Tim Thomas and 5 Other Individual Surprises for the Boston Bruins
As a team, the Boston Bruins have spent the first two months of the 2011-12 season dishing out a few savory surprises and a few unexpected disappointments.
The latter was comprised chiefly―check that, entirely―of an October slate that culminated in a 3-7-0 start, good for last in the conference. Much of the former has come more recently in the form of a subsequent 12-game unbeaten run for all of this month.
This night-and-day log this squad has penned through the first quarter of their schedule has, in part, been a product of some underachieving individuals jutting out above their impressive teammates and vice versa. For nearly the full length of their first 22 outings, a couple of Bruins have repeatedly slumped while a few have continuously exceeded expectations.
Two of the former and four of the latter are highlighted as follows in alphabetical order.
The veteran defender has periodically flaunted some point-based playmaking proficiency, but Corvo has yet to collect a goal of his own through his first 22 outings with the Bruins.
Only once in his NHL career has he taken this long to score his first goal. That would be his rookie year in 2003-04, when he likewise required 22 goal-less games with Los Angeles before he finally hatched that goose egg.
Since then, Corvo has had only one drought longer than this, that being a 25-game lull with the Senators in the latter half of the 2006-07 campaign.
And neither of those previous droughts required as many hacks at the opposing cage to end as this one will. Corvo put 26 straight on net without a goal to start his career and had 41 over his protracted dry spell in Ottawa.
So far this year, he is fifth on the Bruins’ stat sheet with 51 shots on goal, trailing three forwards and fellow rearguard Zdeno Chara. But among all of the regulars, he is in limited company with Dennis Seidenberg as the only Boston skaters still lacking a goal.
After a four-game pointless skid to commence his first full season in Boston, Kelly has accelerated his productivity to the point where he could all but coast to a career year.
The checking-line pivot has required three fewer games this regular season to eclipse his 2011 playoff output of five goals and 13 points, which was startling enough in itself. In addition, Kelly leads the Bruins with a 22.5 shooting percentage, putting nine of his 40 shots on net in the net.
More critical, though, has been Kelly’s timing with some of his nine goals and 16 points. He has had a hand in four equalizers, three go-ahead goals and three game-winners, including each of the last two.
It’s been tougher to detect in recent weeks, but Krejci continues to stick out like a pimple on prom night.
He entered this season having co-led the team in points for each of the previous two years with 52 in 2009-10 and 62 in 2010-11. Before that, he led the Bruins with a plus-37 rating and placed second on their scoring chart in his first full NHL season.
This year, he has had one good pair of games against Toronto and the New York Islanders, amassing two goals and four assists and a plus-four rating in that span. The rest of the time, he has put in 17 appearances and mustered only one goal and three helpers while accruing a minus-eight rating.
Trailing eight of his teammates in the production department and dead last in the plus/minus column, Krejci is on pace to finish with 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points, easily his shallowest output in four years.
Granted, Peverley has been largely rewarded for being the surprisingly prolific Kelly’s right-winger, but this is the ultimate team sport we’re talking about, after all.
Peverley is third on the team with 10 assists and of his 14 total points, eight have come on collaborations with Kelly. As a result, in 20 appearances this season, he has as many goals and seven more helpers than he amassed in 23 games to close out the 2010-11 regular season after he was imported from Atlanta.
And Peverley hardly missed a beat after missing a full week and two games with an injury in the middle of this month. Rather, he simply picked up where he left off upon returning and extended his scoring streak to four games.
The Bruins have certainly had a burgeoning star in the 17 months since they selected Seguin at the 2010 entry draft, but not quite one of Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin proportions.
Could anyone have rightly expected Seguin, who was used sparingly in his skate-whetting rookie year, to equate his rookie output of 11-11-22 in 74 games in a matter of 18 games this year? Could anyone have justly asked him to hit a career-high 12 goals in 20 games?
Well, he has done exactly that anyway. In addition, he leads all Boston forwards with five power-play points and is running away with an NHL-best plus-19 rating.
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The “Tank” has appeared full for the better part of 15 starts, more than two-thirds of the games Boston has already played.
For someone who now eclipses all of his teammates at the age of 37 and the only Bruin who had to play every minute of last year’s 25-game playoff run, Thomas has been the inverse of logic. With a short summer on top of his age and residual drain, he should have endured the worst individual effects of post-Cup hangover.
Instead, since the night the banner hit the ceiling, he has shown the least of it. So much so that, as of Tuesday, he is 11-4-0 with three shutouts, has sole possession of second place on the NHL’s save percentage leader board (.937) and tied for second in terms of goals against average (1.86).
That is merely one percentage point less than the .938 success rate and 0.14 fewer goals per night than what earned Thomas his second Vezina Trophy in three years last spring.