There's a reason that police procedurals are among the top-rated shows on TV channels all over the world. It's the same reason that detective novels once sold in their millions and are still among the most popular, or people still care about urban legends, or Bigfoot, or the Bermuda Triangle.
It's also the reason why that, despite the Bruins' loss to Dallas last night bringing a screeching halt to the B's recent excellent run as they ran into an offensive locomotive named Tyler Séguin, the fact that we're still no closer to learning just what this Bruins team actually is this season should not necessarily be a cause for concern.
Mysteries are fun.
The Bruins themselves have certainly been fun to watch at times this season - particularly on their 6-0-1 swing after a nightmarish start to the season had all of New England suddenly wondering whether they should be following the Swiss NLA more closely. Last night against Dallas, though, the Bruins seemed a little more like the team everyone thought they were going to be - a team that often looked a little less of a level than the really good teams in the league.
Right now, the B's sit 16th in the entire NHL, or topping the bottom half. Granted, standings are all but meaningless after ten games as slow starts and unsustainably hot beginnings combine to sometimes give a slightly skewed impression of sucktitude or greatness (the Bruins have their own example of this in the shape of David Krejci, who is shooting at a ridiculously unsustainable shooting percentage right now and will likely have a few barren nights to come - there's also the Herculean scoring feats of Frank Vatrano in the AHL if Boston-area fans are looking for another example).
And that's probably where most people would have put them at the beginning of the season (for many, it's probably better).
The trouble is, we don't know HOW the B's got here, given the amount of statistical anomalies, the amount of games, and also the fact that it's on the back of a 6-0-1 run that was a complete contrast to a terrible opening couple of games. As a Chowder follower asked on Twitter during Friday's win v Florida - is this a bad team playing incredibly well early, or is it a good younger team just starting to break out?
Ironically, the next month or so should give a far better idea as the season grind begins to take its toll. How the Bruins replace Chris Kelly and whether or not a youngster steps up from the AHL (B's fans are clamouring for Frank Vatrano or Alex Khoklachev to be given a chance, along with Vatrano's partner-in-crime Austin Czarnik. If, when and how they make the step up to NHL level could be a big factor on how the Bruins season runs going forward.
Then there's the defence (ah, the defence). So far it's looked better than expected, with Colin Miller in particular skating some impressive outings and seizing his chance well on the top pairing alongside Zdeno Chara. But small sample size means we simply don't know how Miller will continue, whether he'll suffer the rookie yips or become the second coming of Bobby Orr (or, to aim for a target slightly more reachable, playoff Torey Krug) over the rest of the season.
This team still has a whole bunch of unknowns, but at the same time it's shown some strong positives that could be big factors in a good Bruins year. Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes have already built some chemistry and combining with another rookie, Joonas Kemppainen, on Saturday night showed some real potential (though this author has to admit that the prospect of Vatrano-Kemppainen-Khoklachev as a fourth line as mooted by some other Chowder staff today doesn't half sound...well, interesting.). We've already mentioned the strong early play of Colin Miller, too..and the old faithfuls like Bergeron and Marchand don't show any signs of slowing down soon.
It's very obvious that this Bruins team is one in transition, both in players and indeed GMing style. After a rocky start, though, the waters are...if not smooth, at least more settled than they were.
The very fact that this Bruins team has so many unknowns and at least three players who could become NHL breakout forwards (Vatrano, Czarnik, Khoklachev) waiting in the wings adds a level of intrigue to the team that could only grow as the season continues, particularly if the B's play well. The very fact that this team will keep fans guessing means it'll probably keep opposition coaches guessing too, and that is an asset in an NHL where there are rarely any "real" unknowns.
This Bruins team is a real unknown. Early season form has shed no real light on just how good or bad it could be...
And like we said at the beginning, if there's one thing we know about mysteries, it's that they're fun to follow.