The Boston Bruins have won five consecutive games and they seem to have a winning mix that’s working very well over the past couple of weeks. The Bruins defeated the New York Rangers 4-3 on Friday afternoon in front of a National TV audience. The Bruins trailed by a goal and then scored twice in the closing minutes to win what may have been the most exciting Bruins games in the past two seasons. This game had a playoff feel and the Bruins stepped up when it mattered most. The game featured strong skating, physical play, and plenty of scoring chances. There haven’t been a lot of games that have had this type of feel since the 2013-14 season. At 13-8-1, the Bruins currently are third in the Atlantic Division with 27 points. They’re right in the playoff mix which is exactly where they were hoping to be at this point in the year.
Let’s take a look at the main reasons for the Bruins strong play recently.
Strong Defense and Goaltending
Over the past five games, the Bruins have allowed just ten goals. Their defense has been tightened up a bit with the return of Dennis Seidenberg. In addition, Zdeno Chara has been playing more like the defenseman that opponents fear and have to plan around. While Chara and Seidenberg are both past their prime years with Chara at 38 years old and Seidenberg at 34 years old, they still have a strong defensive presence. When they are both healthy, the Bruins are a different team. The Bruins have also received solid contributions from Torey Krug, Colin Miller, Adam McQuaid, and Zach Trotman. Aside from their two staples on defense and McQuaid, the rest of the group needed to be more physical and they have done just that in recent games.
The Bruins goaltending has been outstanding over the past five games. Tuukka Rask has looked closer to his elite self and Jonas Gustavsson has played very well as the Bruins backup. On the season, Rask has been very shaky as he isn’t even in the league’s top 30 in Goals Against Average and Save Percentage. His last three games during the recent streak have been very good. He had a shutout against Toronto on 11/21 with 22 saves. He then had a 39 save performance in a 4-3 win over the Maple Leafs two days later. Gustavsson stole the game last Wednesday Night against Detroit. The Bruins had no business winning that game. He made 32 saves in a 3-2 overtime win. Rask did not play great in the win over the Rangers on Friday, but he kept the Bruins in the game and gave them an opportunity for a great comeback win.
Wait a minute? The Boston Bruins an elite offense? These two things normally don’t match up. The reality is that the offense has been very strong throughout this season. The Bruins rank third in the NHL at 3.3 goals per game. In addition, they have the top power play in the NHL at 32.4%. This was a team that, even in their peak years, struggled offensively and especially on the power play. David Krejci is playing better than he ever has in the regular season. He certainly played great in the 2011 and 2013 playoffs, but he has never really taken his game to the next level in any season end to end. That may change this year. Krejci is currently 10th in the NHL in scoring with 24 points in 22 games. Patrice Bergeron, best known for his outstanding all around play, has also taken his game to another level offensively. Bergeron has 21 points in 22 games. Loui Eriksson is having his best season in his three years with the Bruins. He has 20 points in 22 games. Brad Marchand has also contributed with 16 points. The Bruins actually have 11 total players with 10+ points. This is a very well balanced attack with multiple players consistently contributing.
Overall, the Bruins still have a lot of question marks.
Can Chara and Seidenberg hold up for the entire season?
Will the young defensemen including Colin Miller step up?
Will Tuukka Rask regain his 2013 Vezina Trophy form?
Can the offense maintain this pace including the top power play in the league?
The good news here is that the team is playing very well there’s a vision here that the team could contend in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They have the goaltender that can carry a team. They have a strong defensive core when their top two players are healthy. They have a surprisingly talented offense.
The Bruins have a winning formula which could be very successful in April and May. Bruins fans could be in for a fun ride this spring!