Going into the 2015-2016 NHL season, the Boston Bruins were doubted by many, including myself. A perennial playoff team, things seemed to be trending downward for this team. A major reason for the doubt was their outdated style of hockey. Whether or not the team could adjust their style to the faster paced style of hockey that has become prominent in the game today was the major question mark facing this team.
So far this season, the Bruins have done nothing but put the puck in the net. The Bruins boast the number one offense in hockey as well as the top power play percentage in the league.
The Bruins are averaging 3.9 goals per game, best in the league. A major reason behind the offensive outburst is a rejuvenated David Krejci. Returning from an injury that cut his season short last year, Krejci is currently fourth in the NHL with 15 points.
The youth on this roster has proven to be steady so far this season. Complimenting players such as Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, guys such as Brett Connolly and Ryan Spooner have looked strong and poised to take the next step in their development. If these young guys can continue to play at a higher level, they will be a crucial addition to veterans such as Krejci and Bergeron.
A strong power play is crucial to a team’s success. The Bruins have had an outstanding power play to begin the year, a major reason the team sits at 6-4-1. Converting on 35.3% of their opportunities, the Bruins have been able to take full advantage of their opportunities man up. The efficiency of the offense early in the season has been the fuel to the fire.
Only averaging a league average 29.7 shots per game, the offense sitting atop the league in goals per game is a reflection of the efficiency this offense has produced.
Going undefeated on the road to start the season, this team showed the early season doubters that they were not incapable of skating with teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are far and away the toughest opponent the Bruins have faced early this year. Bruins split 1-1 with Tampa with a win on the road
More from Chowder and Champions
- 3 Midseason Chaim Bloom Decisions That Have Killed the 2023 Red Sox
- 10 Patriots Who Will Be Cut by Tuesday’s Roster Deadline
- MLB Screws Red Sox Fans With Broadcast for Mookie Betts Return
- 3 Most Underpaid Celtics Heading Into the 2023 Season
- Red Sox Continue Rollercoaster Season With Massive Win
Off to a fast start on the young season, the Bruins road will get much tougher as the strength of schedule becomes less favorable. Starting out against weaker teams is definitely a bonus for this team as they get into the tougher part of the year.
Scoring with teams that have the offensive firepower that Tampa has is no easy task for a roster lacking superstar talent. If the offense continues to be a top-notch unit, eventually Tuuka Rask and the defense will join the party.
If this happens, the balance is there for this roster to make a playoff run. Rask is an elite goaltender and will most definitely soon return to performing as one. With an improved offense and a struggling star goalie, the team has a surprise player that is deserving of the early season team MVP award.
Jonas Gustavsson has been the brightest spot on the team this year, going 3-0-0 with a 2.00 goals against average in three starts. Gustavsson has been the reliable goalie so far this year for the team as Rask has struggled. With Rask struggling, having a backup who can produce is essential. Gustavsson has been overwhelmingly impressive for a guy who had just signed with the team a few days before the season started.
Following the recent win on the road against Tampa, head coach Claude Julien spoke highly of Gustavsson’s play in net. “He made some real big saves. And even at the end, when they pushed hard, he made himself big and gave us a real good win here,” said Julien, according to Zach Cox of NESN.
With a little bit of help on defense and Rask returning to form, a team that has been firing on all cylinders on offense has the potential to greatly surpass preseason predictions and silence doubters. These next few weeks will be a strong early indicator of how good this team really can be this season.