Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper (USA Today Sports)
The Bruins have shown that they can play with the top teams in the league, beating teams like New Jersey and L.A, who are at the top of their respective divisions currently. But the inconsistency at the start of the season along with the four-game losing streak in early November has held the Bruins out of a playoff spot for some time. Here’s a look at some promising facts that could help the Bruins rise up the ranks.
After a slower than expected start from the B’s, they have come back to be one single point out of a playoff spot. And when you take into account that they have only played 25 games instead of the average of 27/28 games played, you realize that they have a potential of 4/6 more points they could gain in the standings. That would send them up one point behind Toronto for second in the Atlantic. That is something that the Bruins haven’t been close to since the first couple of weeks into the season. The games in hand should come in handy, if (And that’s a big ‘IF’) the Bruins can win those games that they have in hand.
The Bruins and their fans have seen so many “Should Khudobin Be The Number 1 Goalie Over Rask” headlines that you’d think that they would have a terrible goal differential, but they actually aren’t that bad at -4. While that is in the bottom half of the rest of the NHL, it’s third best in their Atlantic division. Thir largest losing differential in the score this season was their second game, a 4-0 loss to Colorado, and they have just two losses of three goals. With teams like Detroit losing games 10-1, the Bruins are considerably better with not letting the games get out of hand. This helps them stay in contention more games, and the fewer goals the other team has, the more likely your team can make a comeback. Pretty simple math.
*To explain this tweet, many people were taking Haggerty’s take on how he believes that Khudobin should play more as a call for Anton to be the new Number 1 goalie. This may not have been the case in this tweet/article, but a lot of journalists implied that a shift of power in the net could be coming soon if Rask did not play better. This is also from October 23rd, so quite a bit of time has passed since then. Just an example of the fighting in the Bruins Twitter world while Rask wasn’t winning*
The Bruins are now 7-4-2 at home, giving them 62% of the total points they could have got while playing 13 games. This ties them with Toronto for second best home points percentage in the Atlantic, only trailing Tampa who is at an incredible 82%. This is a positive for Boston because they have only played one more game at home than away. This means they’ll have more opportunities to play in a building that they are familiar with and comfortable in. Hopefully, they can get even better at home so visiting teams know that it’ll be an extra difficult game to play.
The early injuries have been a curse, but also a blessing in disguise. It has given the Bruins management an opportunity to see who could be NHL call-up material, like Danton Heinen or Peter Cehlarik, and who they should depend on when the going gets tough. The injuries also let the Bruins sneak away with going 1-3 while playing four divisional games. When people look back, they’ll say that the lineup was a mess, etc. So when the Bruins play 5 Atlantic division games in their last six, they should hopefully be healthy enough and willing to put up a better fight than before.
The Bruins are close to the playoffs but need to be in a better position by the Christmas break. As I referenced in a previous article, if you are in a playoff position at the holiday break, your team has a really good chance of staying in that position come April.