All through the preseason, Bruins fans seemed to be focused on what was perceived to be a rebuild. So far, 2017 is proving to be anything but that.
The Boston Bruins have officially turned the expectations for this season around. The future prospects had been called up, and very few believed that they could produce immediately at the NHL level.
I was immediately puzzled by the depressing outlook many had for this Bruins season. This is the first time in several years the Bruins were loaded with young talent. Watching prospects develop and blossom is a rewarding experience as a hockey fan. This is exactly what B’s fans have been treated to in 2017-2018.
— Jay Kenney (@JayTKenney) September 25, 2017
These young guns have not disappointed. Six of the top ten scorers on the Black and Gold are under 25. This group includes David Pastrnak, Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, Riley Nash, and Anders Bjork.
JAKE DEBRUSK SNIPES ONE HOME AND POPS THE BOTTLE OUT OF THE HOLDER, 1-0 BRUINS! pic.twitter.com/MoZ1Sw5t2x
— Hockey Daily (@HockeyDaily365) December 20, 2017
The top line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak has already combined for 84 points through 34 games. They have often played like the top line in the entire league, unstoppable at times during the season.
BRAD MARCHAND IN OVERTIME! BRUINS COMEBACK AND WIN! pic.twitter.com/Xcf7pBw2TB
— Hockey Daily (@HockeyDaily365) December 14, 2017
But what about the much maligned defense so many have griped about in previous seasons? They’ve been pretty damn good too. Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy have showed impressive chemistry throughout the season. Big Z has had the opportunity to groom one of the best young defensemen in the NHL. Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo have proved to be a formidable second pairing, with a nice dash of offensive play added in by 47. Kevan Miller has stepped up to be a physical, smart defenseman who is very responsible in his own zone. He also brings a sense of toughness that has been missing due to Adam McQuaid’s injury. Matt Grzelcyk has even blossomed as an NHL defenseman for the time being. He may be bumped out in favor of McQuaid when he returns from injury.
— Jay Kenney (@JayTKenney) December 22, 2017
Bottom line: this defensive core is far better than anyone gave them credit to be. A fine mix of veterans and young players, some who promise to be among the best in the NHL. Just two years ago, the defensive group consisted of players like Tommy Cross, Matt Irwin, Joe Morrow, Colin Miller, and John-Michael Liles.
To say the group has improved, would be an understatement.
That brings us to goaltending. It seems we are finally past the asinine idea of trading Tuukka Rask. It doesn’t matter how much his salary cap hits. Tuukka has been an absolute stud after struggling during early portions of the season. Lets not forget about the rash of injuries that the team suffered during Rask’s struggles.
Khudobin has been excellent at times during this season. He is an excellent backup goaltender, but nothing more than that. A second goaltender is a valuable asset to any team pushing toward the playoffs, as the Bruins appear to be doing at this time.
Scoring? Check. Powerplay Unit Success? Check. Defensive Prowess? Check. Strong Goaltending? Check.
It’s time to take the Boston Bruins seriously. As long as this team stays healthy, they will do nothing but get better.
Here are some statistics that Bruins fans would find to be interesting:
- The Bruins have gone 13-3-1 over the last six weeks and rocketed up to third place in the Atlantic Division with games in hand on every other team.
- The Bruins are 38-18-6 under Cassidy’s watch. Over an 82-game season, that projects to 108 points.
- Rask is 7-0-1 over his last nine games. He has allowed only 13 goals in these nine appearances. During this stretch, the Bruins played the top scoring team in the NHL, top scoring team in the Western Conference, and five currently playoff eligible teams.
- The Bruins are fifth overall defensively in terms of scoring, allowing only 2.6 goals per game.
- Charlie McAvoy is very much in the mix to win the Calder Trophy. He leads the rookies in ice time by a mile. He is on pace for 50 points in his rookie season.
- Both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak are currently on pace for forty goal seasons, which is absolutely ridiculous.