Halifax - October 16, 2013 - Optimism is everywhere around the league as teams, their fan base, their media have taken this opportunity to plan Cup parade routes around the NHL. Ok, that`s not true, it appears that the Oilers are in a tough spot, another case of nothing changes, nothing changes. Some teams are putting up some early season points which should help their cause as the year progresses and the tendency is things always balance out such as the Avalanche under the guidance of Patrick Roy who is bound to entertain and add onto his early season $10,000 fine.
This is about the Bruins though so I digress. The Boston Bruins opened their season against the Lightning on the 3rd of October with a 3-1 win. They looked sluggish for most of the game, and Tampa Bay outskated the Bruins who just capitalized on the few chances they were given. Not a terribly surprising start as the break between the last day of camp and the first game was considerable. New Bruins Jarome Iginla and Loui Erikkson played their first game with Iginla dropping the gloves after taking a clean hit immediately endearing him to the Bruins faithful.
The game also had Carl Soderberg watching from the press box as an ankle injury sustained during the regular season has had him sidelined for the first five games of the year for the Bruins after a very strong pre-season. That meant that Jordan Caron and another new Bruin, Reilly Smith playing alongside Chris Kelly who scored on a penalty shot and looked good doing so setting him up nicely for an 84 goal season. Clearly, that will not happen, but Kelly is hoping to rebound from a tough campaign during the shortened season last year and in the first 5 games has done so nicely.
The Bruins went on to score a one sided win against a Wings team who were playing their third game in five nights and it showed. The B`s scored a few power play goals, something which has been a struggle since Marc Savard last wore a Bruins jersey.
In typical NHL scheduling fashion, where nothing makes sense, the Bruins had the next four days off before facing aforementioned Patrick Roy`s Avalanche and again, they looked sluggish and the fast skating Avs took advantage of the Bruins inability to figure out JS Giguere who posted the shutout. Next up was a trip to Ohio to face the Blue Jackets in a matinee affair where the Bruins found a way to win with Erikkson tallying his first as a Bruin. Returning home for a holiday Monday game against the Red Wings again, the Bruins fired plenty of rubber but couldn't get enough traffic nor enough pucks behind last minute replacement Gustavsson filling in for Howard who was injured apparently during the warm up.
The Bruins have also chosen to rotate Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton as the 7th defenseman with Bartkowski watching the first three games from the press box and Hamilton the last two. Both, in my opinion have played well with Bartkowski initially looking a bit rusty in his first action against the Jackets but played well after settling in and ridding himself of some of the rust that had accumulated while playing the role of observer from the press box.
Against the Blue Jackets, Brad Marchand was shifted down the lineup to the third line as he has struggled to find his inner agitator so far this year. Not to worry, Marchand seemingly does this yearly, forgets for a short period what or how he needs to play to be successful, finds it, and returns to form. Reilly Smith was shifted up to the second line and has asserted himself well for the last two games although he did allow Zetterberg too much space on the Wings first goal on Monday and when you do that, your cooked.
So, what to make of the Bruins? They are fine, Iginla is still searching for his first goal but has fit in very nicely with Lucic and Krejci. Erikkson has now scored in his last two games, Soderberg is getting closer to making his season debut, and there are plenty of options with personnel. Nice to have the depth, and with Tuukka Rask looking very good between the pipes, allow me to do what too many others are doing and that`s start setting that parade route, nothing can stop these Bruins…except opponents, injuries, luck, but let`s not go there today. This team hasn`t shown close to its A game, but it`s five games into an 84 game schedule, there is plenty of time left to do so.