Boston Bruins Can Capitalize On Slumping Montreal Canadiens


Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Bruins Can Capitalize On Slumping Canadiens

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The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens started the season heading in polar opposite directions. With an 0-3 start for the Bruins, highlighted by poor defensive play, bad goaltending, and bad decision making all-around by the team, the season looked bleak from the get-go for Boston. Meanwhile, north of the border in Montreal, the Canadiens were riding a 9-0 start to the season, a run in which they outscored opponents 35 to 12, including two shutouts and a 4-2 victory over the Bruins. The Canadiens found themselves atop the NHL standings as a result of their ridiculous start to the season, and they have remained near the top ever since. While the Canadiens remain near the top of the NHL, they are a far-cry from the team that rolled out four lines and played nearly-flawless hockey for much of the first two months of the season.

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  • With key injuries to both Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher, the Canadiens found themselves turning to rookie goaltender, and Massachusetts-native Mike Condon in net, as well as a makeshift combination of forward to relieve the stress of losing one of the few actual top-six forwards that the Montreal Canadiens have on their roster in Gallagher. Things went well for a time for the Canadiens, but it’s clear that they are now trending away from the direction they were heading to start the year. Over the last 10 games, the Canadiens are 2-7-1 and have been outscored by a combined score of 29 to 16, including one shutout loss to the Los Angeles Kings, and a rare loss to the Boston Bruins by a score of 3-1 on December 9th. Unfortunately for the Montreal Canadiens, who still remain in first place in the Atlantic division, the Boston Bruins have turned their 0-3 start to the season around and have made a legitimate claim for the top spot in the division as of late.

    The Boston Bruins have gone 10-1-3 in their last 14 games with a combined score of 46 to 28, with three shutouts in that time, as well as a win against the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins have found their stride, scoring upwards of three goals a game with regularity, killing off over 95% of their penalties since their November 17th loss to the San Jose Sharks, running a power play that is operating at 29.2% on the season — the second highest power play percentage is owned by the Washington Capitals who sit at 25% — as well as defense who are getting better every game and an absolute brick wall in net in Tuukka Rask. The Boston Bruins are making a claim for the best team in the division as they currently sit in second place in the Atlantic with 40 points, just three points shy of the Canadiens who have played four games more than Boston so far this season. 

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    As mentioned, Tuukka Rask has been absolutely phenomenal for the Bruins as of late after putting up horrid numbers to start the season. In the last seven games that Tuukka Rask has played in — including six starts and one relief effort for Jonas Gustavsson against the Calgary Flames — the veteran netminder has allowed only two goals or less. Tuukka Rask has allowed only eight goals in his last seven appearances, good for a Goals Against Average of 1.14 in that time span. His Goals Against Average on the season is now down to 2.42 on the year, and he sits tied in second in shutouts on the season with four. Tuukka Rask has been an absolute stud for the Bruins lately, and it’s more likely that the start to the season was an anomaly, or an exception to the rule, rather than the new norm.

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    With the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens facing off twice in January, including their tilt at the 2016 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the Bruins have a lot of room to improve their record even more. The Boston Bruins will look to continue playing their brand of hockey, while any further mistakes the Montreal Canadiens make will only benefit the Bruins even more. The Bruins control their own destiny, and it will be interesting to see what they do with this opportunity.

    Follow Brandon Share-Cohen on Twitter @BShareCohen to discuss all things Bruins and sports