No One Is Playing Better Since The All-Star Break Than The Boston Bruins
There’s debate as to who’s been the hottest team in the National Hockey League since the All-Star break.
Being a little bias, it’s the Boston Bruins.
They’re on an absolute tear, amassing a 17-game point streak, and have put together a 9-0-1 won/loss record in their last ten games. Not to mention they’re doing all this without leading goal score David Pastrnak.
The Bruins season started off a little shaky, but they have turned it around and they’ve turned it around fast! Looking at the standings, there’s no denying the Tampa Bay Lightning are clearly the best team in the NHL. However, Boston isn’t going down without a fight.
Danton Heinen Fitting In Seamlessly
Goals are coming from everywhere. Had you asked me a few months ago, I would have told you this team was going nowhere. They had no secondary scoring, with productivity only coming from their top line. In Pastrnak’s absense, forward Danton Heinen has taken over. Now here’s a guy who’s taken some criticism since joining the Bruins.
A star out of the University of Denver, Heinen has fit in well with the top line. Heading into play on Wednesday, he’s registered nine goals and 15 assists which is good for 24 points. He’s been a huge help on the top line. He gives the Bruins depth, which is vital for this team at this point of the season.
At the NHL trade deadline, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney went out and acquired Swedish forward Marcus Johansson. Unfortunately, Tuesday nights game against the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t go as planned for Johansson, as he’s being medically evaluated at a local hospital. Johansson took a clean hit from Hurricanes forward Michael Ferland, who happened to get the worst of Marcus. It’ll be interesting to see what Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy does once he receives official word on Johansson from the team’s medical staff. A tough loss heading into the best part of the season.
Veteran forward David Backes has found himself with a different role the past few weeks. After a “heart to heart” conversation with Cassidy, Backes has found himself in more of an “enforcer” position through the past few games. Paraphrasing, Backes finds his new duties as important as any other role on the team. He said the hit to Johansson was clean, but when you go after one of our skill guys like that, something needs to be done.
Backes is a leader, and has been his whole career. He’s at the point in his career where he understands his role and the importance of “team first”. Because of that, put me on Team Backes.
Tuukka. Rask. Is. Good.
Lastly, a guy who I don’t think gets enough credit is goaltender Tuukka Rask. While he is a highly thought of netminder, he’s also had critics his entire career. He’s currently top 10 in the league with a .922 save percentage, along with adding three shutouts and chipping in two assists. Yes, Rask has two assists. Give him the Hart Trophy as league MVP.
Rask has taken the critics’ comments and continues to turn heads. I love the guy. Not just on the ice, but off the ice as well. Like every fan, sometimes I sit there and think that shot should’ve been saved, but for the most part Rask is the real deal. The only thing he doesn’t have (and critics hold him to it) is the Stanley Cup.
The talk around Boston is round two of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs. With a first round matchup likely with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the buzz around the city is they’ll have no problem. I wouldn’t look past Toronto, but with the heart, passion, and determination this team is playing with, it’s hard to not like their chances. Not just against the Leafs or the Lightning, but the rest of the NHL as well.
Boston’s next game will be Thursday night against the struggling Florida Panthers. The Panthers currently sit 11 points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Hopefully another tally in the win column for Rask and the Bruins.
Statistics Provided By hockey-reference.com
Featured Photo Image Credit: Nikos Michals