The Boston Bruins are amid a 10-game winning streak, a mark last set during their Stanley Cup run back in 2011. With 99 points, the black-and-gold have essentially locked up the Atlantic Division and are rapidly closing in on the Eastern Conference crown. They hold a five point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place.
Boston is the hottest team in the NHL. The next closest team that’s comparable to them is the St. Louis Blues who are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
The Bruins are now four wins away from tieing their franchise record winning streak. Their 1929 club ripped off 14 straight wins. That team eventually went on to lose in the Cup Finals.
While one could argue the Blues may be a better team, their statistics compared to those of Boston are practically identical. When analyzing the two clubs, the depth the Bruins have at all positions, their veteran presence, and proven playoff experience sets them apart from their Western Conference counterpart.
The quality of opponents the Bruins are beating cannot be overlooked. It’s not like they are beating up on cupcakes. Over the course of their winning streak, the Bruins have knocked-off five teams that are in the thick of the playoff race. They’ve beaten Minnesota, Phoenix, New York (Rangers), Tampa Bay and Montreal. The most impressive aspect being Boston was not even at their very best in those victories.
To be a succesful team, one must score early and often. The Bruins have tallied the opening goal in seven of their last 10 games. They’ve also outscored the opposition 44-15 in those games. Jarome Iginla has led the offensive charge, scoring nine goals so far during the streak.
The frequent scoring has in turn allowed the Bruins to close out games with dominant, stifling defense. Boston has allowed two or fewer goals in nine out of their 10 wins.
Blue-line depth and a tremendous goaltending tandom has aided in such lockdown defensive play.
Since acquiring Andrej Meszaros from the Flyers, we’ve seen Claude Julien play the veteran d-man in all situations. He’s played on the top pairing, the second pairing, on power plays, and on the occasional penalty kill. The flexibility he brings to the blue-line is invaluable with the injury to Dennis Seidenberg and having three rookies who are still coming into their own along the backend.
Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton infuse the Bruins with just the right amount of youth. They’ve been productive, but because of such deep depth, Boston has the capability to trot out different pairings each night while not missing a beat. The competition between the trio pushes them to be better.
The emergence of Kevan Miller cannot be overlooked either. He’s been as consistant as any Bruins blue-liner and plays an intense style.
Julien will have the option to rest guys like Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk down the stretch. With Corey Potter on the roster and Adam McQuaid working his way back, the Bruins have the best defensive corps by far in the NHL. Each player brings a unique style to the table.
Tuukka Rask has been outstanding. He’s been arguably the best netminder in the league, having won six straight games. Then there’s Chad Johnson. He’s the best backup in the NHL. Johnson is 15-3-1 and has not lost a game at home. Such depth in net will allow the Bruins to rest Rask and head for the postseason locked and loaded. Elite goaltending wins in the playoffs. Boston has it.
And last, but certainly not the least, Boston’s forward line depth is unparalleled league-wide. Each line can score the puck, play defense, all while having the ability to play in any situation. It’s what makes the Bruins so great.
Patrice Bergeron, arguably the top two-way player in the world, leads a second line that has combined for 61 goals.
Since stumbling upon returning from the Olympic break, the Bruins have been setting the standard in the NHL. They are the team to beat. Their refusal to be content is what drives them. They are constanly striving to be better. With such an admirable work ethic, it’s hard not to imagine what this team is ultimately capable of as the regular season nears an end.
The Bruins will be tested on Friday night in Colorado. The Avalanche have totaled 94 points and are in fifth place in the West. Colorado will be the toughest of the opponents that they’ve faced in recent weeks.