Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Cold November Reign!

As much as I enjoy the month of December and all that it brings (other than ice, snow and slush), I'll miss November this year. How can we not as Bruins fans? The B's will have a hard time matching the pace the set this month. 11-1-1! WOW! A "November Reign" to be sure. Boston currently sits atop the Eastern Conference and are second overall in the league and that my friends is no fluke. They're second in the NHL in both goals scored and goals allowed. Pretty good recipe for success there, eh? As far as last night's "measuring stick" game against Detroit, I'd say the boys passed with flying colors. They seemed guilty of being a little tight, in awe and watching the Wings to start the game. But man oh man, once they got that first goal (on their first shot, as I told the obnoxious Wings fans behind me they would) things were different. They instantly all seemed to decide "hey, these guys are no different than us, we can skate with the and we can be more physical than them" "And hey, we even have better goal tending than them." From that point on the B's were a different team, which is to say they were the same team they've been all month- Fast, skilled, smart and dominant in all three zones. Obviously Detroit, being the immensely skilled team they are, had stretches where they carried the play. But it was never the same as the first 10-13 minutes of the game, where it looked like they could blow out the B's. At no point did I ever start to worry that the Wings were going to come back to win it. Even when the B's got hemmed in (Thank you Fred Cusick!) they rarely gave up great scoring chances and even when they did it never resulted in any real second chances. Manny Fernandez stopped everything thrown at him with the one goal he surrendered being off the power play that deflected off Marc Savard's skate. Speaking of Manny. I think it's time I issue a public apology, and I'm not alone. For all of us that "hated" Manny (which translates to: "I hate paying an injured backup goalie over $4M while our all-star starter makes $1M"), we have to admit he's been a huge success for us this year. His confidence is back and so is his technique. Granted, he does seem to give up the odd softie, especially early in games at times, but his "mental toughness" is much better than I expected. He seems to be able to shake off bad starts pretty easily and settles in quickly to give his teammates a chance to win every night. Despite what one HUGELY annoying Wings fan (from Vermont no less?!) had to say about it, I was thrilled to hear a "Manny, Manny, Manny..." chant go up last night. The guys has earned our respect. Obviously the fans are starting to see him for the player he IS, not the player he WAS. As for the rest of the B's, once again youth was served. Blake Wheeler, Phil Kessel, David Krecji, Milan Lucic, Matt Hunwick and the rest of the "kids" all contributed in a big way again and "old man" Chuck Kobasew at 26 years of age, scored again for good measure. Detroit didn't dress anyone under the age of 24. Boston dressed 7 players under that age, and they were all key factors in the win. But, for my money, the guy that had the best game once again flew under the radar. That guy would be the veteran, Shane Hnidy. He (Hnidy) played a very steady, smart game all night. Which given the fact that Aaron Ward was knocked out with an injury early in the first (which the B's can not afford!), Hnidy and the rest of the D- had to play more minutes. But to me even without the injury, I thought Hnidy earned extra time anyway. He was calm with the puck and just made smart safe play after smart safe play. He rarely gets the credit he deserves, but last night he was lights out and worthy of a "Star" (I would have given it to Hnidy before Chara, who I think had a rough game. Couple bad give aways and general indecision with the puck) So as November turns to December, Boston is in the drivers seat in the division and conference standings. A look ahead at the schedule doesn't exactly send chills of fear down your spine. without taking anyone for granted, you have to feel pretty good when you see Tampa (twice) Florida, Carolina (twice) Toronto, Atlanta (THREE times) and Blues on tap this month. The "toughest" games (on paper) would be the Caps, Penguins and Devils. Those games are all on the road as well. But if Boston keeps playing the way they are, they may not match the record of November. But December could be another very festive month for Bruins fans. Merry Christmas indeed. Go B's!! Kynch

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