The leaves have changed colors, the winds have picked up, and the temperatures have been dropping, which means fall is in New England and with it comes another Thanksgiving. This is the time we stop to reflect and give thanks for the people in our lives and things we have.
Personally, I am thankful for my father watching the Game of the Week on television when I was four years old. I would sit on his lap, watch the game, and ask questions about it. That was a little over forty years ago. I have played, refereed, and coached since that day and I will be eternally thankful to him.
In Boston, hockey fans throughout the region are thankful for this season’s Bruins team. The team is off to an unexpected quick start and currently sits in second place in the National Hockey League’s Northeast Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference.
The fans are thankful for general manager Peter Chiarelli and his having the foresight to not trade goaltender Tim Thomas. Fans were screaming for Chiarelli to jettison Thomas to any team that would take him after last season but the g.m. stood fast and kept the former University of Vermont Catamount. Thomas has showed his appreciation by posting the top goals against average, the best save percentage, and the most shut outs of any netminder in the league. Thomas is an early leader in Vezina Trophy consideration as the league’s best goaltender and also as a possible Hart Trophy recipient as the NHL’s most valuable player. Bruins fanatics are very thankful for double T.
Bruins nation is giving thanks for other players, as well. Following closely behind Thomas is winger Milan Lucic, who is leading the club with ten goals. The 6 feet 4 inch winger is playing with more speed and acceleration this season which shows the hockey world he is fully healed from the high ankle sprain which plagued him throughout much of the 2009-2010 season.
Nathan Horton hears the praise of the TD Garden crowds. People in the Hub were not quite sure what to expect from the winger but his quick start out of the gate put him at the top of the team’s scoring stats where he remains with 18 points in 19 games.
Perhaps the most consistent player in black and gold is center Patrice Bergeron. Bergy makes the art of winning faceoffs look easy. He is one of the best penalty killers in the National Hockey League. Offensively, he constantly sets up teammates for scoring opportunities. His defensive play should be must viewing for all young forwards who aspire to play professional hockey. The faithful fans breathe easier whenever this 25 year old pivot jumps over the boards.
Speaking of breathing easier, Beantown fanatics have said thanks for the return of David Krejci from the wrist injury that ended his playoffs last season against the Philadelphia Flyers. As if there were any doubts in Boston, Krejci showed the world his elite skating, puckhandling, passing, and play making skills at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver while playing for his native Czech Republic. B’s fans get to see that every night and at the age of 24, Krejci will only get better.
Mark Recchi, does anything else need to be said? Fans in the other 29 NHL cities can only wish they could watch and enjoy this future hall of famer night in and night out. Recchi needs just two points to reach 1,500. He currently sits thirteenth on the NHL’s all time scoring list. Recchi has also been a steadying influence on rookies Tyler Seguin, Jordan Caron, and Brad Marchand, helping to ease their transitions into the NHL.
One would be remiss not to expand on those Bruins’ rookies. Tyler Seguin brought back hope and anticipation on draft day last June and he has not disappointed. He has scored four goals to go along with four assists in limited ice time but, recently, he has begun to play with more confidence and is more responsible on the defensive side of the puck and because of that, he has been rewarded by coach Claude Julien with incresed playing time. Seguin has shown flashes of his quickness, acceleration, and shooting skills. Crowds inside the Garden and out are thankful the Bruins selected him at the 2010 NHL draft. Jordan Caron, who was the B’s first round selection in 2009 has been a very reliable player. He has chipped in with three goals and three assists but his defensive play has been so good that coach Julien uses Caron in penalty killing situations. Pretty heady stuff for a rookie. Brad Marchand has been the anchor of a fourth line which has the responsibility of shutting down opponents’ top lines. He is a fast skater with a hard shot who will grow into a steady third or second line center after he garners a bit more experience.
And how can B’s nation not want to give thanks for the impending return of center Marc Savard? He was cleared to participate in contact drills in practice yesterday and is traveling with the team on its current southern road trip. A return date has not been set but he is getting closer each day to centering the team’s number one line again.
Of course, fans are thankful for the remainder of the Bruins roster. Each player has contributed to the team’s success thus far this season. The defense has been rock solid and are a major factor as to why the club leads in goals against. The team has given up a miniscule 38 goals putting the goaltending tandem of Thomas and Tuukka Rask in line to win the Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed.
The clamour to have Julien fired, which erupted after the playoff loss to Philadelphia, is not heard anywhere any longer. The leadership and confidence the entire coaching staff shows in its troops is visible in the team’s overall play. When players know their coaches have confidence in them, they usually play their best. This team has done that on almost every night and it shows in the results.
With Thanksgiving just hours away, Boston hockey fans are thankful the Bruins are the home team.
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Topics: 2010 Winter Olympics, Boston, Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, Czech Republic, David Krejci, Eastern Conference, Game Of The Week, Garden, Hart Trophy, Jennings Trophy, Jordan Caron, Marc Savard, Mark Recchi, Milan Lucic, Montreal Canadiens, Most Valuable Player, Nathan Horton, National Hockey League, New England, NHL, NHL Draft, Northeast Division, Patrice Bergeron, Peter Chiarelli, Philadelphia Flyers, Playoffs, TD Garden, Thanksgiving, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, University Of Vermont, Vancouver, Vezina Trophy