Standing strong at 13-2-2 at the end of February, the Boston Bruins are well on their way to a deep run into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their season began in mid-January, after the National Hockey League (NHL) lockout, which, lasting three months too long, delayed the start of the now shortened season. With just 48 scheduled regular season games (down from the normal 82), every game is critically more important in the hunt for a top seed in the postseason.
Bruins fans were certainly happy to see their team back on the ice, as they defeated the New York Rangers 3-1 on Jan. 19. Yet this team was missing a familiar presence in net, as 2011 Stanley Cup hero Tim Thomas decided to take a break from hockey this year. His decision comes with the mentality that the goaltender can be better off physically and financially by advertising himself as a returning goaltender to the League after a year of rest, but the Bruins weren’t going to have any more of the drama caused by the outspoken Thomas. The saga ended when he was traded to the New York Islanders on Feb. 7.
Any questions about the Bruins and their ability to start strong in the lockout-shortened season were quickly squashed as the B’s came out of the gate with one of their strongest starts ever. Tuukka Rask proved to be up to the challenge of replacing Thomas, breaking out with a phenomenal start to the season, leading the Bruins to a 5-2 record throughout January. Boston stayed hot through February as well, losing only twice more and capping off the month winning 5 games in a row. As of the beginning of March, they have 28 points; the second most in the Conference to their division rival Montreal Canadiens.
If the Bruins want the top seed in the East, they are going to have to outplay Montreal over these next couple of months and likely square off with them in the postseason. Montreal has seen backstop Carey Price amongst the leaders in goals against average this year, right alongside the Bruins’ Rask. Both are 25-year olds with the potential to be doing battle as leaders of the rival franchises for years.
Leading the way through the torrent start for the Bruins has been leading scorers Brad Marchand, with 10 goals, and Nathan Horton with seven on the season. Meanwhile 21-year old stud Tyler Seguin has continued to play well after showing off his skills internationally during the lockout, as he’s scored three goals and assisted nine times this year, and he recently picked up at least one point in each of five straight games.
Looking forward, the Bruins have their work cut out for them in the month of March, playing an incredible 17 games in 31 days. No doubt, the B’s will look to ride their end-of-the-month win streak into March, continuing their impressive play. Regardless of what happens in the two months left to come in the regular season, the Bruins have given their fans a lot to cheer for, in the hopes of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Boston once again.