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Boston Bruins Not ‘At Our Ceiling Yet’ Despite Historic Start



Boston Bruins

There are plenty of Boston Bruins hot takers wondering if the B’s are peaking too early with a 19-3-0 record through their first 22 games this season.

Everybody’s favorite Boston sports naysayers, Felger and Mazz, believe that the NHL-record 13-0-0 start at TD Garden is somehow a bad thing for the Boston Bruins, and is evidence that the team might be peaking too early.

That’s a neat trick for a couple of Boston sports radio yakkers that had the Boston Bruins missing the Stanley Cup playoffs prior to the start of the season. Maybe it will end in a “Suck it, Felger” commercial like it did a few years ago.

The good news is that the Boston Bruins themselves aren’t buying into any of the hype either positive or negative, and their head coach believes they are still nowhere close to reaching their potential in terms of systems play or hitting their top rung potential-wise while adjusting to a new coaching staff and some different players.

“I think because of the leadership group that we have and even from the veterans that we have that don’t have letter, there’s an inner drive that we need to continue to get better,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, who is currently focused on the Bruins getting more offensive chances from below the dots and around the net as scoring goals later in the season becomes more predicated on getting closer to the net. “But there are areas we need to continue to get better at. I don’t think we’re at our ceiling yet and that’s exciting.

“But at the same time, we have to fight complacency. It’s human nature. Then again, I go back to that leadership group, and they are not complacent people. They are not happy with their own individual games a lot, which shows you the level of commitment they have to their standard of excellence.”

It’s actually not hard to believe the Boston Bruins still believe that better days are ahead this season based on the way their roster depth has overwhelmed the rest of the NHL to this point. It doesn’t mean that 37-year-old Patrice Bergeron or 36-year-old David Krejci are magically going to hit the fountain of youth come Stanley Cup playoff time, of course, but maybe they don’t have to if everybody continues to chip in as they have over the first two months this season.

“I think we’re just trying to build our game, put the pieces together and have different guys going on different nights as you’ve seen,” said Jake DeBrusk. “We’re just worried about our game in here. I think the biggest thing is that everybody is going. With injuries early in the year we needed different guys to step up and contribute.

“Now getting those guys back healthy while the ship is running hot, you see guys coming back way earlier than schedule because guys want to be a part of this. Momentum is a big thing in hockey, and we’re just focused on our game and our process. It seems like everything is going right for us right now, and at the right time people are stepping up.”

But as they hit December, it’s difficult to argue with what they have been doing or feel like it’s going away. Linus Ullmark leads the NHL in goals against average, save percentage and wins while seizing control of the No. 1 goalie gig with the Black and Gold. The Bruins still lead the NHL at 3.95 goals per game even if they’ve dipped under four goals per game for the first time this season. The Boston Bruins have so much depth that a former Hart Trophy winner is skating on their third line.

The Bruins have two Norris Trophy-level defensemen in Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy while everybody else has slotted into place on the back end, and David Pastrnak continues to light it up as a top-10 NHL scorer while things have gone remarkably quiet on the contract negotiations front.

Best of all, the Boston Bruins are doing it as a tightly bound team of players led by the best captain in professional sports, Patrice Bergeron. The B’s are greater than the sum of their parts, and the sum of their parts is pretty darn good.

“I think we know it’s there, but it’s not something we focus on,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery of a Boston Bruins team that’s won 20 straight games on home ice dating back to last season. “For us, it’s more about our process that allows us to have positive outcomes. I think Patrice Bergeron is very driven that way mentally. I’ve always been a process-oriented coach – we’re together in how we think things should work, and we believe in a process, and I think everybody in that room believes in that process.”

So for all those looking for things to pick apart or hot takes to detract from a historic Boston Bruins start that’s among the best in NHL history, it’s time to sit back, take the “L” and realize that something special is building in Boston.

“Can you stay hot and stay in the same mindset?” asked Nick Foligno rhetorically while the Bruins are in the middle of a stretch of playing three games in 10 days coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday. “We should expect to get every other team’s best just based on the team that we are and not necessarily because of our record. I think we need to understand that we’re the Boston Bruins and we’re going to get the best from everybody.

“I remember playing against this team and you had to be at your best because of the way that this team carried themselves. I take pride in that, and I think guys should prepare to always get the other team’s best. That’s a nice feeling and it’s something this group has worked hard for long before I got here. We want to continue that. We’ve talked about that in [the dressing room] and that we’re building something special, so we can’t be surprised by anything. Continue to work on the process, trust in what we’re doing, trust in each other and there’s a reason our record is the way it is.”

It’s okay to call a hockey team a “wagon” when they are 19-3-0 to start the season and are simply overwhelming other teams with their depth up and down the lineup while showing no consistent weaknesses in their game at all.

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