The Boston Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013 and came within a minute of reaching the seventh game. The Bruins won the Cup in 2011 and their goaltender, Tuuka Raask, has led Finland into the semi-finals of the Olympic tournament on Friday. Boston leads the Atlantic Division with a 37-16-4 record and trails only the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference overall.
Let’s take a look at how the B’s have put it together as we get set for the NHL to come out of the Olympic break this coming Tuesday.
Defense has been the Boston calling card throughout this run of contention that can be traced back to 2009. This year’s team is no different. Raask’s 92.8% save rate is fourth-best among NHL goalies. The team defense is good—10th in the league in shots allowed—and when you combine that with a great goaltender, you’re going to be hard to beat.
One thing Boston is not getting is a lot of offensive production from its defensemen. This isn’t the end of the world, as the Bruin defensemen have generally excelled at…well, defense. But normally you see someone like Zdeno Chara pile up the assist numbers and that hasn’t happened this year. Torey Krug, who took the playoffs by storm as a rookie last year, has been steady (12 goals/20 assists), but if Boston is to get past the league’s other elite teams, they’ll need at least a bit of offensive spice from the back line.
If you go through the Boston front line player-by-player, you would think this is a mediocre offense. There’s no one who’s reached 20 goals yet, no one with a huge number of assists, like Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. What there is in Boston is exceptional balance.
Up and down the lineup, from Brad Marchand, to Milan Lucic at left wing, to David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron at center, to Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson at right wing, the Bruins have a whole lot of players who can be the hero of the night.
What this all adds up to is an offense that’s fifth in the NHL in goals scored, not far behind Pittsburgh’s more heralded attack. And what the entire package, from the balanced offense to the good defense to the elite goaltending, adds up to is a team that again has a chance to go very deep into the postseason come spring.