The second month has wrapped up for the Boston Bruins. For the year, Boston stands at 13-8-1 through two months after going 7-5 in the month of November. The boys in the black and gold stand at eighth in the Eastern Conference as of now. The Bruins’ success in the month basically came in the last half of the month. After starting November 0-3, the Bruins have won five in a row and seven of the last nine. Outside of two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins had a pretty tough schedule and managed it well. Quality wins over the New York Islanders, Minnesota Wild, two wins against the Detroit Red Wings and a win against the New York Rangers were highlights of the month. The last two wins, against Detroit and the Rangers, respectively, came in comeback fashion.
The month got off to a crappy start when the Dallas Stars came into Boston and Tyler Seguin put on a laser show against his former team with a hat trick. In the loss, Colin Miller scored his first career NHL goal. Following losses to the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens, the Bruins finally got on track against the Islanders in what might be Tuukka Rask’s best performance of the year. More on him later. After a 1-2 stretch in the next three games, the B’s finally turned it on in the last two weeks of the month.
As previously mentioned, the Bruins are on a five game winning streak. The streak started against the Minnesota Wild, a game in which Loui Eriksson had a hat trick. Two wins against the lowly Leafs brought the streak to three. The Bruins pulled off a thrilling overtime win at Joe Lewis Arena by beating the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Landon Ferraro scored his first goal as a Bruin and shared a very special moment with his father, former NHLer Ray Ferraro. Colin Miller tied the game with less than two minutes left. UMass alum and Massachusetts native Frank Vatrano scored the OT winner. Against King Henrik and the Rangers, the Bruins used some more third period magic to shock the boys in blue. Ryan Spooner scored the game tying goal with under four minutes left on the power play and just 2:03 later in the game, David Krejci scored the game winner to cap off an up and down month for the B’s.
Through two months, David Krejci still leads the Bruins in points with 24. Although Krejci only scored twice during the month, he isn’t much of a goal scorer anyways. He still has shown the usual Krejci patience and leads the team with 15 assists. The player of the month for the Bruins might be Brad Marchand. He suddenly leads the team in goals with 10. In other, less surprising news, Patrice Bergeron continues to be the best player on the team on both ends of the ice. And a congrats to Patrice and his wife Stephanie on welcoming their first child, a baby boy named Zach. May we all pray that he follows his dad’s footsteps and has an amazing career donning the black and gold. Anyways, Zdeno Chara looks good recently and his health has been supreme to the Bruins success the last two weeks. Hopefully the Bruins can get David Pastrnak and Kevan Miller back relatively soon, as both figured to be key components for Boston this season.
The thing that has been the Bruins bread and butter to this point is the power play. The Bruins still have a dominating power play that is operating at a 32% clip, first in the NHL. The B’s put the biscuit in the basket 3.3 times per game, third in the league. A very skilled offensive team, but the Bruins have been anything but dominant on the defensive end.
As was the case in October, the Bruins have been porous defensively. The penalty kill is effective just 75% of the time, good for 27th in the NHL. The B’s allow 2.9 goals per game, 25th in the league. Tuukka’s play in net has been highly criticized, and for good reason. I know I threw him a bone and came to his rescue last month, but through two months he’s still been shaky. He was better in November, but is still allowing 2.94 goals per game. His save percentage is at 89%. Those numbers are anything but desirable, especially for a supposed elite goalie. He’s been outplayed by Jonas Gustavsson, which is bad. Gustavsson is 5-1 and Rask is 8-7-1. If Rask doesn’t start to play the way we know he can, expect Gustavsson to get more starts, and maybe push Tuukka out of the primary goaltender spot.
The Bruins are off to the start that many people expected them to. Still questions on defense but a very potent offensive team. The defense and goaltending has shown signs of improvement over the last two weeks. And with a pretty favorable schedule in the month of December, the Bruins can make up some great in the Atlantic Division and in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins could easily go 9-5 in the month of December. Favorable games against the Edmonton Oilers (twice), Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils could all spell wins for the Bruins. Two key home and home series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators will be crucial, as will a game against the much hated Montreal Canadiens. But the Canadiens have had the Bruins number recently, winning each of the last seven meetings dating back to March of 2014.
Expect more of the same from the Bruins for the rest of the year, the two month period is when every team figures out their identity, but the B’s seem to know their’s already.