The Bruins Are On Fire
By Patrick Hoffman
Coming into the season, no one quite knew what to expect when it came to the Boston Bruins.
After finishing strong last season under new head coach Bruce Cassidy, the team fizzled out in the postseason in the first round in six games to the Ottawa Senators. The team did not look great and also were extremely inconsistent when they needed to be the opposite at the most important time of the year.
The Bruins then got off to a slow start this season. The team struggled at both ends of the ice and there was even somewhat of a goaltending controversy between incumbent starter Tuukka Rask and back-up Anton Khudobin.
Fast forward to now (January 3, 2018) and everything is just peachy in Beantown. In fact, things are so good with the Bruins right now that they look like they could be playoff contenders come springtime.
As of this writing (January 3, 2018), the team is second in the Atlantic Division with 50 points, just 10 points behind the Atlantic Division and league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. The club is also ninth in the entire league at 22-10-6.
So, why the turnaround? For starters, the play of Rask has been absolutely remarkable.
Rask, the first star of the month of December, is currently 14-8-03 with a 2.09 goals against average, a .925 save percentage, and two shutouts. In the month of December alone, the 30-year-old Finnish netminder won nine games (tied for the league lead), picked-up two shutouts and led the league with a 1.22 goals against average and a .955 save percentage.
Rask's strong play between the pipes has spread throughout the lineup as other players are coming up big for their hockey club. Because Rask has found consistency between the pipes, it has allowed the guys in front of him to go out and play their game with confidence.
Guys like David Pastrnak (15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points), Brad Marchand (16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points), Danton Heinen (10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points), and Patrice Bergeron (12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points) have all played well. Their strong play up front has made the Bruins more dangerous offensively and has also put them back in contention for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The team has also performed well on special teams this season, The club is eighth in the league on the power play (20.6 percent) and third in the league on the penalty kill.
When you put all of these things together, you have a well-oiled machine that is tough to play against, tough to score against, and tough to beat. Let's see how they do the rest of the way.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.