Identity is a hard thing to establish when you are constantly compared to the previous form of yourself. With three wins in a row, the Bruins are starting to establish their own unique identity, separate from the celebrated form of last season.
Like a teenager going through his or her awkward stage, the redefinition of this Bruins squad hasn’t come easily.
"The challenge we’re facing now, it will help us in the long run," head coach Claude Julien said when the Bruins lineup was marred by injuries and a lack of consistency.
Individually, player identities are starting to evolve.
Blake Wheeler has fought through his sophomore slump at the start of the season to become an effective cycle-inducing winger for David Krejci.
Krejci’s growing confidence and return to form is evident with his subtle dekes, aggressive entries into the zone and positive demeanor.
Byron Bitz has shown smarts in his game that earned him a spot — at least for one night — next to Marc Savard on the top line.
"We’re so happy for him," exclaimed locker neighbor and former linemate Steve Begin, grabbing Bitz by the shoulders and shaking him with glee.
Tuukka Rask has taken his promotion to the big leagues and embraced it with pride and a wicked competitiveness, carefully balanced with humility.
And Patrice Bergeron has continued to showcase his value in all aspects of the game. A four-point night in St Louis was the latest example of his effectiveness, from his faceoff wins to the assists on power-play, shorthanded and even-strength goals.
These are just some of the things that exhibit individual growth within the team, and it's not always about improvement. It’s about constantly redefining yourself and finding different ways each and every season to be an effective tool in the overall picture of the team.
The Bruins are completing their four-game road trip on Wednesday in St. Paul, Minn.
Last season, it was an early homecoming for Blake Wheeler, as the Bruins practiced at his old stomping grounds — Mariucci Arena at the University of Minnesota. Back then, we walked down memory lane with Wheeler and Phil Kessel, who were Gopher teammates in 2005-06.
This time, St. Paul is a reunion city for former teammates, as the Bruins prepare to say hello to former Bostonians Chuck Kobasew and Shane Hnidy.
The city is also home to Zack Greer, a former Duke University lacrosse standout who holds the NCAA Division I record for career goals. Earlier this year, he was the third overall pick of the National Lacrosse League (Minnesota Swarm) and Major League Lacrosse (Long Island Lizards) — and he is the cousin of Bruins forward Shawn Thornton.