The Boston Bruins had a historic week last week after bouncing back from their second loss of the season to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Winning all four games in a seven-day stretch, the Bruins had the best start to a season since the 1929-1930 season. They also set the franchise record for the most consecutive wins at home to start the season.
The Bruins are sitting at a comfortable 14-2-0, with 28 points on the season. They are currently the number one ranked team in the NHL. This has been a fairy tale start to the season for the team and their fans.
There were a few tweaks in the off-season, but other than that, not much has changed in terms of their lineup. So, what is it that has come over this team that has proved to be the “it factor” in their play?
One of the things that many fans have noticed in the Bruins this year is the combination of the amazing work they have been putting in on the power play and penalty kill. In the last few games, it is easy to see just how in tune they are with moving the puck around.
This is very present in their power play. They are able to wheel it around quickly, finding open man after open man until they find an open seam in the net. Their power play conversion percentage is 25.42%. Even though this is a very high rate for a power play, their penalty kill is what really steals the show. The Bruins are leading the league with a 91.67% penalty kill rate.
Something of that nature is worth taking note of. When a team is left out to dry by having one of their men sent to the box, having a solid defense to kill it off can be very crucial, especially in tight games.
Not only is the chemistry on the ice a huge factor, but it is also present off the ice. Nick Foligno is a player that has really stepped it up after having a mediocre season last year. Foligno has been a big-time playmaker, setting up dimes to his linemates for easy goals. That includes assisting on Jakub Lauko’s first NHL goal.
Foligno also has brought forth an endearing bond with his teammates that has connected them. He stepped in for the goalie hugs and spoke to the media after the Mitchell Miller fiasco. Jeremy Swayman has even said that he texted him asking for his address so that his wife could bring him a care package full of food after his scary knee injury in the Bruins game versus Pittsburgh. A 17-year veteran doing selfless acts to try to bring his squad together is notable by any players standards.
The Bruins have a controversy. However, their fans should not be worried, because this is a concern that relieves stress, rather than creates it. The focal point of why this team has been winning so many games is simply because all of their goalies have been playing out of their freaking minds.
The Bruins had a problem last year with splitting time between their goalies. Swayman and Linus Ullmark have both proved that they can be the starter between the pipes come game time. However, last year showed a lot of inconsistency on both ends, so the question of who to play was more of who was going to minimize the mistakes in that current situation.
With the amount of consistency they have this year, the mentality has shifted from a condescending tone, to a more opportunistic one. Ullmark has a .936 save percentage. When Ullmark had the night off, Swayman stepped in to get a pair of games in the win column.
When Swayman got injured, Keith Kinkaid stepped in for his season debut and also helped the Bruins get 2 points after only allowing one goal. This seems like a problem that will work in the Bruins favor later on in the season.
The Bruins are back in action against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, November 17. The Flyers have had a very run of the mill start to the season. With a record of 7-6-3, they are looking to get a spark going in their team as they take on a very dangerous Bruins team. This may be a daunting task, however. With a refined power play and penalty kill, solid goalie depth, and glowing chemistry both on and off the ice, the Bruins may not be a wall that the Flyers will be able to knock down.
Featured Photo by Charles Krupa/AP Photo