But the modest two-game win streak they've now put together did more than just add four much-needed points to their total in the standings. The back-to-back resounding victories over Ottawa and Toronto finally have the Bruins moving in the right direction. And after beating the Senators and Leafs by a combined 12-3 count, the Bruins are marching back up the standings with a little swagger in their steps.
"It was huge," Bruins forward Tyler Seguin said of Saturday's 7-0 whitewash of the Leafs in Toronto. "We knew going into [Saturday night] we were either going to stay consistent and keep climbing out of the hole, or we were going to go right back to the bottom and just keep rotting there. So it definitely was nice to see us pull through, but we've got a big couple of games coming up this week."
The Bruins return home to start a five-game homestand against the Islanders on Monday. After that, Edmonton, the surprise team of the Western Conference, pays a visit on Thursday and Northeast Division rival Buffalo is in town on Saturday.
None of those contests will be easy, but Ottawa and Toronto weren't supposed to be either. The Senators were riding a six-game win streak before the Bruins battered them 5-3 on Tuesday. The Leafs were leading the Eastern Conference and hadn't lost in regulation on home ice before Boston brought them back to earth on Saturday.
"That's what we've got to do here," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We realize where we are in the standings and where we are as far as our win-loss record. We've got an opportunity here to make some strides, starting tonight and again this week. We've got three games here so hopefully we can get ourselves above .500 by the end of the week."
The two wins were a clear statement by the Bruins. The reports of their demise after a lethargic opening month are proving to be greatly exaggerated. Last year's historic Stanley Cup run wasn't necessarily a fluke after all, and keeping the bulk of that championship roster intact suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad thing.
The Bruins still have a long way to go. They remain just 5-7-0 on the year and face a long and arduous struggle to climb back up the East standings after giving away so many early points. But they have at least seemingly found their game again.
The significance of this opening week in November wasn't just that the Bruins won two games. It wasn't even that they won both games in such convincing fashion. The real key was that Boston finally got back to playing the kind of hockey that carried them to a title last spring.
The Bruins have been physical and aggressive in the last two games, but in a controlled and disciplined way. They gave the Senators just three power plays and Toronto four, though three of those came in the third period long after the game was decided. And the Bruins killed off all seven of those penalties, while striking on the power play once in each game themselves.
The Bruins maintained their strong defensive identity, shutting down two of the highest-scoring teams in the early going this season. Toronto entered Saturday's game averaging 3.4 goals per game and had not been blanked all season, but Tim Thomas was rarely tested in his 25-save shutout.
And Boston's own offense finally got untracked. After scoring just 21 goals in their first 10 games, the Bruins have an even dozen in the last two. The key to that resurgence has been the balance of the attack, with all four lines contributing.
On Tuesday, five different players scored goals and 12 players earned points. That didn't include Jordan Caron, whose screens were instrumental in two of the goals even though he didn't get credited with an assist on either play.
On Saturday, Seguin stole the show with his first hat trick and Milan Lucic added two goals and an assist, but the scoring was again spread out with 10 different Bruins recording points. For the second straight game, even the fourth line got on the board, with Shawn Thornton scoring his first of the season.
Those are the elements that made the Bruins so successful last season. It took them a month to get back to that winning formula, but the Bruins finally seem to have found their game again. Now they just have maintain it, prove that this past week is their real identity and not let the pre-Halloween horrors of that opening month come back to haunt them again.
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