By: Mike Sullivan | Follow me on Twitter @_MikeSullivan
At this point in the season, the Boston Bruins have reached an unattainable record of 34-5-4 through 41 games. That’s a winning percentage of .837. In comparison, the second-closest winning percentage in the NHL belongs to the Carolina Hurricanes at .705. The gap between the Bruins and the rest of the league continues to grow, and there are no signs of slowing down.
As we look to the future, April to be exact. One thing that needs to be reiterated is the importance of the remaining divisional games. Through 12 games against Atlantic Division opponents, the Bruins hold a respectable record of 7-3-2. It isn’t easy to improve on that record when the Atlantic is by far and away the best division in the NHL.
Here’s why it’s crucial to beat Atlantic division opponents through the rest of the season. If the Buffalo Sabres sneak into that final wild card spot, which is entirely possible, the Bruins will more than likely face them in the first round, and if they move onto the ECSF, they’ll face either Tampa Bay or Toronto. So in this scenario, the Bruins will face two Atlantic Division opponents on their way to the Eastern Conference Final.
Oddly enough, the Bruins have fallen to the lowly Ottawa Senators twice, the Sabres in overtime, and the Florida Panthers and have a 1-1 record with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Bruins have outscored divisional opponents 45-35, a margin of 10. While also outshooting their Atlantic Division foes by a total of 26 shots. 397-371 total.
For the sake of argument, if the Bruins were to play the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, I, along with any sane NHL fan, would say the Bruins would win that series 99 times out of 100. Although, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say crazier things have happened. We all remember when the President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning got swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019, stunning the rest of the NHL. Anything can happen.
Boston has played Buffalo twice this season, winning once and losing once in overtime. Buffalo is no longer a team that can be looked over. With guys like Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch, Rasmus Dahlin, Dylan Cozens, and Jeff Skinner’s resurgence, goaltending is the only aspect this team is missing. They’re capable of beating you with their high-flying offense. The Sabres are third in the league in terms of goals, one behind the Boston Bruins. With two games left in the season against Buffalo, I’d say those are must-win. Stomp on their throats and leave no room for doubt.
If the Bruins are fortunate enough to move onto the second round (no jinxing here), they’ll likely face either Toronto or Tampa. Two powerhouses in this division.
Through two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins have powered along with two wins, both in regulation, outscoring them eight to four. Tampa is a team, clearly, with playoff experience. Guys like Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov are all perennial all-stars with playoff resume that rivals the greats. Not to mention Vezina-level goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Their elite offense and defense, combined with their depth, are not to be taken lightly.
With two games left against Tampa, take these opportunities to go undefeated against them in the regular season and plant that seed of doubt in their minds. Own them.
Finally, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since the infamous 2013 game seven comeback that we all hold near and dear to our hearts, the Bruins have been a thorn in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ side—edging them out of the playoffs in 2018 and 2019.
Through two games in the 2022-2023 season, the Bruins and Maple Leafs have edged each other out in two one-goal game contests. This rivalry has surpassed Bruins/Montreal for the time being. Every game is close, every game is emotional, and every match is star-studded. There’s nothing more entertaining than Bruins Maple Leaf hockey except Bruins Maple Leaf playoff hockey.
They’re bound to be a rollercoaster ride with two more games against Toronto this season. With each team scoring five against the other, this series would once again go down to the wire.
So take the remaining games against them and pour it on. Don’t allow this lineup of Leafs to gain any confidence against you. Knock their confidence down, and don’t let it rise.
The Bruins have been an unstoppable force in the National Hockey League this season, and we’re all counting the days until playoff hockey. As we look towards April, it’s important not to become complacent with the team’s achievements thus far. Keep pushing, keep grinding and keep collecting two points. Prove you’re the powerhouse in the Atlantic Division and solidify yourself even more as the one and only team to beat.