By Mike Miccoli It’s the second week of December and the Boston Bruins are about to go on their most important road trip of the season, even if it doesn’tRead More
Articles by: Mike Miccoli
For years, Carl Soderberg was a legend–just not in the way that you’d suspect.
Acquired via trade from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for once-promising goaltender Hannu Toivonen in the summer of 2007, Soderberg became a myth of a prospect. He was a player whose NHL rights belonged to the Bruins, but he never made an appearance anywhere in the organization’s pipeline.
The truth was, no one really knew if Soderberg would ever make his way to Boston, especially after playing six seasons in Sweden. Now, more than a quarter into the 2013-14 NHL season, it’s hard to imagine the Bruins roster without the presence of Soderberg on the third line.
Expectations, much like the Boston Bruins, have changed greatly. It’s not just about staying in games anymore, it’s about playing a full-60 minute battle that showcases the skill and grit of the roster. It’s not about just winning games anymore, it’s about winning games decisively. It’s a sharp contrast to where the team was years ago, but hey, win a Cup and get back to the final within two years of each other, and that happens.
It’s not about being a playoff contender, it’s about being a Cup favorite. Things change. Expectations become higher.
Maybe it was just what the Bruins needed: five games at home to find their collective energy and accumulate some movement in the standings.
After their first lengthy home-stand of the season, the Bruins leave the TD Garden on Thursday night collecting nine of ten possible points, capped off with a 3-2 overtime win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. For a team that was a bit inconsistent to start the season, it was a step in the right direction even if the full-60 minute effort still isn’t there.
Before the season began, I considered Dougie Hamilton to be the Bruins’ seventh defensemen on the depth chart.
What a mistake that was.
To be fair, this had been coming for some time. Hamilton had put together a string of solid games in his sophomore season that included a goal and two assists in his last three games prior to Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Once Adam McQuaid left the game due to a lower-body injury in the first period, that’s when Hamilton really stepped up.
Before the Florida Panthers and the Boston Bruins could drop the puck on Thursday’s game, Claude Julien’s simple answer to a question about a former teammate set the tone for the entire night.
“They’d be right,” said Julien, when asked if the Bruins don’t win a Stanley Cup without Tim Thomas. He went on a bit further.
“Tim Thomas doesn’t win the Stanley Cup, if our team doesn’t play as well as they did in front of him,” finished the Bruins’ head coach. “So, this is an honest statement: Tim played well but I think our team played just as well in front of him.”
Forget what he said about Thomas. Julien set the tone by stressing the importance of playing as a team, in order to be successful. It was a common theme that came full circle. The Bruins needed to go back to the basics and play their game in order to win. After a bumpy first period, it’s exactly what they did.
Every time Seguin touched the puck, boos rained down on the Stars’ top-line center. He may have been wearing a different number, but Seguin had a target on his back for the entire night. Not because he decided to sign somewhere other than Boston. Not because he demanded to be play for another team. Not even because he injured a current Bruin. Seguin was being booed for something he had zero control over: an offseason trade.