At this midway point in the NHL regular season, it’s become more than a hot streak or a really and truly amazing few months for the Boston Bruins.
Instead, the Black and Gold are running away with the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s best team and stand on a ridiculous pace for over 130 points after kicking the tar out of the Anaheim Ducks by a 7-1 score at the Honda Center on Sunday night.
At this point they are on pace to be a legendary regular season group in the running with Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens teams from more than 80 years ago to be the best of all time, even if they know that setting regular season records isn’t this group’s goal.
The victory puts the Boston Bruins at 32-4-4 on the regular season and has them on track to shatter Boston’s franchise record of 121 points set early in the Bobby Orr Era during the 1970-71 season while showing zero discernible weakness up and down the roster.
The B’s had actually shown a sliver of a downgrade in their game during the month of December as fatigue set in a bit and they lost five games, including four via shootout or overtime, but they still “slumped” to a 9-1-4 record leading up to the Winter Classic prior to winning that in dramatic fashion with a third period comeback over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Fenway Park.
Whatever doldrums the Boston Bruins were experiencing in December are gone now, though. They swept an always challenging three-game California road trip and outscored the Kings, Sharks and Ducks by a 16-5 margin while once again finding their 60-minute groove.
“I think we’re just excited about the chance we have to do something special here…we’re just focused on getting better every game,” said Nick Foligno. “I think we were really excited tonight about having one of our best 60 minutes we’ve had in a long time. I think for our group, that was more of an encouragement than anything. We obviously know what our record is, but it’s about [the fact] we have room to grow, which is exciting and scary and a motivator for a lot of guys in this room.
“We’re trying to do something special with the group that we have here. We know the opportunity we have in front of us and the type of team we are and we just have to get to that every night.”
The numbers are eye-popping across the board for the Black and Gold. David Pastrnak is on pace for a 60-goal season (66 goals and 119 points to be exact) and sits second in the NHL with 32 goals this season behind only Edmonton star Connor McDavid.
The Bruins are second in the NHL averaging 3.85 goals per game and third in the NHL with a power play scoring at a 28.2 percent clip as one of the NHL’s most explosive offensive clubs. They lead the NHL with a paltry 2.13 goals allowed per game and a .928 save percentage with a No. 1 goalie in Linus Ullmark that’s leading the league in both goaltending categories as the Vezina Trophy favorite.
But perhaps the most telling number for the Boston Bruins is their third period dominance this season. The Bruins lead the NHL with 61 goals scored in the third period and have a plus-38 that also sets the league’s standard, and are simply overwhelming every other NHL team with their roster depth and the way they attack in waves.
“I think it’s the belief that we’re going to pull things out,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, of the way his hockey team pulls away from others in the third period as they did with three goals against Anaheim on Sunday. “I think other teams are aware that…I don’t know, what are we plus-40 in the third? It’s pretty significant and it’s pretty remarkable what these guys have done.”
"It was really our third period. We keep doing it every game"
— NESN (@NESN) January 6, 2023
The Boston Bruins are pretty remarkable at this point, even if there is growing concern, especially among B’s veterans that know better, that the B’s will be set up for some postseason challenges if they don’t experience too much turbulence during the regular season.
It’s almost unheard of for NHL teams to get back-to-back off days during the regular season, but that’s where the Boston Bruins are at the start of this week after a California sweep following a successful, memorable Winter Classic.
The outdoor game at Fenway Park actually acted as a nice little halfway mark for the Boston Bruins after putting in all kinds of good work over the first three months of the season.
“You look at the [Winter Classic] on the calendar and it kind of splits the season in half a little bit,” said Bergeron. “It is a special team. I think it’s okay to say that and embrace it. We can’t be satisfied because a lot of areas where we can be better and things we can work on because teams are giving us their best right now.
“We just want to keep that going. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. Complacency is something that you have to be careful with and you have to deal with, but so far guys are engaged and involved right now and we’re trying to bring our best.”
Certainly, the dominant B’s have earned the down time with the way they’ve consistently executed all season, and it looks like they are catching their second wind with the second half of the regular season in front of them. The biggest challenge remaining for them might just be making certain they are ready when the Stanley Cup playoff bell rings because it looks like they’ve mastered this regular season with a dominant, deep group looking primed for a long run.