One of the Eastern Conference’s top teams is proving they are for real. The 2022-23 Boston Bruins opened the season with key players out with injuries. In addition to that, a new head coach was in place. Overcoming that adversity and defying the odds, the Bruins proved they’re for real on their recent stretch of play.
The 2022-23 Boston Bruins Are for Real
You can say they had an easy schedule while everyone was out, but anyone can win on any given night. The team set a record for home wins to start a season and kept winning, even without three key players. But this recent stretch of games featured top-tier teams, and with that, the Bruins showed that their dominance was no fluke thing.
Aside from one slip-in game against the Arizona Coyotes, the rest of the teams they have faced are top-tier teams in the league. The Boston Bruins went on to face the Tampa Bay Lightning twice, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche twice, and Vegas Golden Knights twice. So how did they make out?
Each win came earned and deserved, and in a different fashion. The team got off to a hot start in Tampa Bay. A big second period, where they scored four unanswered goals, helped secure the win against Andrei Vasilevskiy. Boston would then drop a stinker in Florida, giving up five goals and playing a game to forget. That type of game was bound to happen, given how things were going.
The Bruins had a lot to be thankful for, especially David Pastrnak. After being down 2-0, the team stormed back and defeated Carolina 3-2, thanks to Pastrnak’s overtime blast. They got the best of Vasilevskiy again, but the most significant test was Colorado.
The Bruins defeated them twice, and both in dominant fashion. In addition, the Bruins outscored the Avalanche 9-1. In between came Bruce Cassidy’s homecoming, as he spoiled the historic home win streak and secured the shootout victory.
All in all, the Bruins went 6-2-1 on this tough stretch. They beat the top-tier teams, a good measuring stick for them as a club. The losses came to Florida and Arizona, and despite losing to Vegas at home, they earned that point in their comeback effort.
The best part? They capped it off with a revenge victory against their former coach.
Noticeable Players/Impacts in This Stretch
The Third Line
Depth is essential, and the 2022-23 Boston Bruins have it. It helps take pressure off the top line and creates a mismatch for opponents. As teams will look to key in on the top line, it frees up other players to do damage.
You see that with the Boston Bruins’ third line during this stretch. As a trio, they have a Corsi-for percentage of 59.46 and are very good at possessing the puck. When the trio is on the ice, they have generated 26 shot attempts, 24 scoring chances, and, most noticeably, 14 chances from high-danger areas. In addition to those changes, the line scored five goals together, with three coming from high-danger areas.
Hallsy's humming. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/heN7aDUkHb
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 8, 2022
The line’s best game came on the road against Colorado. They combined for two goals (Hall and Frederic), and everyone had multi-point games. To further demonstrate how impactful they have all been, here is their production:
Charlie Coyle: 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points
Taylor Hall: 5 goals, 4 assists, 9 points
Trent Frederic: 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points
Freddy's having some FUN. 🎉 pic.twitter.com/YMyvUZHi9p
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 8, 2022
The one problem the Bruins had was depth scoring and lack of a third-line presence. This is now a Bruins team with a third line capable of producing and taking pressure off the top two lines.
If there’s one player that is not a skater to be thankful for, it is goaltender Linus Ullmark. Not only has he been playing Vezina calibre hockey all year, but he was also great in the stretch. The team has leaned on him heavily, and he failed to lose a start in this stretch.
In fact, Ullmark has not suffered a regulation loss since Toronto on November 5. During this stretch, Ullmark has gone 4-0 with one shutout victory. He is sporting a 1.00 GAA and a .960 save percentage in this stretch. His level of play continues, and he is one of the best goaltenders this season.
He has outplayed his hugging buddy Jeremy Swayman, who has one more start but was the man in the net for all the defeats.
The Boston Bruins are littered with depth. As we discussed, Hall is on the third line. That’s a testament to depth and balance. But if there is one man the team is thankful for is David Pastrnak. Throughout this stretch, there were plenty of servings of pasta to go around.
A RIGATONI ROCKET. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/xaxs7n3YJo
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) November 25, 2022
The man loves scoring goals, and he scored in bunches. He finished the stretch by scoring five goals in five straight games and finished with eight total. Of his eight goals, five came on the power play.
Pastrnak scored two game-winners, but none was as crucial as his overtime blast against Carolina. Pastrnak went one game without a goal and has continued his Hart Trophy-worthy pace to his season. His ten points during this stretch lead the team.
Pastrnak continues to drive the price up as he is in a contract year.
Not only are the Bruins one of the better 5-on-5 teams in this league, but the special teams are also at the top. The Bruins have the third-best powerplay (28.7% success rate) and the league’s best penalty kill (85.9% success rate). While that success has been good throughout the year, it was impactful in this stretch of games.
The amount of star power on the power play for the Bruins is infinite. And it proved how deadly it is.
The team went 10/37 on the powerplay, which equates to a 27% success rate. They were as successful in this stretch of games as they have been all season. In addition to the goals scored, Pastrnak potted five of them.
The team was dangerous in the high-danger areas, with 15 shots coming from the area. Of all the 10 goals they scored, four of them were from that area of the ice. Boston has been good in that area all year, and it’s dangerous with the extra man.
The already lethal penalty kill maintained that throughout the stretch. They smothered opponents and allowed only eight goals over 30 attempts. This was good for a 73.3% success rate.
The one team that got the better of them the most was the Florida Panthers (three goals). The Bruins have been good at keeping teams out of the high-danger areas and suppressing chances from the area. On the kill, they allowed only two goals from the area. The team failed to score a goal short-handed, but they did their job defensively, limiting the opposition with the extra man.
This Team Is For Real
If you ever wanted to question if the 2022-23 Boston Bruins were for real, that question has been answered. Their blazing hot start was no fluke, and they showed that they could beat good teams and compete against the elite of the elite around the league. The team is playing great hockey and will look to end 2022 on a high note, especially by playing the New Jersey Devils twice to end the month.
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