By: Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
The Boston Bruins are off to a historic start with their 18-3-0 record and new NHL record of 12-0-0 on home ice, but it’s not just the fact they are winning games; it’s the fashion in which it’s being done. They are getting scoring from the top six, the bottom six, and the defensemen. Goaltender Linus Ullmark is stealing periods for the black and gold when the play in front of him gets a bit sloppy, and of course, true to all things Bruins – there is the next-man-up mentality that has carried over to this season under new head coach Jim Montgomery.
The Bruins sit at the top of the NHL in wins (18), points (36), goals for (85), and goal differential (+38). However, they just had a seven-game winning streak snapped by a very stacked Florida team. They hold a seven-point lead over division rival Toronto and a four-point lead over conference rival New Jersey, who just had a 13-straight game win streak annihilated by the Maple Leafs and questionable non-goal calls after losing their first two games, which resulted in “Fire Lindy” chants at the Prudential Center. Those chants were followed with apologies to Lindy Ruff.
Along with Boston and New Jersey, the other surprise in the league is how well the Vegas Golden Knights are playing. With a 16-4-1 record, Vegas sits three points behind the Bruins for tops in the league. But looking at these teams, the difference is not just wins and losses; it’s the numbers Boston is putting up, the play of each member of the roster, and of course, goaltending. Fourteen of Boston’s 18 wins were by two or more goals, and all four games the Bruins won by just one goal took either overtime or a shootout.
Ullmark leads all goalies with 13 wins, .935 SV%, and 1.96 GAA while facing 431 shots in the 15 games he has played. Out of his 14 starts, Ullmark has one loss against Toronto, where he made 26 saves in the 2-1 Maple Leaf win. Boston’s second goaltender, Jeremy Swayman, has two losses between the pipes for Boston and has won three. His save percentage of .922 is high in goaltender rankings, but the 2.50 goals-against average he’s put up thus far needs to be better.
A number the Bruins need to bring up is the penalty kill. The team once sat at the top of the league, but since defenseman Derek Forbort’s injury, they have gone 31-for-42, 73.8%, which is 24th in the league, according to WEEI’s Ty Anderson. Boston has also allowed power-play goals on six straight games, which indicates the team needs to fix its special teams play. However, the Bruins settled down after allowing two Carolina power-play goals in Friday’s matinee. They stopped the Hurricanes from scoring again, even with four additional opportunities on the man advantage.
One thing for certain, this team is a family on and off the ice. They support each other during injuries, good plays, and bad. They show no signs of quitting, which is apparent given the ability to come back and win after being down early in the game or impose their sheer dominance and put away games in the third period. Michael Rudd points out that the schedule before Christmas is a nightmare, but if Boston can win games as they did against the Lightning on the road and Carolina at the TD Garden, they should be fine heading into the new year. Oh, and they sure are having fun doing it. What do you think? Is this team for real? Or are they going to flounder in the upcoming weeks?