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Big, bad Bruins

Boston's 14-8-3 record has them sitting seventh in the East with 31 points. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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Boston's 14-8-3 record has them sitting seventh in the East with 31 points. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins are benefiting from employing the NHL’s hottest goalie right now, but there is more to the Black & Gold than Tim Thomas alone.

Granted, Thomas - who made arguably the save of the season on Maple Leafs defenseman Francois Beauchemin Saturday night in Toronto - has given the Bruins a “W” on nights they probably didn’t deserve to win. However, his supporting cast hasn’t left him to do it all on his own.

Right winger Nathan Horton, acquired from Florida in the off-season, leads the Bruins in plus/minus (plus-15); right behind him is Milan Lucic (plus-14). And although most people expect captain Zdeno Chara to play well defensively - and he is, with a plus-12 - defenseman Andrew Ference actually has the best plus/minus of any Bruins defenseman (plus-14).

Lucic also leads the team in game-winning goals (three) and shooting percentage (22.6 percent) despite averaging just 16:07 of ice time per game (fourth-best among Bruins forwards). The 22-year-old, now in his fourth NHL season, is on pace for a 39-goal, 71-point season, which would obliterate his previous personal bests of 17 goals and 42 points.

The Bruins have three home games this week - two against very beatable opponents (Buffalo on Tuesday and the Islanders on Thursday) before a big showdown Saturday against the powerful Philadelphia Flyers. They’ll need all three of Thomas, Horton and Lucic to be on their games to win that one.

THE HOCKEY NEWS POWER RANKINGS
RK.
TEAM
LW
OVERALL
P10
THE SCOOP
1

Detroit Red Wings

1

17-4-3

7-1-2

D-man Brad Stuart third on Wings in ice time (21:46), second in plus-minus (plus-10)

2

Pittsburgh Penguins

5

18-8-2

9-0-1

Crosby not quite a one-man gang, but is playing best hockey of his NHL career

3

Washington Capitals

2

18-8-2

5-4-1

Caps have winnable games against Toronto and Florida before a Saturday/Sunday back-to-back vs. Avalanche, Rangers

4

Philadelphia Flyers

3

17-7-4

5-3-2

Flyers have league’s best 5-on-5 goals-for/against ratio (1.62)

5

Montreal Canadiens

4

17-8-2

6-3-1

Carey Price is Montreal’s MVP thus far, but Tomas Plekanec isn’t far behind

6

Dallas Stars

7

16-8-1

8-1-1

Loui Eriksson on pace for career year in assists, points

7

Vancouver Canucks

8

14-8-3

5-4-1

Nucks’ special teams coming through – power play is second overall at 24.7 percent, while penalty kill is third overall at 88.5

8

Boston Bruins

12

14-8-3

5-3-2

Goalie Tim Thomas a legit candidate for Hart Trophy

9

Tampa Bay Lightning

14

15-9-3

7-2-1

Goaltending becoming major eyesore for high scoring Bolts

10

Los Angeles Kings

10

15-10-0

3-7-0

Blueliner Jack Johnson a minus-8, second only to left winger Kyle Clifford (minus-10) for worst mark on team

11

Phoenix Coyotes

9

13-7-6

7-2-1

Coyotes sixth-worst in league at average shots allowed per game (33.2)

12

Columbus Blue Jackets

6

14-10-1

5-4-1

Jackets reverting to poor form with which they began ‘10-11 season

13

Atlanta Thrashers

18

14-10-3

7-3-0

Next to Thomas, Ondrej Pavelec (.948 save percentage, 1.70 goals-against average) is NHL’s best goalie

14

New York Rangers

16

16-12-1

6-4-0

If Derek Boogaard stays on same points pace, he’ll earn $270,833.33 per point

15

Nashville Predators

20

12-8-5

5-3-2

Injury to No. 1 netminder Pekka Rinne thrusts Anders Lindback back into spotlight

16

San Jose Sharks

15

12-9-4

4-4-2

Patrick Marleau a minus-9 in his past eight games

17

Colorado Avalanche

11

13-10-3

5-3-2

Milan Hejduk, 34, on track to post best points total since career-high 2002-03 campaign

18

St. Louis Blues

13

13-9-4

4-5-1

Halak starting to cool down - just one win in his past five games

19

Chicago Blackhawks

19

15-12-2

7-3-0

Adam Burish, Marty Turco face their former teams when Hawks host Stars Wednesday

20

Anaheim Ducks

23

13-13-3

3-6-1

Todd Marchant a team-worst minus-10

21

Minnesota Wild

17

11-11-4

3-5-2

Center Matt Cullen had 10 points in his first nine games with Wild, but only nine in his next 17

22

Carolina Hurricanes

21

11-12-3

3-4-3

Canes still league’s most futile team at faceoffs (41.3 percent success)

23

Edmonton Oilers

29

10-12-4

6-3-1

Taylor Hall has six goals, eight points in his past nine games

24

Florida Panthers

24

11-14-0

4-6-0

Cats face Avalanche at home, then travel to Washington and Nashville this week

25

Buffalo Sabres

27

11-13-3

6-4-0

Tyler Myers tied with Shaone Morrisonn for team-worst plus/minus (minus-10)

26

Toronto Maple Leafs

26

9-12-4

4-5-1

Only Devils (1.81 goals-for per game) have a more feeble offense than Leafs and Islanders (2.12)

27

Calgary Flames

25

11-14-2

4-4-2

Losing continues to be an option for fading Flames

28

Ottawa Senators

22

12-14-2

3-6-1

Sens averaging just 27.9 shots per game – 27th overall

29

New Jersey Devils

28

8-16-2

4-6-0

Only Isles (0.58) have a worse 5-on-5 goals-for/against ratio than Devils (0.61)

30

New York Islanders

30

5-15-5

1-6-3

No reversal of fortune in sight; only option is to ban more journalists

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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