Sunshine State Sweep Vaults B’s to Sudden Prominence

By:Mike Grinnell

With overtime wins against the Panthers on Monday and the Lightning on Tuesday, your Boston Bruins now sit atop the NHL’s Atlantic Division, tied with Tampa Bay for first place.

In a season that most considered a transition year for Claude Julien’s club, it’s proving to be anything but that.

In the past week, the Bruins have proved they belong, facing off against the defending Stanley Cup champion, the team with the best record in the NHL, and the two teams that sat above them in the division. And in a nearly best-case scenario, the went 3-0-1 in that span. Pretty, pretty good for a team that was talking about selling at the trade deadline a week ago.

GM Don Sweeney did just the opposite of sell at the deadline, acquiring Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles. The Black and Gold hasn’t been the same since.

In five games with the Bruins, Stempniak has been a fantastic addition, adding six points, one goal, and five assists. The goal, one of the biggest of the season for the Bruins, put the club past the Panthers in overtime.

John-Michael Liles has been a huge pickup as well, averaging 20-plus minutes of Time On Ice against Tampa Bay, Florida, and Washington. Liles has also added two assists, including a beautiful saucer pass to Loui Eriksson for a goal against Chicago.

With the additions of Liles and Stempniak, the dominate play from Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, and the spectacular goaltending play of late, is it time to consider this team a contender to come out of the Eastern Conference?

Yes.

While the Bruins still have a major test ahead when the travel to what some call the “Bermuda Triangle of the NHL” in California where they’ll face the Sharks, Kings, and Ducks next week, the B’s proved this past week they are indeed a solid hockey team deserving of their top spot in the standings.

With 14 games remaining this season, the Bruins can’t take their foot off the gas petal. They can’t get comfortable and complacent. And they need to continue playing with a chip on their shoulder and carry this momentum into the playoffs.

 

 

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