By: Joey Partridge | Follow Me On Twitter @joey_partridge
Through 22 games in the shortened 56-game NHL season, the Boston Bruins find themselves right in the middle of a jam-packed MassMutual East Division. The Bruins have 32 points, which puts them six points out of first place and three points out of a playoff spot. So yes, this division is not the one to be dropping games.
The Bruins have played some good hockey, but they have been losing some games that they realistically should not be losing. Like Superman, it seems the black and gold have their own form of Kryptonite, and it comes in the form of the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders. The Bruins have a horrid record of 1-5-2 against those two teams and an astounding 13-1-2 record against the rest of the division. So, what is it about those teams?
First things first, it is hard not to notice the different styles of play. The Islanders are one of the best defensive teams in the NHL year in and year out. They play defense first. The addition of coach Barry Trotz did the Islanders wonders. Trotz preaches defense, and to prove it, look at what he did for Alexander Ovechkin when he was in Washington. If you don’t play hard in the defensive zone under Trotz, you will not play; it is that simple.
The Devils have always played a defense-heavy and trap-style game for all of recent memory. They like to play that 1-3-1 neutral zone trap and have been doing that ever since the 90’s, it seems. The recent hire of Lindy Ruff has them playing very hard on the puck and giving the Bruins fits. The Bruins struggle against these defense-heavy and trap teams.
The stats don’t lie; the Bruins need to figure out how to put the puck in the net against these two teams. They have a total of 10 goals in the eight games against these two teams. It doesn’t matter how good the Bruins are when it comes to defensive structure; you need to score in this league to win.
The Bruins have eight more games against these two clubs, two on the road and six at TD Garden, all of which will have fans back in the stands, so maybe that will add an extra added boost. It isn’t all bad news, however. The Bruins still have eight games to play against the Sabres, so let’s hope the guys don’t let those games slip.
Looking into the brief future, the Bruins play the Rangers Saturday afternoon, then two against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and then two against the Buffalo Sabres. If the Bruins were to kickstart a little run, now would be a great time to start.
There are a lot of brighter days ahead. Tuukka Rask has been playing great, the young kids are starting to find their groove, and the top line is doing what they always do. Buckle up Bruins fans; it is going to get bumpy.