The first month of the season always seems to be up and down for the Bruins, and this October was no different. The Bruins faced many questions going into the season and the question still seem to be there after their first 10 games.
Since the 0-3 start the Bruins are 6-0-1. The schedule has been favorable with games against the Arizona Coyotes (twice), Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. But good teams take care of game that they should win, and so far the Bruins have done that. The B’s have two impressive wins over the Lightning and New York Islanders. In the last three games they’ve allowed two goals and scored 12. Bruins currently stand 6-3-1, and have earned a point in seven straight games.
Questions about goaltending and defense still hover over the team, but the offensive questions have all been tucked into bed. The Bruins lead the league in goals per game at 3.9, but they give up 3.1 per. The Power Play has also been the best in the league, with a staggering 35% success rate. Also, the play of David Krejci has been unreal, as he was recently named one of the three stars for the month of October, along with Dallas’ Jamie Benn and Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
The start of this season got off to a pretty crappy start. The B’s lost their first three games by a combined score 16-7. Although two of the losses were to Eastern Conference elite teams, the Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning, people were calling for Tuukka Rask’s head, including my own mother (sorry mom). To the majority of the people who asked for Rask’s head, I say sit down, have a drink or two and actually watch a game and see how the goals are scored, then maybe you can voice your opinion. Instead of looking at the box score, look at how the defense has been doing a pretty solid swiss cheese impression. Yes, Tuukka has allowed some soft, ugly goals, he always has, but a good majority of goals against him have been caused by the defense. The Bruins defensemen time after time have allowed easy entry into their zone, which is the first problem. After the opposing offense sets up shop, the defense can’t keep bodies away from Tuukka and in those bodies, it’s easy to lose sight of the puck, which is exactly what happens. To help drop the goals allowed per game, the defense needs to step up for Tuukka, and Tuukka will then step up for his defense.
The main cog in the machine for the Bruins has been David Krejci. Krejci’s new found ability to actually shoot the puck on net has been remarkable. Often criticized as a player who passes too much and passing up an open shot, Krejci has opened up his game and leads the team with seven goals. To put that into perspective, Krejci scored seven goals in 47 games last year. He had a nine game point streak come to an end last game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Boston still came out on top 3-1. The Czech center also has eight assists, which is tied for Torey Krug for the team lead. One final mind boggling number Krejci has to this point is his shot success rate of 24%. This means one out of every four shots he takes finds the twine. If Krejci can keep this up, he could be an MVP contender.
Some other players that have impressed so far are Jimmy Hayes and Kevan Miller. In Hayes’ return to his hometown, he has nine points so far and has done a good job of getting to the net. He only has three goals but has been getting good looks and eventually he’ll score with more consistency. Hayes should just keep getting to the net and parking himself in front of the goalie to get some more scoring chances. Kevan Miller doesn’t do much on the offensive end, but he’s stout defensively. He’s wicked tough and doesn’t take any crap from anyone on opposing rosters. He reminds me of a bigger Andrew Ference, in that he’ll be there for his teammates and will be a fan favorite, especially if he continues to bust noses. He embodies Big Bad Bruins hockey and he’s certainly been one of my favorites so far early this season. But not everyone played good hockey in October.
David Pastrnak played exceptional as the youngest player in hockey last year. Many people, including myself, predicted that he would have a great year, maybe scoring 30 goals this season. But unfortunately it doesn’t look like that will happen. He only has two goals and two assists early on. To add on to his struggles, he’s day-to-day with a shoulder injury and won’t play tonight against Dallas, who has the two leading point scorers in the league. Outside of Pastrnak everyone has been playing up to par or above expectations.
It feels unjust to write a Bruins article and not mention Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara. But it’s been business as usual for both. Bergeron has four goals, all on the Power Play. As for captain Zdeno, he’s found the net once this year but looks to be in better shape than he did last year, as he looks like the elite defenseman we all know and love.
The Bruins have gotten off to a good start but need to shore up the back end. The Bruins currently rank tied for 26th in Penalty Kill percentage at 75%. They allow the fourth most goals per game at 3.1 per game. The addition of Dennis Seidenberg whenever he gets off the DL will be a step in the right direction. Also, the developments of Joe Morrow and BC alum Tommy Cross should help the defense patch up.
Things certainly look to be turning in the Bruins favor in November, as they’ll play seven of their 12 games in the month at home. But, oddly enough, the Bruins are 1-3-1 in the Garden but are an undefeated 5-0-0 on the road. The Bruins are always a good home team so expect that to turn around. If they Bruins can keep playing well away from home, they could wind up with one of the top seeds in the conference. They currently stand in third place in the Atlantic Division behind the scorching hot Canadiens and Prince of Wales Trophy winners Tampa Bay Lightning. They’ve won four straight and are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now. It’s shaping up to be another special season in Boston.