Mid-Season Review: Boston Bruin's Can't Stop Won't Stop
So after 46 games played and currently riding a 17 game point streak the Bruins are sitting 2nd in the Atlantic division and with 3 games in hand, are sitting pretty in fourth in the NHL. They’re also are currently the team with the lowest number of regulation loses in the NHL, and who would of thought they’d be here after a bit of a stumble at the start of the season. With only a few more games to play before heading into the All Star break here’s a look at a few of the reason that the Bruins have pushed themselves into the contender conversation.
A Healthy Lineup is a Good Lineup and Creates Depth
The Bruins had to deal with some injuries to key players like Ryan Spooner, David Krejci, David Backes, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand early on in the season. Unfortunately a lot of those injuries overlapped and required the team who was already “playing the kids” to have to shuffle and move a lot of pieces around. It forced some of the players to have to move up in the line up where they were likely not entirely comfortable.. When Jordan Szwarz is your starting 2nd line center you know you’re in some trouble and I think this cost the Bruins some points early on in the season that may have been able to put in the bank. They struggled a bit as expected and didn’t get all the points they should have, but then as the regular cast started to come back you could see the confidence started to rise. Everyone started to get slotted back where they should have been all along and that allowed Bruce Cassidy to create balance throughout the 4 lines. With everyone being healthy and on the right lines they have had the chance to develop some chemistry together, and the B’s are enjoying the success of the new age merlot line and one of the better 3rd lines in the NHL with Nash, Heinen and Backes. This has created a level depth that the Bruins lineup has been missing the last couple season to help make the long drive to the post season. So here’s to hoping they can stay healthy for the remainder of the season and hopefully in to the playoffs.
The Two Guys Between the Pipes
Anton Khudobin who struggled mightily last season has done a complete 180 and has won some big games for the B’s this season. He was doing so well at one point there was some speculation of a goalie controversy and I think that’s the kick Rask needed. Rask’s numbers at the start of the season could easily be described as a roller coaster but now he’s leveled out and putting up some incredible numbers. Rask is now on a personal 16 game point streak and if he can continue this he could certainly put himself in the middle of the Vezna conversation. He also helped the B’s get 6 out of 6 points against the Habs who usually have his number, so he’s managed to start beating some of his old demons from seasons past and one can only hope this will give Rask the confidence needed to take this team on a deep playoff run. So as long as Khudobin continues to do his part and Rask stays sharp they’ll give the Bruins a chance to win every night.
You don’t go a 17 game team point streak without some heavy lifting from your top unit. This unit has been out of this world and of course they’ve been led by the play and leadership of Patrice Bergeron. Not only do they dominate the statistics categories at 5 on 5 but they pass the good old eye test as well. There’s no shortcuts with this line, they play a 200 foot game, they aren’t afraid to get physical and aren’t afraid to sacrifice the body to make a play. This is a huge benefit to young guy like David Pastrnak as he is learning the tricks of the trade from a 4 time Selke winner, and a super pest turned all star. They haven’t been together the whole season but they’re put together when the team needs a boost and every time they hit the ice good things happen. There’s not a situation in the game where they can’t be deployed which I think makes the chemistry even stronger among these three. Knowing they can be sent out to protect a lead or when you’re down a goal is a testament to how much confidence the coaches have in these guys and that’s why they have been a huge piece of the Bruins recent success.
The Bruins have certainly gotten themselves into a good position in the standing being a handful of points behind Tampa and creating a bit of cushion over 3rd place Toronto. There’s still a lot of racetrack left in the season and the B’s need to keep up the dominance to avoid sliding out of the top 3 in the Atlantic and potentially get a more favourable 1st round playoff matchup.