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A View from the Top. Boston is NHL's Best

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA – Thanks to a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night in the TD Banknorth Garden -- the team’s 10th straight win -- this morning the Boston Bruins are the top team in the NHL.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that the matchups against the Penguins, last season’s Eastern Conference entry in the Stanley Cup Finals, were just what the Black & Gold needed to reignite the team’s focus.

“Yeah, it was a tough, tough tilt for us and a good challenge,” he said. “They’re obviously a pretty good team and they came at us pretty hard tonight.

“So it was a good win for us.”

A good win? That may be the understatement of the season, but you can judge for yourself.

The 10-game run of victories is the Bruins longest such streak since a 10-game win streak from March 9-28, 1973. It is the longest such streak in the league this season and is tied for the fourth longest in team history behind streaks of 14, 13 and 11 games.

The Bruins also extended their home win streak to 14 games. It is their longest such streak since a 16-game home win streak from Jan. 10-Mar. 25, 1976.  It is the longest such streak in the league this season and is the fifth longest in team history behind streaks of 20, 19, 16 and 15 games.

Not bad, but just don’t expect the Bruins to be talking about the victory on Friday.

“After every game…we’ve really turned the page,” said Julien. “[Friday], we’re going to start talking about Buffalo – we’re not going to be talking about Pittsburgh.

“This game is done.

“We really focus on what’s ahead of us,” he said.

Asked if the team understood the magnitude of their accomplishments, Julien said they did.

“Obviously, we realize that we have a pretty good streak going on,” he said. “You want to make it continue, so you take the appropriate measures.

“Sometimes, it’s the players on their own taking the bull by the horns or there are times when we’ve had to step in and make sure that nobody got comfortable.

“But the one thing that really does happen is that we’re really not looking behind us. We are looking ahead and we’re pretty good [at turning the page], and I’ll give the players a lot of credit with… turning the page and putting those games away and really focusing on the next one,” he said.

Bruins left wing Milan Lucic explained that he and his teammates are playing for each other and that the team has put itself in a good situation.

“I think a big thing is as players we hold each other accountable to do things that will make the team successful,” he said. “No matter who we are playing with we have to keep doing what we do best and just have to keep trying to contribute in any way that we can.

“We are just going out there and focusing on what we have to do, sticking to the game plan.

“It is not by accident that we have won ten straight,” he said.

Assistant captain P.J. Axelsson, who had a goal and an assist on Thursday and who owns a 1-3-4 line in the two games with Pittsburgh, may have agreed with Lucic saying the wins were no accident, but he was not discounting some favorable karma.

“Well, we have been a little lucky too,” said Axelsson. “We won some games that maybe we didn’t play that well [and] I guess it’s a good thing as long as you know it.

“But I think we have been playing some pretty good hockey, which is why the W’s are there.”

Julien said that the goals from Marc Savard, Lucic and Axelsson were exactly what he had wanted when he moved his lines around before the home and home with Pittsburgh.

“I was looking for a response from lines,” said Julien. “Lucic and Savard and [Phil] Kessel -- I thought they weren’t playing as well as they could and neither was the [Stephane] Yelle, Axelsson and [Chuck] Kobasew line.

“I was kind of talking about all six of those guys, three of them on two units and I didn’t think they were generating much.

“So with Luch, with that hard-working line, I think it certainly helped him find his identity again, as far as being a grinder -- and being a grinder doesn’t stop you from scoring as you could see tonight,” he said.

B’s goalie Manny Fernandez, who is now 13-2-1 and owns the leagues second best goals against average (2.02) and fourth best save percentage (.930), wasn’t surprised to see the hero tag being passed around.

“Every night it is a different guy overall,” said Fernandez. “Guys are stepping up every night.

“I think all the guys here…understand and we get that feeling that we just have to step it up and play better.  We knew Pittsburgh was going to come out really strong and this is our home.

“We don’t like to get pushed around here in Boston,” he said.

These days, that is not happening too often.
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