For casual Boston sports fans or just the ones who get wrapped up and fully engulfed in the biggest stories, itís the perfect symmetry.
When the Bruins made their nearly two-month run to a second Stanley Cup championship in three years last spring, the scintillating start by the previously down-on-their-luck Red Sox was a mere footnote. Each comeback win for the Sox in May and June was overshadowed by another dazzling save by Tuukka Rask, the hole in James Reimerís glove, the legend of Torey Krug, Patrice Bergeronís otherworldly pain tolerance, the domination of the lock-to-win Penguins, Jaromir Jagrís postgame skates, or the disappearance of Tyler Seguin.
Now, their seasons have come full-circle.
Fresh off a third World Series title in a decade and an eighth rolling rally for Boston in the last dozen years, the Sox are the talk of the town. They party with fans, buy duck boats, tour the city with their own ďCup,Ē and, pitchers and catchers report in only three months. Youíd hardly know the NHL season is underway.
So, what better time to break out your gloves, scarf, and touque, and welcome back Seguin?
Despite a pattern of getting off to slow starts in games and lacking in consistency, the Bruins are 8-5-0 going into tonightís showdown with their former superstar and his new team from Dallas.
To catch you up for the water cooler, the Bís won seven of their first nine contests before hitting a slide thatís seen them drop three of four, leading to head coach Claude Julien questioning his teamís effort and compete level. Thatís basically coincided with the loss of Loui Eriksson, the talented forward acquired from the Stars in the deal that gave Seguin and his dirty laundry a fresh start and simultaneously saved the Bruins a few million dollars on their cap.
Since Erikssonís concussion, suffered on a blindside hit from John Scott in Buffalo on Oct. 23, the Bruins have gone 2-3-0 and scored just 2.2 goals per game, down from the 3.1 average with the winger in the lineup. Fortunately, heís back on the ice for practices and could even make his return this evening. If he has any say, you can imagine he will.
Bostonís only other injury of substance is on defense, where Johnny Boychuk is day-to-day with an undisclosed ailment. However, as fans may remember from the postseason, the club possesses substantial depth on the blue-line with the likes of Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and Matt Bartkowski all battling for a regular shift.
Offensively, the usual suspects have picked up where they left off. David Krejci leads the team with 13 points and 11 assists, while Milan Lucic has posted six goals and six helpers of his own. New forward and the once-hated Jarome Iginla has enjoyed a hot streak after a snake-bitten start and now accounts for nine points in 13 games. The typically feisty Brad Marchand is playing with visible frustration and is still trying to find his game. He has just four points and has been a minus-player.
Worthy of note, as well, has been the play of new winger Reilly Smith, whoís chipped in seven points as an integral member of the teamís reinvented third line. In Erikssonís absence, heís also seen time on the second unit, though the promotion hasnít done him much good. Nevertheless, donít discount him as a valuable part of that deal with Dallas.
Meanwhile, all seven of the Bís power play goals have come from their defensemen, three for Krug and two apiece from Hamilton and captain Zdeno Chara.
In net, Rask is earning every penny of the lofty contract he was handed in the offseason. Through 11 games, heís 7-4-0 with a 1.73 GAA (second in the league) and .940 save percentage (fourth), while backup Chad Johnson (not that one) has been limited to a pair of starts. Combined, the Black and Gold have allowed 1.9 goals per game to rank third in the NHL. It is Julien's system, after all.
Along the way, Seguin hasnít skipped a beat with his new squad. After 245 regular season and playoffs games with Boston by the age of 21, not to mention an E! True Hollywood Storyís worth of off-ice rumors and slandering character attacks, the dynamic forward leads Dallas with six goals and 15 points in his first 14 games. Heíll take the Garden ice on fire, too, with five points in his last four games.
Itís a date weíve had circled on our calendars for months. Thanks to the Red Sox for the perfectly timed segue.
Oh, and if the guys look a little funny out on the ice, itís not that theyíve taken a bearded cue from their friends in the Fens. Itís Movember, a cause devoted to menís health awareness and reminding us that Tom Selleck and Burt Reynolds should have their own international holidays.
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About this blog
Adam Kaufman is a writer and broadcaster who can also be heard regularly on 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ NewsRadio 1030, the national CBS Sports Radio Network, and broadcasting Boston College hockey games. The Massachusetts native is a Syracuse grad and a pop culture fanatic who offers a unique and entertaining look at your favorite Boston sports teams. Please don't hold his love for Jean-Claude Van Damme movies against him.
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