Your Bruins are 14-3-4 through 21 games. They are currently tied with the New York Rangers for first place in the
To put it briefly: the 2008 Bruins are tearing shit up.
Before I start complaining about things (as I am wont to do), let's give out our Three Stars of the First Quarter.
3. Milan Lucic. This could just as easily have gone to sophomore center David Krejci, whose dazzling
2. Marc Savard. Twenty. Seven. Freaking. Points. Savvy's on pace to score over 120 points this season (his career high to date is 97 during the 2005-2006 season with the Thrashers). There's currently a fierce 4-way tie in the league for second place in overall scoring (Savvy, Alexander Semin, Simon Gagne, and Ryan Getzlaf, all with 27 points behind Evgeni Malkin's 31). The Bruins offense is simply unstoppable right now, and Savvy's the unquestioned leader of that fearsome attack. Hurrah for blue-eyed centers!
1. Tim Thomas. This goes without question. It's inconceivable (incontheevable!) that we'd be where we currently are without the spectacular between-the-pipes stylings of everyone's favorite scruffy Michiganian. With an untouchable .944 save percentage, he's got 9 wins (including 2 shutouts) and just 2 losses in 14 starts. Moreover, with the way these Bruins have been playing offense, he's becoming more and more of a done deal each night he takes the ice: Thomas is allowing just 1.80 goals per game, while the Bruins are scoring an average of 3.15 regulation goals per game (a whopping 3.80 in the month of November so far). That's just, like, math. When you're scoring an average of 2 goals per game more than your goalie is allowing? You're going to win, and that's all there is to it.
And yet, as I've reminded you all time and time again: it would be shortsighted of us as fans not to remember that Tim Thomas essentially came out of nowhere and started putting up these stats -- this is the same goalie, after all, who was responsible for a soul-crushing 10-2 loss to the Capitals last year followed immediately by an 8-1 loss to the (goddamn) Canadiens. Still, I'm finding myself increasingly unable to talk rationally about my beloved Timmy... and here's where the fun starts! Behold, today's special guest: the irascible Raskolnikov of Melt Your Face-off, who graciously agreed to take time out from his busy brown liquor-drinking schedule to offer some fresh perspective on Tim Thomas for all of our enlightenment.
You don't need a drunken guest blogger to tell you that Tim Thomas is the frontrunner for the Vezina. He leads the league in goals-against-average, save percentage, and some other misleading metrics that aren't found on Behind the Net. Jack Edwards loves Thomas so much that he'd probably adopt the guy. In fact, many of you look at Thomas the same way: a lost puppy with sad eyes that you wish the best for. Thus, the obvious comparison to Thomas isn't Hasek, another goalie who toiled in obscurity for years; it's Li'l Brudder, the one-legged dog from Homestar Runner (My allusions are always five years behind).
I don't mean to dismiss Thomas' accomplishments, but I want him to try to succeed rather than actually succeed. First, he's listed at 5'11, 201 lbs, which means that he's actually 5'8", 175 lbs. I already feel sorry for him. Second, he looks like Martin Prince, Jr., which also elicits sympathy. Chara probably hangs Thomas by his jockstrap after every practice. Third, Thomas' overreactions after allowing a goal resemble a petulant toddler who doesn't get what he wants. Normally, I'd be pissed off at a professional athlete for acting so foolishly. However, as I already mentioned, Thomas neither fits the goalie build nor looks older than 12. He educes sympathy from me rather than disgust.
My feelings will change if Thomas does win the Vezina. He would no longer be the gritty underdog that captures the hearts of hockey fans. Imagine the superfluous love analysts have for Brodeur combined with Thomas' grittiness. My teeth are rotting just thinking about it.
It's easy to be misled into blind faith in Thomas simply because he's so, well, likable. It's important to remember, however, that he may struggle as the season progresses, and it'll be just as important (if not more so) to give him our support then. (Then again, Dustin Pedroia did win the MLB MVP. SO WHO THE FUCK KNOWS.) Also, not to be a conspiracy theorist, but... first Brodeur and now Luongo out for possibly the rest of the season? What's going on here? Has anyone heard from Henrik Lundqvist?! Someone call the authorities! NO ONE IS SAFE!
In summary: Looch + Savvy + Timmy = yay. On with the bitchery! Are there any real causes for concern with these Bruins? Oh, indeed. Most notably: the apparent disappearance from the face of the earth of the Bruins leadership. I direct you to the statistics of our 3 alternate captains currently on the roster (excluding 4th alternate Andrew Ference, who is out with a broken tibia):
PJ Axelsson 0 G, 6 A (*only 18 GP)
Patrice Bergeron 4 G, 10 A
Marco Sturm 6 G, 6 A (*only 18 GP)
in contrast with the statistics of 3 of Boston's hottest young talents, all suiting up for just their second Bruins season:
Milan Lucic 6 G, 7 A
David Krejci 5 G, 9 A
Phil Kessel 10 G, 6 A
If we imagine Sturm at right instead of left wing, we essentially have two complete lines there: one composed of alternate captains, and one composed entirely of sophomores. The first line has 10 goals and 11 assists for a total of 21 points; the second has 21 goals and 22 assists for a total of 43 points (together, averaging over 2 points per game).
Let that sink in for a moment. Sure, it's amazing to have the glut of sizzling young talent I promised would show up this season, but it's unnerving to see two career Bruins (Axelsson and Bergeron entered the season with 14 combined seasons of experience between them) and lighting-fast skater (SLASH THE GUY WE TRADED MY LOVE TO SAN JOSE FOR, WHERE THE FUCK ARE WAYNE PRIMEAU AND BRAD STUART NOW) Marco Sturm failing to produce consistently when they're on the ice. No, offensive production is not the only measure of a player's impact on the ice (Axelsson in particular is noteworthy for being a strong, defensively-minded skater who contributes in many other ways), but when the team as a whole is playing a ferocious offensive game, you expect everyone to be contributing. It's worth noting, at any rate, that there are still some inconsistencies on this team that will need to be strengthened down the line if these mighty Bruins are to make a genuine run at -- dare I say it? oh, I dare -- the Cup.
December is a long, cold month of eating too many cookies and buying wrapping paper that always runs out halfway through something. Thank goodness for the hapless Southeast Division, whom we face many times throughout. Your 2008 Bruins are amazing. I sure as hell hope you're watching. Fuck your family. Can your family smash Canadians through Plexiglass? Yeah. Didn't think so. So be sure and take time out (especially for Friday's noon game against the Islanders, where my brother and I will be gleefully screaming from the balcony) from all that holiday togetherness crap and catch your Bruins as the season continues. Wheee! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
No-Pants Party Update: Thank you so much to those of you who've already let me know of your interest. It's going to be loads of fun, and not at all a sausage-fest at which I am the only girl*. We're currently planning to get together for a Bruins game at the end of December, when our beloved Sh!tShow will be home for the holidays from the promiscuous West Coast. Please stay tuned for email updates when I stop being drunk this weekend, and if you haven't emailed me already, what the hell are you waiting for?
*not a guarantee