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Saturday, October 8, 2011
Bruins pick up where they left off

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Drawing up the blueprint is the easy part. Building the product to a point where it's strong and structurally sound with every component in almost perfectly working order is the challenge.

With two games in the books for the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, including a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night at TD Garden, it didn't take long for the Black and Gold to play the exact type of game it'll need in 2011-2012.

"Yeah, I think so," said Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas. "There were efforts all over the place from top to bottom. This type of game is the game we want to play. It's the game we played during the playoffs where the whole team found ways to chip in every night."

Rich Peverley
Rich Peverley celebrates with teammates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand after scoring one his two goals on Saturday.

Sure, there are 80 games remaining in the season, but this win is significant because it comes on the heels of a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in the season opener Thursday. Tampa's also talented and happens to be the team the Bruins defeated in the Eastern Conference finals in seven games to earn the chance to play for the Cup.

It may have been game No. 2 of 82, but it showed a lot.

The Bruins' Rich Peverley netted a pair of goals on his new line alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Tyler Seguin chipped in a pair of assists, as did Marchand. Defenseman Adam McQuaid added an assist. Thomas finished with 25 saves and played like he did during the playoffs last spring.

The textbook effort consisted of strong defensive play and solid transitions, and the Bruins created a ton of chances offensively. In all three zones Boston showed it wanted to be first on the puck, and there was plenty of physical play.

"That's our identity," said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron, who added an assist. "That's how we get the results and the success when we're playing like that. It's the effort we wanted to bring. We did that for 60 minutes and when we play like that we get the result we want."

Boston produced a total of 42 shots, while Tampa added a total of 22 blocked shots. It's that kind of sustained offensive pressure that the Bruins want to have this season.

Seguin looked comfortable and confident. Similar to how he played on Thursday, he was pursuing the puck when needed and wasn't waiting for it to come to him. He was using his speed and creating chances.

"It's only two games into the season so I'm not going to be impressed with anything yet," Seguin said of his personal play. "Definitely the thing I've been working on is staying consistent. I've been happy with the few battles and I think there's room for improvement."

Even though he missed the season opener because of the flu, McQuaid proved he's even more comfortable this season. Normally he's more of a defensive-minded blueliner but he was jumping into the play and was credited with an assist on a goal that was originally given to him but later changed to Daniel Paille's tally. Still, McQuaid chipped in offensively.

"When you see him supporting the attack it certainly opens people's eyes and it gets the attention of people watching him," Julien said. "We want him to do that more. He's a pretty smart individual and he picks his spots. He doesn't want to lose that identity of being a good shutdown defenseman, but he also wants to help in other areas of the game. He's getting more comfortable."

Thomas was vintage Thomas.

Preseason exhibition games mean nothing and he was off his game against the Flyers in the season opener, but Saturday night was more his style.

Tim Thomas
"Timmy looked more like the Timmy we know," said coach Claude Julien about goalie Tim Thomas after Saturday's win.

"Timmy looked more like the Timmy we know," Julien said. "He looked calm and comfortable in net. He made things look pretty easy, even on the big saves he was challenging well. That's about as close to last year as I've seen Timmy. He certainly played a solid game for us."

Marchand played with his typical rink-rat persona, something that fans in Boston have come to love, making him a cult hero already. He's proved in the first two games that he wants to build off last season.

"That was my goal coming in," he said. "To try to duplicate what I was doing in the playoffs and play the same way. A lot of that is confidence and as long as I keep that up hopefully I'll be able to contribute the same way."

Last season, Marchand and Bergeron were linemates with the now-retired Mark Recchi. It was a successful line, but with the addition of Peverley this line now has a different dynamic -- with speed and potentially more offense.

"No disrespect to Rex, but [Peverley] brought something different to that line," Julien said.

Even the new guys chipped in. Defenseman Joe Corvo and forward Benoit Pouliot were not members of this team a season ago, but it's obvious their transition has been a relatively smooth one.

"Absolutely," Julien said. "Their transition in the dressing room has been great. Their transition on the ice is something that will take more time, and you have to give the opportunity to both those guys. Our GM [Peter Chiarelli] and his group do really well at doing their homework, finding quality people to come in here, and this is the kind of team we want. As [players] say, 'We're a band of brothers' and you don't want somebody coming in who will disrupt that or ruin that. They're well accepted and well liked."

As Julien said after the game, a 1-1 record may not look like much at this point, but the possibility of starting 0-2 at home would not have sat well with the Bruins. Given the week of Stanley Cup ceremonies that the team has been involved in, and the fact the Bruins lost the season opener to a tough opponent, bouncing back with this kind of performance was a good sign.

Boston played like the team everyone saw last spring.

"We played with some emotion," Thomas said. "Against Philly, they certainly didn't stir the pot with us and let us get into the game emotionally, and one of our goals going into tonight's game was to make our own emotion."

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.