No. 1: No one could’ve predicted this — not anyone in the Boston Bruins’ front office, coaches’ office, locker room or in the national hockey punditry.
After reaching the playoffs for the first time in four years and making the top-seeded Montreal Canadiens sweat through seven games last spring, the Boston Bruins were probably going to contend for at least a home-ice spot this season. But no one — no one — had them getting off to the type of dominating start they’ve begun the 2008-09 season with.
Head coach Claude Julien’s Bruins’ 28-5-4 start to open this season might be the biggest story in the entire NHL right now — so it has to top the list of Top 10 Bruins stories of ’08.
With the addition of veteran free agent Michael Ryder and the return of Patrice Bergeron to the line-up, the Bruins figured to be a better offensive team. And there was no reason to think the defense would waver with the same cast back, plus the addition of a healthy Manny Fernandez to complement Tim Thomas in the crease.
But the Bruins’ production has been off the charts fantastic. Their 60 points through their first 37 games is their best start since the 1929-30 season when the club accumulated 65 points over the same amount of contests.
Individually, three players have already achieved personal bests — with David Krejci (13 goals, 27 assists, 40 points), Milan Lucic (10 goals) and Phil Kessel (23 goals, 39 points) leading the way.
And a couple rookies — winger Blake Wheeler and defenseman Matt Hunwick — have chipped in in ways only the Bruins’ player development department could’ve dreamed. Wheeler is a Calder Trophy contender with 13-10-23 totals and a plus-22 rating. And Hunwick has taken advantage of Andrew Ference’s absence by putting up 3-12-15 totals and a plus-14 rating.
But even more impressive than the gaudy offensive and defensive numbers has been the level of consistency the Bruins maintained throughout the ’08 portion of their current schedule. The Bruins have only lost three in a row once and two in a row once — and they’ve never lost consecutive games in regulation. It doesn’t matter which goaltender from their league-leading tandem gets the nod, nor which players depart the line-up due to injury.
It’s been the kind of start that one only witnesses once in a generation in an NHL city. Of course, what the Bruins do with the 2009 portion of their schedule will decide where their momentous start ranks in the annals of the storied franchise.