Sitting with an astounding file of 38-5-4 and with the closest competitor for any variety playoff positioning being a whopping 14 factors behind them, the Bruins may use a problem. And they’ve bought a fairly good one on their plate proper now.
After dispatching the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, the competitors ramps up on Thursday once they face the Tampa Bay Lightning, who’re making an attempt to maintain their hopes of house ice alive in what seems to be an inevitable first spherical sequence with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Then on Saturday, they’re in Sunrise to face the Panthers, the place they suffered considered one of their 5 regulation losses. On Sunday, they journey to Carolina to play a Hurricanes crew that might characterize their hardest take a look at within the Eastern Conference and the place they had been swept final season within the common season and playoffs. And within the closing sport earlier than the All-Star break/bye week, the B’s will head north of the border to resume their rivalry with the Leafs.
As far as challenges go, that’s a fairly good hunk of meat for the B’s to chew on.
But there’s nothing on their resume that claims the B’s received’t be up for it. They’re first in targets in opposition to, tied for first in targets for, first in penalty kill and second in energy play. They have but to lose two in a row. Whatever stat you wish to search for, it’s guess that they’re at or close to the highest of the checklist.
In brief, the B’s are within the means of placing collectively an unimaginable yr, fairly presumably an historic one. Their win in Montreal made them the quickest crew to 80 factors ever within the NHL. With 35 video games left and 70 factors nonetheless on the desk, catching the 1976-77 Habs’ file of 132 factors seems do-able.
B’s coach Jim Montgomery is aware of common season factors imply little past house ice as soon as the playoffs begin. And he’s totally conscious of the prolonged historical past of runaway Presidents’ Trophy winners assembly an unceremonious finish as soon as the post-season begins.
But Montgomery feels his ace within the gap is the management he has on his facet, gamers like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand, who have already got a hoop from 2011 and have made two extra journeys to the Finals.
“The only thing that favors us is that our leaders have done it before. That’s the biggest caveat,” Montgomery informed reporters in Tampa on Wednesday. “But nevertheless, there’s a bunch of guys who have done it before. We have players who have had swings in the season where they haven’t been playing as well, but we have so much depth that other players have picked it up. Early in the season, our third and fourth lines were scoring a lot 5-on-5. Now our top two lines are scoring a lot 5-on-5. Our D corps went through a month of not scoring and now they’re scoring again. And our goalies I think went through a month where they were the reason we won. So there’s a lot of different ways that we’ve won. And we can draw on that. Like (Tuesday) night, we scored two playoff-type goals. The Krejci goal and the Bergeron goal, those are goals that you need to score to win in the playoffs and we have to continue to grow in those areas. What translates to playoff hockey? What can we draw on that we’ve done before? You can’t replicate playoff intensity. That’s going to be the biggest change.”
With their win in Montreal being the most recent proof, the B’s present up at profitable time. They personal a league-best plus-44 differential in third-period scoring. On Tuesday, Bergeron began out 0-for-8 within the faceoff circle, however continued to grind away till he received a late offensive zone draw and scored the winner, his 79th profession GWG.
“When it counts, we make it happen. And that’s been the trademark I would say of this team. When it counts, bet on the Bruins,” mentioned Montgomery.
Beyond all of the stats, that is perhaps essentially the most encouraging factor about this crew.
Taylor Hall mercifully snapped a 16-game goal-less streak, tapping in a rebound from the highest of the crease. That’s exactly the realm from the place Montgomery informed Hall he’d discover success as he struggled.
“We talk about work habits a lot. As long as his work habits away from the puck are good, he’s helping the team win,” mentioned Montgomery. “The thing you don’t want people to do offensively is get away from good habits. And what happens is guys tend to want to go to the puck and get away from being inside the dots and they end up outside the dots and they never end up getting opportunities that are high end Grade As. And we talked about that. I thought the game before at home (against San Jose) was his most dynamic offensive game and hard offensive hockey. And he just missed some opportunities. You could see the frustration mounting in him. And I talked about it. I said those opportunities, just expect the puck all the time in those hard areas. That’s how he got rewarded. It wasn’t pretty, but now I think the floodgates will open. Because talented players like him, once they get one, they come in bunches.”
Callups might not play
Montgomery mentioned he didn’t anticipate to make use of both Jakub Zboril or Marc McLaughlin, known as up for the journey, for use in Thursday’s sport. … If the B’s are to problem the ’76-77 Habs and it goes right down to the wire, it’s fascinating to notice that the B’s closing common season sport will probably be on the Bell Centre.