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Level-headed thinking post blowout win will be the key to consistency

October 22, 2011, 2:55 AM ET [ Comments]
Ty Anderson
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You couldn't complain about much on Thursday night in regards to the Boston Bruins, a team with just one victory in their last four heading into play (scoring just five goals over that span), as they absolutely pummeled the first place Toronto Maple Leafs to the tune of 6-2.

But, you should include an asterisk next to that one. For what it's worth, the Leafs came into Boston on the second leg of a back-to-back that saw them down the Winnipeg Jets in a shootout just 24 hours prior. And the Leafs were starting back-up Jonas Gustavsson. You know, the goaltender who entered the contest not playing in an NHL game since Jan. 19, over nine months ago (seriously, Gustavsson could've had a baby over that stretch). A game that he allowed six goals in on just 25 shots. To an offensively inept New York Rangers squad. So, yes, the win had to be taken with a grain (or bowlful) of salt.

"It all depends on what we follow it up with," B's goaltender Tim Thomas said Thursday night in regards to Boston's drubbing becoming a 'statement' game for the Black and Gold. "This game doesn’t mean anything. Actually, a statement game can become more of a statement game in the past than it is immediately right after, because this is just a single game."

Despite scoring 37.5 percent of their total goals accounted for in the newborn 2011-12 season in the victory, Thomas' words regarding the victory rang throughout the B's locker room. "It was a good win," Boston enforcer Shawn Thornton remarked on Thursday night. "Said it a thousand times but we’ll think about it till midnight then start focusing on San Jose."

Shifting their focus towards Saturday's opponent -- the San Jose Sharks -- Boston's ability to bounce back from a blowout win will be tested for the first time in this new season. Posting a 3-2-2 record in 2010-11 following a blowout win (which I decided is a win by four goals or more), the B's outscored their opponents 20 to 19 in games following a big victory, but found themselves shut out twice.

Something that could very well happen with San Jose netminder Antti Niemi in town. With a perfect 3-0-0 record against the Bruins in his relatively brief NHL career, including a 1.95 goals-against-average against the B's, the 28-year-old Niemi comes to Boston for the first time since his 26-save shutout over the club back on Feb. 5 last year.

Granted, the B's could be fortunate enough to face their second back-up in as many games given Niemi's start and victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night, but the ball will without question be in Boston's court regardless of who's in net for the opposition come Saturday night.

"We’ve been hit and miss so far this year as we come up with a good effort. I think right now the biggest challenge is to be able to follow that up Saturday with the same kind of effort," a pleased Claude Julien said following Thursday's win. "I thought the fact that we scored some goals tonight was really important for us, confidence-wise, being able to come up with more than a goal or two. So there were a lot of things that came out of tonight’s game. Again, it’s being able to translate that into consistency, which means next Saturday."

Yet, while the B's are hesitant to rest on the laurels of a well executed victory over the Leafs, was Thursday the blueprint to success for the Black and Gold? Essentially doing away with 'lines' -- juggling individuals from nearly every line besides the fourth line -- Boston saw key contributions from slumping wingers Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic on their new lines, all while putting forth a 43-shot effort against a relatively tight-knit Toronto defense.

"I could have said that Game 2 against Tampa was a blueprint, too," Thomas added, "Even though I don’t think we got a power play goal that game, but just the way we played all over the ice. There’s no perfect blueprint, but this was definitely within the blueprint."

Logjammed with five other Eastern Conference clubs with six points, the Bruins' time to establish separation with their conference foes is upon them, but as Thomas put it: It's up to just them to continue developing the blueprint while the team continues its hunt for consecutive victories for the first time in this young season.

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