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Bruins experiencing historic 'Stanley Cup hangover'

by John Kreiser
It seems like the only words heard more often in October than "Happy Halloween" are "Stanley Cup hangover." General managers downplay the concept, coaches try to ignore it and players dismiss it.

But is there really a Stanley Cup hangover? The Boston Bruins certainly are playing like they have one. The Bruins lost for the sixth time in their first nine games when they were beaten 2-1 at home by Montreal on Thursday, dropping them to the bottom of the Eastern Conference.


Here are some facts and figures from Thursday's wild 9-8 shootout between the Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers, the highest scoring NHL game in 15 years:

* The 17 total goals are the most scored in a game the San Jose Sharks (10) and Pittsburgh Penguins (8) combined for 18 goals Jan. 13, 1996.

* The Flyers became the first team since those Pens to score eight goals in a game and lose.

* The 17 goals were scored by 15 different players. Only the Flyers' Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk scored more than one.

* Winnipeg had nine different goal-scorers, the first time that's happened since Pittsburgh had nine different players score goals in a 9-5 win against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 13, 1990.

* Entering the game, Winnipeg had scored just 17 goals in its first eight games.

* The Flyers had given up nine goals in their first five games.

* The nine goals matched a record for any NHL team from Winnipeg.

* It's the fourth time the Flyers have been involved in a game that featured 17 goals and didn't win. It's also the first time the Flyers scored eight goals in a game and lost.

* Each team scored five straight goals -- Winnipeg in a 14:38 span from 10:01 of the first period to 4:39 of the second; Philadelphia in an 8:51 span from 14:11 of the second to 3:02 of the third.

* Of the 36 skaters to play in Thursday's game, 32 had at least one shot; only Winnipeg's Tim Stapleton, Chris Thorburn and Blake Wheeler, and Philadelphia's Jody Shelley failed to put a puck on net. Van Riemsdyk had a game-high nine shots.

* Fifteen of 18 Winnipeg skaters had at least one point; 13 of 18 Philadelphia skaters got on the score sheet.

* The teams combined for 127 attempts at putting the puck on the net. Winnipeg had 25 shots, 11 that were blocked and seven missed shots; Philadelphia had 48 shots, 19 that were blocked and 17 missed shots.
After five games, the Bruins were just 2-3-0 -- the first defending champ since the 2007 Anaheim Ducks to be under .500 after five games. Of the 17 champions crowned since the current playoff format was adopted in 1994, the Bruins are just the fifth to average less than a point a game through five games; the New York Rangers, coming off their Stanley Cup in 1994, had the worst debut -- they were 1-4-0 in a season that was delayed until January by a work stoppage. Though none of the 17 teams won each of its first five games (Detroit went 4-0-1 in 1997), eight had at least three wins.

Widen the parameters to 10 games and there's a lot less "hangover" -- except in Boston.

Of the 17 defending champs since 1994, the Bruins (3-6-0) already are assured of having the worst record through 10 games -- and they don't reach the 10-game mark until Saturday's visit to Montreal (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, CBC, RDS). Prior to this season, only two champs -- the 1994 Rangers and 2007 Ducks -- had sub-.500 records after 10 games; both went 4-5-1. The 2006 Carolina Hurricanes were 4-4-2; every other team had more than a point a game and 11 of the 16 took home at least 60 percent of the available points, with the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins leading the way at 9-1-0.

The six points are the fewest by the Bruins at this point of the season since they were winless through their first nine games in 1999-2000 on their way to finishing last in the Northeast Division. The biggest reason -- then and now -- is lack of scoring. Boston has just 19 non-shootout goals this season and hasn't scored more than two goals in any of its six losses.

That's enough to give a headache to any team.

Yes, you can score eight and lose! -- Don't believe us? Ask the Philadelphia Flyers, who became the first team in 15 years to do it.

The Flyers put eight pucks past two Winnipeg goaltenders Thursday, but left the Wells Fargo Center with nothing to show for it when Winnipeg's Andrew Ladd scored with 1:06 left in the third period to give the Jets a 9-8 victory.

The 17 goals were the most in an NHL game since San Jose won 10-8 in Pittsburgh on Jan. 13, 1996 -- those Penguins were the last team to score eight and lose. The Jets got one goal from each of nine players, the first time that's happened since Dec. 13, 1990, when Pittsburgh beat New Jersey 9-5 and nine Penguins scored.


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The nine goals allowed Thursday were just one less than the Flyers surrendered while going 4-0-1 in their first five games. The nine goals scored by the Jets matched the franchise single-game record and came out of nowhere -- Winnipeg had scored just 17 in its first eight games.

What home-ice edge? -- The New York Rangers became the last team to play its home opener when they took the ice against Toronto on Thursday at the remodeled Madison Square Garden. Not surprisingly, they lost.

The Rangers' 4-2 loss left both home teams and visitors with 15 wins and a 15-14-1 record in the 30 home openers this season. The only division to have success in its home openers was the Pacific, which went 5-0-0. Each of the others won just two of five.

Low tide on the Island -- For a team with a passel of talented young forwards, the New York Islanders' offense is off to a slow start.

The Islanders are 3-4-1 after Thursday's 3-2 shootout loss at Pittsburgh -- but more troubling is the fact that they've scored just 16 goals, just one more than the fewest the franchise has scored after eight games. In 1973-74, the Isles managed just 15 while starting 1-3-4 under new coach Al Arbour on the way to a last-place finish.

This year's numbers would be a lot worse if it weren't for John Tavares, who has scored 6 goals and assisted on four others.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner -- Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson entered the 2011-12 season with 2 game-deciding goals in shootouts, but none in regulation or overtime. He's wasted little time changing that.

Johnson got his first NHL game-winning goal on opening day, scoring in overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers in Stockholm. He since has added an OT winner against Philadelphia and the only goal of the game in the Kings' 1-0 win against Dallas last Saturday -- meaning he's gone from not having scored a game-winning goal to sharing the League lead in winners with Washington's Marcus Johansson.
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