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Bruins showing no signs of Cup Final loss hangover

Pastrnak, Marchand have Boston rolling in early part of season after dropping Game 7 to Blues

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Less than five months have gone by, months that could have felt like an eternity or like a snap of the fingers. Less than five months ago, the Boston Bruins were skating off the TD Garden ice after a Game 7 loss that could have ranked as the most devastating of their careers -- if a chunk of them hadn't been through it all before.

Which is perhaps why the Bruins were so well suited to shake off the Stanley Cup Final loss to the St. Louis Blues, why they have come back as strong -- or stronger -- than ever in a blazing return to a new NHL season.

Five weeks into the 2019-2020 season, the Bruins have the highest point percentage (.800) in the NHL, boasting the top goal-scorer (15) and point-scorer (30) in David Pastrnak, the fourth-best goalie by save percentage (.936) in Tuukka Rask, and a top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Pastrnak that has 74 points (32 goals, 42 assists) in 15 games.

They are everything they could have hoped to be - with no hangover in sight.

That might be because they found a way to shelve last season, to keep the past in the past and the future in their thoughts.

"We just kind of talked about it," Marchand said. "The season ends and you just leave. So I think we just kind of opened up to one another. We did a couple other things -- but just realized that we're on to a new year. We still have a really good opportunity. We still have a really good team and we want to make the most of it.

"We're not going to sit back and look at last year and expect to have a good year this year because of that."

Video: PIT@BOS: Marchand's shot goes in off post, Jarry

It was early in training camp. The Bruins -- almost all of whom returned from last season -- got together as a group and, as Marchand put it, "talked it out."

"I think that we started the training camp with a certain mindset and we cleared some air early on about some possible thoughts or some possible - if you want to call it hangovers from the disappointment and we just put it behind us," captain Zdeno Chara said.

They knew there was a chance to be special.

They didn't want to waste it.

And they haven't.

Not only do they have the leading scorer in the NHL, they also have the second-leading scorer in Marchand, who has 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists).

The Bruins have outscored their opponents 56-35 and trail only the Washington Capitals and the St. Louis Blues by one point for the League lead in the standings while having one game in hand on Washington and two on St. Louis. They are 8-1-2 in their past 11 games heading into their game against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesar's Arena on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, SNE, SNO, TVAS, FS-D, NESN, NHL.TV).

"I think when teams dwell on that, they allow it to creep in the room," Marchand said of the Game 7 loss. "We weren't focused on that, even the little bit it was talked about. It's not something we really were concerned about. Because we have a really good team and we know that."

There's a confidence there. An understanding.

Perhaps that's because the Bruins have already been in this situation.

Six members of this season's Bruins (Marchand, Chara, Bergeron, Rask, David Krejci, and Torey Krug) were on the Bruins team that lost the 2013 Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks.

They lived through that disappointment and came back and won the Presidents' Trophy the following season - only to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Second Round.

Video: BOS@MTL: Pastrnak knots the score with one-time PPG

That would not nearly be good enough for this team. Not in the players' minds.

But having been through the ups and downs, the joys and devastation together has helped in this go-round. Among the players who have played more than one game this season, only Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm are new. That's tremendous roster stability.

"I think maybe it's a little easier having our whole group back pretty much, where we can rely on each other and we already have chemistry," Marchand said. "We didn't have to try to find it again."

It helps, too, as coach Bruce Cassidy tries to find extra days off, extra time to rest, in the early part of the season. He does not want to overburden a group that played deep into June and which compounded its short offseason with the knowledge of how hard it had worked only to end up with the same result as 29 other also-rans.

"I still think the fatigue part, the long season, may catch up to us," Cassidy said. "I just think it might be later as the wear and tear of your body starts happening in this season. So that's how we approached it. We talked about giving them a few more days off than we typically would."

Video: OTT@BOS: Pastrnak sets up Bergeron in front

But, because they have returned the bulk of the team, "we're on the same page for the most part," he said.

The same page on the ice, yes. Also the same page in terms of their goal, in terms of making good on the ultimate dream of last season.

There's still a Cup to win.

"That's the one thing about our group that makes us really good is that we just connect so well on and off the ice that we're able to have those discussions that maybe other teams aren't able to have," Marchand said. "We're able to rely and lean on each other when maybe we're not in the best spot and we always come out on the high end. It makes us better. It makes us stronger as a group. I think that's showing right now."

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