As things currently stand, the Bruins are one of the best teams in the NHL. One has to look no further than their 20-3-6 record heading into tonight’s game against the Colorado Avalanche to see that. The Bruins have also won in several different ways, with high scoring outputs and more grinding, defensive efforts which is the mark of a truly good team. They have been strong both at home and on the road and look like a team ready to make a second consecutive trip to at least the Eastern Conference Final. They do have one significant area for concern, however, and that is their performance early in games.
Fans at the TD Garden have enjoyed two come from behind victories and almost a third in the last two weeks and while those have been fun, the flip side of that is that Boston has continued to fall behind early. Their winning percentage when giving up the first goal is hovering in the .630s (their point percentage is even higher), which is amazing but also unsustainable. NHL teams that give up the first goal generally win 33% of those games, and it is reasonable to think the Bruins will start to fall at least part of the way back towards that number in the coming weeks and months.
Bruins Coach Bruce Cassidy was asked about it and the Bruins big division lead after last night’s game and had the following to say: “Lack of urgency some nights? I would say yes. We’re not pushing as hard as we need to to get to our level. Is that because of where we are [in the Atlantic Division standings], is that because of last year, is that because we feel like we’re a good enough team that we can flip a switch? Probably bits and pieces of all those things, I’m not going to deny it. Our job is to make sure we don’t get complacent. I don’t think we have been, to be honest with you.”
The Bruins have allowed their opponent to score first in 11 out of 29 games but are an impressive 7-1-3 in those 11 games. But the Bruins have goals of winning a Stanley Cup, and (not to state the obvious) there is no overtime loss point consolation in May and June. Those four losses would be just that, four losses. In addition, the Bruins are going to run into teams in the playoffs who won’t relinquish one goal leads as the Canadiens, Rangers and Blackhawks have recently.
It is good that the Bruins have shown the resiliency to overcome these deficits, but Boston cannot depend on coming from behind to win a Cup. They are without a doubt one of the best teams in hockey and if they can fix this flaw, they will become the team to beat in the NHL. If they cannot, they will find themselves watching someone else hoist the Cup again this June.