Can anyone stop the Bruins right now?
For the first half of the season, the answer to that question has been a resounding no. After 47 games, the Bruins hold a record of 38-5-4 and have reached 80 points faster than any team in NHL history. They’ve scored the most goals in the league, have let in the fewest goals in the league, and have a goal differential that basically doubles the next best in the league. They’ve been particularly dominant on home ice, losing just one game in regulation at the Garden this season. So how have they been so good? Let’s get into it.
Firstly, the Bruins have easily been the best defensive team in the NHL. With a deep group of blueliners and their starting goaltender leading the league in almost every statistical category, Boston has allowed just 98 goals in 47 games. That’s 25 goals less than the next best team. When backup Jeremy Swayman gets the start, the Bruins don’t miss out on much as Swayman has a GAA of 2.25, which is 4th best in the league. It’s not just the goalies getting it done though, as the guys in front of them are stellar as well. The group is led by Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm, but all six regulars are currently averaging over 17 minutes of ice per game.
Boston’s depth continues at forward, where the team has three lines that can play almost equal minutes. To start most nights, they’re currently putting Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron together on one line, David Krejci and David Pastrnak on another, and Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall on a third line. Although Pastrnak is the only one producing top level numbers, this depth has created matchup nightmares for opponents and every player has chipped in on the score sheet. I haven’t even mentioned Pavel Zacha or the injured Jake Debrusk, who have both already reached 30 points on the year as well. With this kind of talent everywhere in the lineup, the Bruins can easily mix and match their lines to whatever style the game dictates.
It doesn’t take a deep dive to understand how the Bruins got this kind of depth in their roster. This season, Charlie McAvoy is the only player on the team making more than $6.7 million per year. The NHL’s top scorer on any team not called the Oilers makes $6.66M. Hall and Marchand make $6M and $6.125M respectively. After signing one-year deals in the offseason, David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron make a COMBINED $3.5M. Ignoring rookie deals, there is not any other team paying their best players less money than Boston right now. The veterans are much happier winning games than having a few more millions in their bank accounts, and the product on the ice shows exactly this. In a time of larger and larger salary cap percentages going to less and less players, the Bruins are a very successful example of the opposite approach.
You can check out the whole cap situation here.
Obviously, this kind of situation cannot be replicated easily, and Boston will most likely see a large overhaul next year. In a way, the Bruins are in the midst of their own ‘Last Dance’, led by a core of players who have been there for many years. If they do anything at the deadline, it will almost certainly involve a skilled player coming to Boston as they gear up for a deep playoff run. With the playoffs almost a certainty at this point, all there is to do for the rest of the season is enjoy the ride and appreciate what these guys are doing.