As we pass the quarter mark of the NHL's 2008-2009 campaign, the Boston Bruins stand out as the biggest surprise in the East.
Standing tall above the rest, two points ahead of the New York Rangers with two games in hand (and more importantly six points above archrival Canadiens), Claude Julien's fore-checking Killer B's can no longer be overlooked.
Grounded by Tim Thomas' sporadic-sprawl-style net-minding, the Bruins have brought a resurgence of faith to the Hub of Hockey.
And while no one is booking the duck boats for a late spring tickertape parade just yet, there's no denying that the seed of hope has been planted in the minds of all die-hard fans who have suffered through the years of disappointment dating back to before the lockout...of 1994.
Ten games into November and still undefeated in regulation, the Bruins have a reason to be confident in their abilities. Offensive weapons Savard, Sturm, Kessel, Bergeron, and Ryder are assisted by the youth movement on Causeway Street.
The peach-fuzz powerhouse of Lucic, Krejci, and Wheeler can't help but make Bruins fans feel confident about the team's future. The blue-line bruisers, led by Chara, Ward, Wideman, and Ference, have been huge factors in helping the Bruins surrender the least amount of goals against in the league.
Throw in a few sheriffs (Thornton, Hnidy) and veterans (Axelsson, Kobasew), and you have what appears to be a winning formula.
After years of turmoil, trust is finally being reestablished between management and the fans.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli's best (and boldest) move occurred in the 2007 season. He opted to forego a late-season rental of hot-shot Hossa in favor of a team chemistry that rivals any locker room in major sports. And with Vice President Cam Neely overlooking the development of this club, fans have a reason to trust again.
Spoken at a whisper if spoken at all, fans are quietly making their Stanley Cup predictions. Truly all that can be said is that although there may be rough patches, injuries, and doubts, if the Boston Bruins continue to play this style of hockey—with as much control and conviction that the hockey world has witnessed thus far—the Cup drought in Beantown may be coming to an abrupt end.