Boston Bruins: Unpredictability Heading Into The Second Half

Dec 29, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) celebrates his goal during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 29, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) celebrates his goal during the second period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

If there is one word to describe this year’s Boston Bruins team, it could be unpredictable. How unpredictable has this season been thus far?

Now at 44 games played, more than halfway through the 2016-2017 Boston Bruins regular season, unpredictability has been a central theme to this team. Through 44 games, the B’s are 22-18-5, with 49 points and a small one point cushion between them and the third place Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division. An above .500 record, unless you combined the regulation losses with the overtime/shootout losses. All of this is nice, but if you look into the games they have played, you’ll see some surprising wins or outcomes, and some bad losses. It’s been a very up and down season thus far for the Boston Bruins.

Surprising Outcome and Bad Loss: At Toronto, 10/15/16

Not much really stood out to me personally as surprising in October, despite maybe the 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. This was around the start of the incredible rookie movement in Toronto, with Auston Matthews coming off a four-goal NHL debut just three days prior. He failed to keep up the craziness against the Bruins in his first meeting with his Atlantic Division rivals, as he had zero points in the game. This loss was against a team that was coming off a hot game from the future of their franchise. Not to mention the B’s struggling backup at the time, Anton Khudobin was in net. Although the rookies were just getting started on their productive seasons, this is a game they could have won. A better overall game and/or starting Tuukka Rask in net would have helped.

Surprising Outcome: At Montreal, 11/8/16

November is where things start to get interesting. The Bruins traveled to Montreal to play the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre, only falling 3-2 to one of the league’s powerhouses this season. Not to mention beating a team that is widely regarded as their biggest rival, and a team in which they have struggled on the road against in the past. Four days later came Arizona, in Arizona.

Surprising Outcome: At Arizona, 11/12/16

The Coyotes are currently 7-10-2 at home, 29th in the NHL in goals scored, 28th in the league in goals allowed and have a goal differential of minus-42. This is partly due to the extended period of time that young stud forward Max Domi has been injured, and will be injured going forward. Their season has been troublesome in these areas for pretty much the whole season. The B’s haven’t been known to be an incredible team in terms of goal scoring this season, but only winning 2-1 in a game like this was a bit surprising and unpredictable. Tuukka Rask was the backbone of the team as he has been much of the year, as he made 31 saves on 32 shots.

Surprising Outcome and Bad Loss: At Ottawa, 11/24/16

The Ottawa Senators, at this point in time, are a respectable team, a team that is just three points behind the Bruins in the standings. But, this is an important divisional game against a good opponent, but a beatable one. The Sens scored three unanswered goals to strip the Bruins of two points. David Pastrnak notched the only goal for the black and gold. The Bruins dropped the ball in this one and the Senators took full advantage, winning 3-1 on their home ice.

Surprising Outcome and Bad Loss: Calgary @ Boston, 11/25/16

The Calgary Flames have surged up the standings as the season has progressed due to the surprisingly great goaltending they have gotten from a familiar face. Not saying Chad Johnson is not a good goalie, but Brian Elliott was expected to be the guy in Calgary’s crease. As a former Boston Bruin, Johnson probably knows pretty well how to handle his former team. Johnson made notched a season high in saves in that game, up to that point, with 35 saves in an impressive showing. Despite the lack of offensive flare from the Bruins. Regardless of the goaltending, the Calgary Flames are a beatable team, especially without star player, Johnny Gaudreau. The Bruins fell 2-1.

Surprising Outcome: At Washington, 12/7/16

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The Washington Capitals are arguably the hottest team in the Eastern Conference right now. In the Atlantic Division, they would be in first place, but they are in the unexpectedly competitive Metropolitan Division. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and have won seven straight. Are they trying to beat Columbus’ winning streak?

Although they haven’t played this good of hockey all season, the Washington Capitals are still a force to be reckoned with. Braden Holtby was in net for the Caps that night, all serious Bruins fans should know how much of a nemesis he is to the Bruins. Holtby won the Vezina trophy after putting up ridiculous numbers including a 49-8-7 record. Holtby has a great supporting cast around him that make them hard to beat every night. Although the B’s fell to the Caps 4-3 in overtime, at the hands of a Nicklas Backstrom give-and-go goal with defenseman Nate Schmidt. The fact that the B’s took a point from a talented Capitals team, that has had their Bruins number in the past, is impressive. To this day, the Capitals have beaten the Bruins seven straight times.

