Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand returned from offseason surgery on his hips nearly a month earlier than expected, scoring two goals and adding an assist in his season debut on Thursday. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

This might just be a fun winter after all in Boston.

We weren’t sure it was going to be this way. Just a week ago the New England Patriots were embarrassed on Monday Night Football, losing to the lowly Chicago Bears in the midst of a self-created quarterback controversy.

Earlier, the Boston Celtics were reeling when they opened preseason camp, staggered by the year-long suspension of coach Ime Udoka and answering questions about the team’s potential state of disarray.

And the Boston Bruins began with several key players on the injured list. The narrative surrounding the Bruins was that the best they could hope for was to tread water until players like Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk returned.

They’ve done more than tread water. They’ve won eight of their first nine games, the best start in the history of the franchise. First-year coach Jim Montgomery has unlocked his team’s scoring potential, with the Bruins averaging more than four goals a game.

That high-octane offense got an unexpected spark last week when Marchand returned nearly a month earlier than expected. Marchand didn’t wait long to make an impact, scoring two goals and adding an assist in his first appearance of the year on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings.


The Bruins played again the next night, on the road against the Blue Jackets. Marchand isn’t ready for back-to-back games but it didn’t matter. Without him the Bruins beat Columbus 4-0 and has the best record in the NHL.

On the hardwood, the Celtics haven’t been quite as dominant, but Sunday night’s win over the Washington Wizards reminded us what they are capable of. Boston has the talent and the offense to once again be the best team in the Eastern Conference. Sunday they reminded us, and maybe themselves, that you sometimes have to win games with defense. It’s something interim coach Joe Mazzulla has been stressing from the start.

The NBA season is a long, grinding journey. Great teams find ways to win even when their best players aren’t posting triple-doubles. If the Celtics can be more consistent stopping other teams they could be great again.

No one is calling the Patriots great. Right now we’ll take good enough. And the Patriots were just good enough to beat the New York Jets for the 13th consecutive time Sunday, in the Meadowlands. Mac Jones started at quarterback and played the whole game.

Plenty of New England fans wanted Jones gone in the second quarter after he threw a pick-six that was brought back on a roughing the passer call. But when the game was over the Patriots were back to .500, and feeling a lot better about their second-year quarterback than the Jets are feeling about Zach Wilson. Wilson’s three-interception meltdown handed the Pats the game.

“I had some boneheaded plays,” Wilson told reporters after the game.

You think?

It’s the same as it ever was in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and in Foxborough things were feeling a bit more normal on Monday. That, along with hot starts for the Bruins and Celtics, has Boston sports fans in an unexpectedly good mood as we turn the calendar to November and start to think about the winter ahead.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN.

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