If you want to pump the proverbial brakes on all the love the Bruins have earned thus far, that’s understandable. Yes, it’s early, and this team has yet to endure even a two-game losing streak. The inevitable punch in the nose can happen at any time.

But forgive me. I’m hooked.

While the early views of this team and it’s chance-trading ways were a bit concerning, this team’s ability to win games in every which way is intriguing. While in the past their structure and defense kept them in just about every game, now their offense is capable of coming to the rescue when that structure – now being stretched with a new aggressive approach – fails them from time to time.

It starts on the back end. Hampus Lindholm, on many NHL teams, would be a No. 1 defenseman. And in the absence of Charlie McAvoy, Lindholm has been every inch of that entity. In the Bruins’ thrilling OT victory in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, which improved their record to 9-1, Lindholm had a goal and three assists. He now has 11 points in 10 games.

The possibilities for when McAvoy returns are fascinating. He and Lindholm give the Bruins their best 1-2 punch of dynamic defensemen since perhaps Ray Bourque and Glen Wesley patrolled the blue line in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

When he arrived last year just prior to the trade deadline, Lindholm was paired mostly with McAvoy, and they made for a predictably dominant pair. But the preference here would be to split them up, pretty much guaranteeing that one or the other would be on the ice for at least two-thirds of the game. Then re-create the Terrier Tandem of McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk while playing Lindholm with Brandon Carlo, a duo that still needs work but should ultimately perform well as a de facto second pairing.


Rounding out the top six would be the duo that, up until now, has been the Bruins’ most reliable, Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton. Forbort had to leave Tuesday’s game and did not return, never a great sign. On Wednesday, he was placed on injured reserve, which will keep him out at least a week. But the strong work of these two together goes back to late last season, and it’s a long enough sample size to merit keeping them united whenever Forbort can return.

Another reason to be excited about this team is the blossoming of Linus Ullmark. On most nights, he has been airtight. Tuesday was not one of those nights, which made his performance all the more remarkable. Ullmark was not really the prime culprit on any of the five goals he allowed; he just didn’t come up with timely saves before getting pulled in the second period.

With his team down three goals, most goalies would have mentally checked out of that game. But when Jeremy Swayman was hurt in the third period, Ullmark was forced back into action, and he kept the door shut to allow the Bruins to make their comeback. It was an admirable performance.

Ullmark has grabbed the mantle of No. 1 goalie, playing a little more than most expected. Now, depending on the severity of Swayman’s injury, he no doubt will be called upon to truly be The Guy. Journeyman netminder Keith Kinkaid has been recalled from Providence to replace Swayman.

And Reason To Be Cheerful, Part 3? Coach Jim Montgomery. The early perception of Montgomery was that he was brought in to get more out of the young players that had not developed under Bruce Cassidy. And it’s true that, in contrast to Cassidy’s tell-it-like-it-is style, Montgomery has been more encouraging in his public comments about all his players.

But as it turns out, Montgomery is very much like Cassidy, and Claude Julien before him, and just about every other successful coach. He plays the players that he thinks give him the best chance to win. Jack Studnicka lasted all of seven-plus minutes before it was decided he wouldn’t be able to help this team now. Despite a lot of early praise for Jakub Zboril, the young defenseman coming back from major knee surgery has been scratched three times going into Thursday’s test against the Rangers. Even veteran Craig Smith, currently out because of an upper body injury, has felt the sting of the healthy scratch.

Meanwhile, Montgomery’s four-man attack system has thus far produced the production that team president Cam Neely and GM Don Sweeney felt was missing.

Add all that to a resurgent Nick Foligno anchoring the fourth line, Charlie Coyle doing the same for the third line, and a potent top six we already knew existed, and this team is well worth your attention.

If this is indeed the last hurrah for Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, it promises to be a pretty fun ride.

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