Take a trip back to the beginning of the 2017-2018 season. Boston Bruins fans were cringing as their team lost nine of their first 15 regular season games. But, after a 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on November 15, a switch flipped as Anton Khudobin took over in net and the Bruins never looked back. This season saw an 18-game point streak by the Bruins, Tuukka Rask’s fall from grace and his rise from the ashes so to speak, and *knock on wood* no serious mid-season slump. All in all, since November the Bruins have been on a tear through the NHL and now, in mid-March, they show no signs of slowing down.
Of their nine games so far in March, a month that will see the Bruins playing 16 games, they’ve won seven games, three of which have been by at least a three-goal margin. Their March 1 8-4 win over the two-time Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins was impressive but, as announcer Jack Edwards put it, their 6-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on March 13 “was a miracle.” Their 3-0 shutout of the dominant Tampa Bay Lightning was the final nail—the Bruins can win the Stanley Cup this year.
Going back to the 6-4 win over Carolina presents plenty of the skills the Bruins will employ on route to the postseason. Throughout the season, fans have seen the Bruins come from behind more times than they can count and this was no different. The Bruins had fallen behind 4-1 by the third period simply because they were playing sloppy hockey. But, a one minute and seven second period of time with less than 10 minutes to go in the third period changed all of that. The Bruins scored five goals in the third period and first-line winger David Pastrnak notched his first career hat trick.
After the game, scoring fiend Brach Marchand said “with this team, it seems like we are never out of a game. [It’s the] character in the room that’s come through all year long. It’s that feeling on the bench when we get a goal that just kind of start to take over [the game].” And taking over is exactly what they have done this season.
Backed up by Rask and a hotter season from back-up goaltender Khudobin than Bruins fans have ever seen, the Bruins have racked up some impressive stats:
- Ranked sixth in the NHL with 232 goals
- Ranked twenty-ninth in goals-against average with only 2.5
- Averaging 3.54 goals per game
Their 45-17-8 record in 70 games boasts 98 points and a plus-56 goal differential which is second in the league only behind the Lightning who have dominated the league all year. Their individual players have also impressed as Marchand is plus-31, captain Zdeno Chara, his defensive partner rookie Charlie McAvoy, and superstar center Patrice Bergeron are all plus-26, and, despite missing 10 games with a fractured foot, Bergeron is still ranked sixth in faceoff win percentage at 56.89 percent.
Since November the Bruins have gone 38-9-4 and have outscored opponents 81-46 in third periods this season. Currently, rookie Jake DeBrusk, Chara, and Bergeron are all still out with injuries, but the Bruins haven’t slowed down. March saw all the aforementioned injuries along with the suspension of Backes and short-term injuries to both Marchand and Rask. The impressive statistics seem never-ending for the Bruins this season even as they’ve battled the injury bug all year.
Trade deadline acquirees Rick Nash, Tommy Wingels, Nick Holden, and Brian Gionta have all played pivotal roles for the Bruins and have fit into the lineup seamlessly and have given the Bruins a boost going into the playoff push. As Marchand said: “When we have that life, it’s dangerous [to our opponents]” and the life has been pumping for a long time with this team.
This team has not only forged chemistry and proven they can score, they’ve also stepped up on the defensive end at the challenge of head coach Bruce Cassidy. Veteran defenseman Torey Krug said “When a coach sees something slipping and brings it to our attention, it’s definitely a challenge… It’s definitely a big challenge from the coaching staff, coming into a tough building, against a top offensive team in the league [Tampa Bay]. We did a great a job and it’s definitely gratifying.”
It’s on the Bruins to keep it up and stay hot as it comes down to the last 12 games of the season. They’re only two points behind Tampa Bay and six behind the league-leading Nashville Predators. This team can go for not only the President’s Trophy, but rather they’ve proven you can never count them out… especially where the Stanley Cup is concerned.