by The Cowl Editor on January 25, 2018
by Jeremy Perrigo ’18
In a National Hockey League season full of feel-good stories and teams that have played above expectations, the Boston Bruins have made a name for themselves once again as one of the league’s best.
In 46 games, Boston has accumulated a record of 28-10-8 and sits in third place overall. The Bruins have gotten at least a point in their past 17 games (13-0-4) and won their most recent match up last Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils by a score of 3-2.
The team’s success cannot be attributed to just a handful of players. Up and down the lineup, the Bruins have received strong play from nearly every single forward, defenseman, and goaltender on their roster.
Brad Marchand leads the team in points with 50 (21G, 29A) while linemates David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron follow closely behind with 45 (20G, 25A) and 40 (20G, 20A) points, respectively.
Rookie forward Danton Heinen has been a pleasant surprise for Boston. He sits at fourth on the team in points with 32 (10G, 22A) and plays alongside veteran David Backes and 28-year-old Riley Nash. While the trio acts as a third line, they have had few difficulties providing scoring for the team in timely situations. The line has combined for 41 points during the team’s 17-game hot streak.
Boston’s fourth line, which is centered by former Miami University of Ohio forward Sean Kuraly, has also seen success this year. Kuraly is flanked on either side by Providence College alumni: Noel Acciari ’16 on the right and Tim Schaller ’13 on the left. This line is less known for its scoring, though it does have 26 points this season and more known for its ability to provide depth and stability. This line also gives the top lines the ability to catch their breath while not becoming a liability for the team defensively.
On the back end, Boston has seen a rejuvenated Zdeno Chara lead a young defensive core to success early on in the regular season. Rookie Charlie McAvoy has stepped in and become everything the Bruins have expected him to be and more. The former Boston University star has found himself right at home on the right side of Chara.
The veteran’s defensive style has allowed McAvoy to take advantage of his offensive tendencies. This stability has also permitted McAvoy to work through growing pains that come with jumping into the NHL at only 19 (now 20) years of age.
Unfortunately, the team announcd Monday that McAvoy has undergone a procedure to “treat an abnormal heart rhythm,” and the expected time of recovery is two weeks. McAvoy has 25 points (5G, 20A) in 45 games and his absence on the blue line will undoubtedly be noticed.
Perhaps no other position has received more attention for the Bruins this season than their goaltending. To start off the season, Boston suffered a variety of injuries to key players such as Bergeron, Marchand, Backes, Acciari, Ryan Spooner, and David Krejci, and that is just to name a few. This created struggles for the team early on both offensive and defensively. Defensively the team played poorly at times in front of their own net, and often players were unable to clear out loose pucks, resulting in bad goals.
When bad goals start to go in on a regular basis, the goaltenders are typically the first players to blame, whether that be with or without actual fault.
This was the case for the Bruins early on in November during a California road trip where backup Anton Khudobin temporarily won the net from starting goaltender Tuukka Rask after a poor performance against the Anaheim Ducks.
Khudobin won four consecutive games before eventually forfeiting the net back to Rask. After a loss to Edmonton in his return, Rask has posted a record of 15-0-2 with a goals against average (GAA) of 2.16 and save percentage of .923.
Overall, the team has seen more success over 46 games than most would have predicted. Fans look to see how Boston adjusts without McAvoy in the lineup. If the Bruins are as good a team as their play over the last month and a half has indicated, they should be able to find a way to forge onward until his return.