With a current 16-game point streak of 12-0-4 the Boston
Bruins are suddenly a legitimate contender for the President's Trophy, which
will be handed out to the NHL's top team at the end of the regular season. As
of Jan. 22nd the Bruins were sitting at 62 points with a record of
27-10-8. They were in second place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern
Conference, just three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning with a game in
hand. In fact, the Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights were the only two squads
ahead of the Bruins in the 31-team league with Tampa being the only club to
have a better goal difference than Boston's plus 38.
The last time Boston tasted defeat in regulation time came back on December 14th
when they were edged 5-3 at home by the Washington Capitals. In the meantime,
they've outscored their opponents to the tune of 64-19 during their 16-game
streak. Team-wise, the Bruins have the eighth-best power play in the league
(21.1%), the sixth-best penalty killing (83.5%), the fifth-most goals per game
(3.27) and the second-ranked goals-against average at 2.44 goals-per-game.
However, while it's been a total team effort, there's no denying the club has
been led by the red-hot line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad
They've been getting good secondary-scoring support from Ryan Spooner, David
Backes, David Krejci and Danton Heinen while Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy have
been providing offence from the blue line. Boston has quite a bit of depth and
this enables head coach Bruce Cassidy to roll four solid and effective forward
lines each and every game without worrying about matching lines against the
opposition on a regular basis. The play of goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Anton
Khudobin has been solid if not spectacular and 40-year-old veteran defenceman
and team captain Zdeno Chara has been exceptional at killing penalties and is
still playing well over 20 minutes a game.
But while the veterans are all contributing, this Bruins
team still features up to half a dozen rookies in the lineup each night such as
McAvoy, Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly and Matt Grzelcyk. Things are looking
pretty good for Boston right now, but that could all change once the dog days
of the schedule come around in March when the team has a busy 16 games on the
schedule. It'll be interesting to see how the youngsters handle the workload
once the final playoff push arrives and to see if Pastrnak, Bergeron and
Marchand can keep up their production.
The line's 200-foot success may have taken some fans by surprise considering
that Marchand was the only one of the trio to be sitting in the league's top-25
scorers by Jan. 21st. He had
48 points from 20 goals and 28 assists in 37 games which saw him ranked
17th in the scoring race. But the driving force behind this team may
very well be Bergeron with his timely goals and overall veteran leadership
qualities. He's been as reliable as ever in both ends of the rink and could
very well become the first NHL player to win four Frank Selke Trophies as the
league's top defensive forward. He's currently tied with former Montreal
Canadiens great and Hall of Famer Bob Gainey at four apiece.
With an 18-point lead over the fourth-place team in their division, the current
streak has basically wrapped up a playoff spot for the Bruins unless they
totally collapse in their final 37 games. They might as well shoot for the moon
now though as first place in the league is well withing their grasp.
Labels: Ian Palmer