BOSTON – Conventional thinking would have had Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the New York Islanders as a textbook trap game for the Boston Bruins.
The Isles are not going anywhere at the bottom of the Metro Division, but they had been playing better of late. And the Boston Bruins have been streaking over the last month while hopping up into the top three playoff structure in the Atlantic Division, and they have been buoyed by the addition of top pair defenseman Hampus Lindholm.
But a letdown would have been understandable for the Black and Gold, and it absolutely didn’t happen in the Boston Bruins 6-3 win over the Islanders on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Instead, they had six different goal scorers and 10 Boston Bruins skaters overall crack the scoresheet in an impressive team win from top-to-bottom.
The Boston Bruins have now posted a sterling 14-2-1 record in their last 17 games and have pushed all the way to second place in the Atlantic Division with the Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning shortly behind in the rear-view mirror. It’s abundantly clear that the Bruins are playing their best hockey of the season right now and they’re bringing that kind of swagger to the rink with them every night.
“Every night we expect to win. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing or where we’re playing. It’s a really fun feeling to have,” said Boston Bruins left winger Taylor Hall, who has two goals and 10 points in 12 games during the month of March. “Every line is contributing. You’ve seen a lot of balance with the four lines and when everybody is hopping over the boards it’s your responsibility to make something good happen, and to leave something good for the line that comes after. It’s nice to see pucks go in. You get confidence as a line doing that and all of the lines are feeling it in that way.”
All three members of the second line (Erik Haula, Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak) scored goals on Saturday afternoon, and only Jake DeBrusk scored for the top line in the kind of scoring balance that’s consistently been the bane of Boston’s existence in the recent past. The defense has been stabilized with the presence of Lindholm eating up minutes with Charlie McAvoy, and both Boston Bruins goaltenders have been strong with Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark doing a lot of postgame celebrating as of late.
Just had to include another angle. 🥺 pic.twitter.com/vRnfqTDSVQ
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) March 26, 2022
The bottom line: It took a few months for the Boston Bruins to settle in with their new faces after a lot of turnover with important players like Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Kevan Miller, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and even Sean Kuraly moving on in the last couple of years. And they look completely settled in right now for a deep playoff run that might have been thought as more fantasy than reality four or five months ago at the start of the season.
“There’s a lot of new faces in the organization and there’s been a lot of turnover in the last couple of years,” said Hall. “Chara, Krejci, Tuukka, Kevan Miller, Torey Krug…those were big parts of the team that aren’t here anymore. Guys that I didn’t even play with, but you can tell that [their absences created] holes that needed to be filled.
“At the start of the year with our schedule, we would play once every five days, once every three days, and it was hard to get traction and momentum. Now that we’ve got COVID all over with, since Jan. 1 we’ve had a good schedule just in terms of keeping momentum and playing well. I think maybe fans and management were wondering what our identity was going to be, but in the room we kept focused [on the task] and we’re trending the right way.”
To say the Boston Bruins are “trending the right way” with roughly a month left until the playoffs might just be the understatement of the season.