The Boston Bruins
didn't have a perfect November, but they came about as close as a team can without pulling it off.
A 3-2 loss at home to the Detroit Red Wings
on Friday was the only blemish on the otherwise flawless face of the Bruins' past 30 days. But it was a shootout loss with backup goaltender Tuukka Rask
coming up short in the unenviable task of stopping Pavel Datsyuk
in the 1-on-1 competition.
That doesn't count, does it?
A loss in the shootout is still a loss, but it shouldn't diminish what was a historic 12-0-1 month for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Bruins left October with a 3-7-0 record, facing incessant questions about a hangover from last season's high of winning it all. They sat in 29th place in the NHL standings, one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets
. The fire was gone, the passion sporadic at best and the drive that carried them through four rounds of mostly grueling hockey was nowhere to be seen.
It didn't show up right away once the calendar turned to November. Through 20 minutes, the Bruins were trailing the Ottawa Senators
2-1 on home ice despite a strong first period. The champs didn't take their foot off the gas, however, as they rallied to win 5-3 as they outshot the Senators 41-26 to set the tone for the rest of the month.
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"I thought for the most part that was the most consistent effort that we've had so far this year," said forward Chris Kelly
, who like many of his teammates, had one of the best months of his career.
Kelly's 7 goals and 11 points were his best totals in any month during his five-plus seasons in the NHL. Some other November statistical highlights for the Bruins include:
* Tim Thomas
went 9-0-0 with a 1.76 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.
* Tyler Seguin
had 8 goals in 13 games. He had 15 goals in 84 games before November.
* Zdeno Chara
had 4 goals and 10 assists and was plus-14.
* Brad Marchand
had 7 goals and 7 assists.
had 7 goals and 4 assists, but his biggest impact in November was when he made a big impact in a game against the Buffalo Sabres
With the Bruins trailing the Sabres 1-0, Lucic was in a race for the puck with goaltender Ryan Miller
, who skated far from his crease to play the puck that was traveling at too great a speed for Lucic to reach it. Long after Miller played the puck, Lucic skated right through Miller, knocking him to the ice. It set off a war of words between the teams and not much else, as no one on the Sabres was willing to challenge the 6-foot-3, 228-pound hulk of a human.
The Bruins are at their best when they're bullies, and that two-minute charging penalty to Lucic gave the team a spark. They scored six consecutive goals and won their fifth straight game to continue their march toward near perfection.
"It really gave us a lot of emotion and energy," Marchand said to NESN.com at the time. "We seemed to play a lot better after that and the fans really ate it up and really got into the game after that. It was definitely the turning point for our team."
The speed, the toughness and the talent all returned after taking a hiatus in October. It resulted in the Bruins' first month without a regulation loss since January 1969 when they went 10-0-4. The Bruins went from the bottom of the standings to the top of the Northeast Division with 31 points, one fewer than East-leading Pittsburgh and two fewer than NHL-leading Minnesota. The Bruins, however, have played two fewer games than those teams.
The dominance was so overwhelming that they only trailed for 139 minutes and 18 seconds during the 795 minutes of hockey they played in November. To put that in perspective, the Anaheim Ducks
went 2-8-3 in November and trailed for a whopping 426:56 out of 792:18.
The Bruins were at their best during the third period. They outscored the opposition 24-6 over the final 20 minutes of regulation during November.
"I think it was a pretty good month," said forward David Krejci
, who may have benefited the most from the November run, signing a three-year, $15.75 million contract Thursday morning. "We were playing some great hockey and we were having so much fun off the ice. It was a pretty good experience.
"But the season's long, we've got about 60 games left. It's going to be a battle. We've got to forget what happened and get ready for the future."
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo