With another New England Patriots come-from-behind playoff victory on Sunday, most New England sports fans are focused on the Super Bowl. But while Tom Brady and the Patriots are heading to their third Super Bowl in four years, there’s another team in the region that should be drawing eyeballs for their recent dominate play.
After yet another victory over the archrival Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, the Boston Bruins increased their point streak to 16 games. The Bruins have not lost a game in regulation since December 14, collecting a record of 12-0-4 in that stretch. In fact, since November 16 the Bruins have only lost three total games in regulation with a record of 21-3-4.
The Bruins are playing their best hockey since the 2013/14 season when they won the Presidents’ Trophy as the best team in the regular season. During that season they went on a similarly, if not more impressive 15-0-1 run from March 2 to March 30. That season ended unfortunately for the Bruins with a second round, game seven loss to the Canadiens, but a look at both season’s rosters would show you that this season’s team is outperforming the 2013/14 team when it comes to offense from the top two lines.
Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak make up one of the deadliest lines in the NHL today. So far this season they have combined for 21 goals for with only 3 goals against when all three are on the ice together. The dynamic offensive ability of all three players was on display last season, but the pure defensive ability by both Bergeron and Marchand has been especially noticeable this year.
All this success has come despite an onslaught of injuries at the beginning of the season, as well as having to rely heavily on rookie players. David Krejci, David Backes, and Ryan Spooner all missed significant time to injuries at the beginning of the year, with each playing less than 30 games so far. Since their return all three have been among the team’s hottest points scorers, with Spooner sliding in at right wing with Krejci and Jake Debrusk. Backes joins the third line on the right wing with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash. Adam McQuaid has only recently come back from injury, having only played in 9 games this season. These long-term injuries are in addition to short-term injuries that forced the call-up of six different forwards and two different defensemen from Providence in the early months of the season.
Tuukka Rask bounced back from a bad start to be named as the NHL’s first star in December. Rask was 9-0-1 in December with a save percentage of .955 and two shutouts. Both Rask and backup Anton Khudobin have been stellar in net this season.
Incredible play from rookies Heinen, Debrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, and, of course, Charlie McAvoy have to be mentioned. McAvoy has played out of this world for a rookie defenseman. Averaging 22:49 in ice time per game, McAvoy is only second on the team to Zdeno Chara’s 23:26 and leads the next rookie in ice time by over four minutes per game.
The Bruins will look to continue their point streak this week as they face the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday and the Ottawa Senators on Thursday before the All-Star break this weekend. Boston sits second place in the Atlantic with 62 points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning with 65, but have one game in hand.