By: Max Weisman | Follow me on Twitter @maweisman
The 2023-24 Boston Bruins have done something that even last year’s Bruins didn’t do. Through six games last year, the Bruins were 5-1-0. This year, they’re 6-0-0. No Bruins team has started better than these Bruins since 1937-38.
So, what’s behind this undefeated start?
When the Bruins announced rookie Matthew Poitras would start the season with the big league club, many thought he might still be sent back down to Guelph after his nine-game window was up. It seems now that that won’t be the case. Through six games, Poitras has shined, scoring three goals and adding an assist while being +4. His first two goals came within five minutes of each other in the third period of the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Ducks last Sunday. Poitras is averaging 14:27 of ice time, 7th among forwards.
Veteran Bruins David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand are also key components of the Bruins’ undefeated start. Pastrnak leads the team in goals, five, and points, eight. He and Marchand are tied for the assist lead with three apiece, and Marchand is right behind Pasta in goals, four, and points, seven.
Veteran ice presence from the newly minted Bruins captain and the ever-reliable Pastrnak have been key in pushing the Bruins past opponents. As the two longest-tenured Bruins, Marchand joined the team in 2009 and Pastrnak in 2014, the two know what it takes to win in Boston.
The Bruins penalty kill has also been a huge reason they have a zero in the loss column. The Bruins are 24/25 on the penalty kill this season. They have taken the ninth most penalties but have only allowed one power-play goal. It came late in their 4-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings when the result was already determined.
The Power Play, on the other hand, is something the Bruins need to work on. They are 3/22 with the man advantage, which ranks 21st in the league. Last year, the Bruins finished 12th in the league in power play percentage. A successful power play compliments a stingy penalty kill, and the Bruins need to get that going.
Last year’s historic goaltending year from Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman wasn’t a fluke. Both Ullmark and Swayman have made three starts and have excelled. Ullmark has a .962 save percentage and has allowed three goals, while Swayman has a .957 save percentage and has allowed four goals. The seven goals the Bruins goalie tandem has allowed through six games leads the NHL, just like they did last year for the entire season.
Finally, production from the new guys has been a big part of the Bruins’ second consecutive historic start. The Bruins signed James Van Riemsdyk to a one-year deal this offseason, which has paid off so far. The veteran forward is third on the team in points with five, behind the aforementioned Marchand and Pastrnak. JVR has three goals and two assists in the Bruins’ six games.
The Bruins also signed Morgan Geekie this offseason to a two-year deal, and while the young forward has just a goal and two assists, the Bruins are +7 when he is on the ice.
It feels wrong to call Milan Lucic a newcomer, but technically, he is this season, just in his second stint in Boston. The Bruins signed Lucic to a one-year deal this offseason and contributed immediately, assisting on David Pastrnak’s first goal of the season on opening night against Chicago. Lucic’s presence on the ice and nostalgic memories during his first stint with the Bruins is a big part of why the signing was a fan favorite.
Lucic did miss Sunday’s game against Anaheim and Tuesday’s game against Chicago after suffering an ankle injury while blocking a shot in the game against the Kings. Lucic will unfortunately miss “a couple of weeks” according to Bruins coach Jim Montgomery.