both Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell dropping the gloves in back-to-back fights, and Daniel Paille netting the game-winner. The Boys were Back.
Game 2: Bruins 2, Jets 1 (SO) - January 21 (TD Garden)
The B's generated opportunities throughout the entire game, but had a lack of puck luck and failed to convert, ending up with many close calls and five hit posts in all. Instead, they would have to earn the two points in the shootout, with Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron scoring on Ondrej Pavelec, who had been tough to solve all night. Brad Marchand got his first goal of the season and the penalty kill proved it was once again the hardest to go against in the league, killing off shorthanded situations (and potential momentum swings) at the beginning and end of periods.
"Well I mentioned that to the players just before the third period that this next 20 minutes is probably just as important as the last 20 we'll play in this regular-season schedule," Coach Julien had said following the SO win. "So we had to do whatever we could to come up with two points ... and I think we realize how important a good start and a quick start is for every hockey club. I think we need to continue to think that way."
Game 3: Rangers 4, Bruins 3 (OT) - January 23 (Madison Square Garden)
Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic erased Boston's 2-0 deficit in the second period, and Nathan Horton got the Bruins even again at 3 with 4:23 left in regulation, scoring his first goal since January 19, 2012, as he was sidelined by a concussion last January until the NHL resumed after the lockout. Adam McQuaid got into his first tangle of the season at the end of the first, and the B's carried that momentum into the second, when Marchand got Boston on the board just 1:05 in. Rookie Dougie Hamilton got his first NHL assist on the goal.
Game 4: Bruins 4, Islanders 2 - January 25 (TD Garden)
"Doug-ie, Dougie," was the chant 'round the TD Garden, as the 19-year-old Hamilton carried his poised play from the OT loss to the Rangers back to Boston, and earned his first NHL multi-point game with two assists and the game's First Star. After a slow start to the game, Shawn Thornton made sure the B's tide quickly changed, getting them on the board in the first. A late second-period goal by Gregory Campbell and third-period surge from captain Zdeno Chara and alternate captain Patrice Bergeron led to the 4-2 victory - and all-important two points.
Game 5: Bruins 5, Hurricanes 3 - January 28 (PNC Arena)
The B's had a 2-0 lead 6:15 into the first and a 3-1 lead at the start of the second with goals from their special teams units, but were faced with a tie game heading into the third. Maintaining his poise from the past two games, Dougie Hamilton - who received "not good, but outstanding" marks from Coach Julien postgame - set up David Krejci for the game-winner with 1:50 left in regulation. Tyler Seguin got the "monkey off his back" with an empty-netter to seal it.
Game 6: Bruins 2, Devils 1 (SO) - January 29 (TD Garden)
In their second shootout of the season, not even a flying hot dog could keep the B's from their best start in more than 40 years. After Tyler Seguin was given a do-over shootout attempt due to said food object flying past the goal as he let off his shot, he made sure the puck found the back of the net. Marchand scored on his first-ever shootout attempt and Tuukka Rask stopped the Devils' Marek Zidlicky to get the B's the two points. The victory was Boston's second in two nights in which it scored late in the game, and its first back-to-back of the season.
Game 7: Sabres 7, Bruins 4 - January 31 (TD Garden)
In an "uncharacteristic" defensive lapse, the B's allowed seven goals, including a hat trick from Thomas Vanek, with a history of success against Boston. After a scoreless first, the Bruins erupted for three goals within six minutes of each other, including two from Brad Marchand, to take a 3-1 lead - but turnovers, odd-man rushes and 2-on-1's ended in behind Rask. Thornton left the game after squaring off with 6-foot-8 John Scott and would be deemed out 7-10 days with a concussion, and Paille was high-sticked by Tyler Meyers close to his eye, causing him to miss the ensuing two games.
Game 8: Bruins 1, Maple Leafs 0 - February 2 (Air Canada Centre)
After allowing seven goals in the previous game, Coach Julien's Bruins quickly corrected their mistakes and Rask earned his first shutout of the season and the 12th of his career with 21 saves. The third line broke through with the only goal of the game, as Chris Bourque's speedy skating and net drive led to his first as a Bruin and first NHL score since December 30, 2008 (with Washington). "All of a sudden, Bourquey, all of a sudden," Coach Julien jokingly quipped to Bourque after the game, as a media scrum gathered around the winger.
Game 9: Bruins 2, Canadiens 1 - February 6 (Bell Centre)
In an always tough road building, Boston mostly ran with three lines, due to the injury absences of Thornton, Paille and Marchand (who left the previous game in Toronto in the second period after a hard collision into the boards). Down 1-0 heading into the third period, Coach Julien mixed up the lines and got immediate results. Seguin joined Krejci and Lucic on the top line and scored just 14 seconds into the frame. On their next shift out, Seguin threaded a pass to a crashing Krejci right in the blue paint for the gamw-winner. Tuukka Rask was outstanding, showcasing his best game of the season with strong positional play. Two U's, Two K's, Two Points.
Game 10: Bruins 3, Sabres 1 - February 10 (First Niagara Center)
Only Mother Nature could delay Boston from continuing what became their hottest start in franchise history. After a Saturday match-up at TD Garden against Tampa Bay was postponed from blizzard "Nemo" hitting the Boston area, the rested B's took on a Sabres team that had bested them 10 days earlier. Marchand, back from injury, made an immediate impact, using his quick scoring release to beat Ryan Miller's glove hand, and Patrice Bergeron took advantage of a lucky bounce on the power play, before Krejci fed Lucic for the empty-netter. Khudobin made his second start - and posted his second win, proving even more his capability to own the No. 2 position behind Rask. Also, Vanek was nearly invisible (quite a feat by the B's).
Game 11: Rangers 4, Bruins 3 (SO) - February 12 (TD Garden)
And you thought the first 10 games were exciting?? It wasn't ideal, but the Bruins were happy to walk away with one point in what would have been only their second regulation loss of the season. Though creating bursts of pressure in the O-zone through the first two periods, the B's didn't break through until they were down 3-0 with 11:16 remaining in regulation. "About getting a goal every five minutes," thought the Bruins. And boy, did they deliver. First, David "Clutch" Krejci potted a rebound, before Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand each scored with an extra attacker at the tail end. A loss in the shootout left a bitter taste, but the sweetness of the comeback still resonated.
The last time the B's overcame a three-goal third period deficit to earn a point was actually not too long ago, during the Cup season. On November 20, 2010, the B's came back in the third to tie it 3-3, before the LA Kings won in the shootout.