Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 1/25/13
BOSTON — It really should go without saying that a fast start would be imperative in this year’s 48-game NHL schedule. That didn’t stop everyone from saying it at least a thousand times, though. The Bruins, one year removed from a hangover-induced 3-7 record to begin the season, have done all you could ask in this season’s first week. Boston beat the Islanders 4-2 on Friday night, and with that, they completed their first week. A successful first week it was, with the B’s grabbing seven of a possible eight points in four games, an overtime loss in New York on Wednesday their only hiccup. It’s tough to imagine Claude Julien’s bunch drawing it up any better. An opening night win over the Rangers set the tone for the week. The Bruins battled on Monday to turn back a pesky Jets club. Lessons could be learned and positives could be drawn from Wednesday’s loss to the Rangers. And the B’s capped it off with a win on Friday, despite looking somewhat lethargic and sloppy through two periods. “I’m obviously happy, but I don’t think we were extremely happy with our game tonight,” Julien said of Friday night’s effort. Surely the coach and his staff will pick some nits about Friday night’s game, and that will be addressed Sunday after a hard-earned day off on Saturday. But there’s no denying that this Bruins team couldn’t be in better position through one week of an abbreviated season. Third line excluded, Boston has gotten balanced scoring from all of its lines, even the fourth line, which had a nice night Friday with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell both finding the back of the net. Tuukka Rask is leaving no reason for reservation about giving him the No. 1 goalie spot with Tim Thomas out of the picture. The defense is once again the backbone of the club, a staple of Julien’s teams. That blue line corps has been given a boost from 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton, who, if he can continue what he showed in the first week, will be a star in the league before too long. The penalty kill has been world class, working at a 100 percent rate. The PK has stolen the B’s at least three points, with huge 5-on-3 kills playing a key role in both games with the Rangers. The only real thing you can point at as a point of contention would be the power play. Boston has looked decent at times on the man-advantage, but still has only one goal to show for it. They appeared to take a step back on Friday night, too. Other than that, though, it’s tough to pinpoint another area in which the team needs drastic improvement. The third line production is lacking, no doubt, but the addition of Chris Bourque has made a transition period necessary. Julien called Friday night Bourque’s best game in a Bruins uniform, so maybe a breakout for that line is just around the corner. That would be a welcomed addition to a team that is already looking like it’s clicking on all cylinders. The fast start was imperative, and the Bruins have gotten just that. With the teeth of their schedule still to come (17 games in March), the B’s are making the most out of their early opportunities, something that should put them in a great position. “It’s a point or two that separate teams from making the playoffs and not,” Campbell said. “It’s often these games early in the season, that you look back and say, ‘Geez, I wish I would have got that point.’” If the season’s first week is any indication, the Bruins won’t have to be worrying about leaving extra points on the table when this season wraps up in a few short months.
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