After dropping the first three games of the season in embarrassing fashion the Bruins managed to pull 13 out of a possible 14 points from their next seven games propelling them right into a playoff spot and a discussion of who really is this team?
Reason #1. Tukka Rask will regain Form
Taking a look at their struggles nobody would have thought that Vezina caliber goalie Tukka Rask would have been one of their problems but he is, saves he would have made in the past are turning into silly drops and miscues. It’s reflective in his numbers as well with a 3.51 GAA and only a .876 save percentage, well below his usual numbers. However, the silver lining in all this is that I believe it’s one of the reasons the Bruins will make the playoffs. If they can keep their head above the water and are still in the playoff race while Rask is in a rough patch you know he will repay the team and do the same for them when they hit troubles down the road and his play inevitably picks up.
Reason #2. The Bruins Defense will improve and improve…. And Improve.
One problem facing the bruins in the early part of the season that also comes in the defensive zone of the game is their young and inexperienced blueline, well for now at least. Through the first 15 games of the season they have done nothing but get better everyday. One pleasant and unexpected surprise has been rookie, Colin Miller showing that he is the real deal, he has shown that he has the talent to become a top pairing defenseman and might just be the replacement for Dougie Hamilton. Torey Krug has fulfilled his word and stepped up as a bonafide top pairing defenseman this season, adding great defensive zone play to go along with his offensive output. Adam Mcquid and Kevan Miller are two of the hardest working, defensively sound toughest customers you will come across. Meanwhile Joe Morrow, or the guy nobody remembers from the Tyler Seguin trade, is nothing to sneeze at as the former first rounder has been getting better and more comfortable every game showing off his puck moving abilities. Add in the presence of Zdeno Chara and the return of Seidenberg and the only way to go for this young D group is up all year.
Reason #3. High powered offense… wait what?
Now we get the offense, the exciting part of the team this year, bold moves and words were put out about improving the offense this summer by GM Don Sweeney and president Cam Neely. They wanted to become faster, tougher and more aggressive. The team’s offensive output hurt them last year, but it was inevitable that the bruins would improve after players up and down their roster had off years last year, statistically something had to give , players had career low shooting percentages and were hit with what seemed like bad luck and a slew of injuries. Through the first 15 games the bruins own the highest scoring offense in the NHL, and with that the deadliest powerplay across the league and they are having no trouble putting the puck in the net. You also have players still finding their stride such as Matt Belesky and blooming superstar David Pastrnak, however considering all this I do believe the offensive and powerplay production will decrease as it is almost certain, but they will remain in the top five in both categories in the league through the course of the season.
Reason #4. Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Loui Erikson
Erickson? You mean that piece of garbage they got in return for Seguin? Yes, that guy. Take a look and Loui has been one of the Bruins best forewords this year, as he was last year where if he had been given top six minutes would have broke 30 goals last season. He is still one of the elite in the league even though he may not put up the points to show it, he succeeds in all other aspects of the game that simply helps teams win games. Now David Krejci came in with a vengeance after a tough, injury plagued year, the two time playoff point leader has the skills that few in the league posses. He has the ability to slow the game down and make plays that few can, he seems to be on the top of his game this year, and we know that the bruins go as David Krejci goes. Add in Patrice Bergeron and the bruins still have what I consider one of the best 1-2 center combos in the league that has already won a Stanley cup. If these two forewords are on their games they almost have the ability to pull the bruins into the playoffs by themselves. A team with Bergeron, Krejci and Erickson as pillars upfront along with Chara and Rask in the back will always have a chance to compete.
Reason #5. Claude Julien
The best NHL coach in the league, (Babcock lost that title when Toronto got worse somehow this season) as well as the longest tenured coach in the league, the guy knows how to adapt and adjust and win. Usually coaches need to be shipped out when they inevitably lose the ability to keep their players ears, what they say gets old and their voices grow stale but 9 years later Julien still has the ability to hold his players attention. Second on the bruins all time win list he missed the playoffs last year for the first time. This was not his fault as he was handed a roster with glaring holes in it and he still somehow managed to pull them as close as possible. He was told to give more young players a chance and he did. He was told to change his coaching style from a defensive system (his bread and butter) to more of an offensive system, and he has. He has shown the ability to coach under any circumstance with any roster and he has delivered. Recently named to team Canada’s coaching staff for the 2016 world cup shows how he is valued and considered one of the best. At the end of the day the bruins are being led by one of the best, and if anybody has the ability to coach a bubble team into the playoffs it is Claude Julien.