Surprising Outcome and Bad Loss: Colorado @ Boston, 12/8/16

Let me start by saying that playing back to back, especially in two different cities, must be tough. But, losing by two goals, 4-2 to be exact, to the league’s worst team is unacceptable. The Colorado Avalanche currently have the worst goals for and goals allowed totals in the NHL. The Avalanche lost six games in a row before beating the Bruins, with their backup goalie in net. On the other side, current Providence Bruins goaltender, Anton Khudobin was in net. It was a battle of the backup goalies. After David Pastrnak scored two goals in 1:20 in the second period, Colorado scored two unanswered goals to get the road win. A tough pill to swallow for the Bruins, who then went on take a second 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and somehow beat the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre in overtime.

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Surprising Outcome and Bad Loss: Toronto @ Boston, 12/10/16

Like previously mentioned, the Bruins fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 for the second time two days after taking a bad home loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Winning at home has been a problem for the Bruins all year, as they are currently 9-10-0. Not the worst record, but one that can certainly be better. This one was a close game after two, at 2-1 Maple Leafs, until the B’s unfortunately, let it slip away in the third. James Van Riemsdyk and Connor Brown were the goal scorers in the third period that put the game out of reach. Auston Matthews also tallied his first goal of his career against the Boston Bruins, while Zach Hyman had the other Maple Leafs goal in the 4-1 loss.

Surprising Outcome: At Montreal, 12/12/16

In my mind, this is might be the biggest surprise that we have seen from the Bruins this year. Winning at Bell Centre is just something that seems so foreign to me, and I’m sure that I am not alone.

The Bruins birthday boy, Austin Czarnik got the scoring started in the second period. Surprising Canadiens offensive stud, Paul Byron brought the game to overtime with a goal late in the third period. Despite never playing a full 82 game season, having some in the 22-47 game range, in fact, Byron has already set a career-high in goals and points (12-13-25), in 42 games. Ryan Spooner won the game on a nice feed from Torey Krug, that lead to some open space, and a nice goal after some nice dekes on Carey Price. In the word of Jack Edwards: “Spooner sticks a fork in em’!” This was such a satisfying and relieving win for all Bruins fans. Tuukka Rask added to his list of stellar games in this one, making 30 saves on 31 shots.

Surprising Outcome: At Pittsburgh, 12/14/16

Similarly to the Washington Capitals, who are ironically big rivals with the Pittsburgh Penguins, this game ended in a 4-3 overtime loss for the Boston Bruins. Both games were on the road and exactly a week apart too, weird. Anyways, taking a point from the defending Stanley Cup champions isn’t something to be completely mad about. As of today, the Penguins have the league’s best home record at 18-2-2. The Bruins gave them one of those four total losses. Round two between the Bruins and Penguins will take place on Sun, Jan. 22 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA.

Surprising Outcome and Bad Loss: New York Islanders @ Boston, 12/20/16

The New York Islanders came to Boston around Christmas time and weren’t very nice to the Bruins. The last place team in the tough Metropolitan Division beat the Bruins 4-2. Newly named Islanders starting goalie, Thomas Greiss, made a career-high 48 saves in this one, completely stunning the Bruins.

Anders Lee exploded for two goals and an assist in an impressive stretch of games for him. Dating back to 11/23 against the Los Angeles Kings to New Year’s Eve against the Winnipeg Jets, Lee had twelve goals and three assists, good for fifteen points in eighteen games. On the Bruins side, Tuukka Rask had one of his rare bad starts of the year, allowing three goals on thirteen shots. Also, Anton Blidh scored his first career NHL goal on off of Isles defenseman, Nick Leddy’s right skate. Zdeno Chara tallied the other goal on his familiar bomb of a slapshot. Round two is coming up soon on Mon, Jan. 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Surprising Outcome and Bad Loss: At Carolina, 12/23/16

Former Carolina Hurricanes goalie, Anton Khudobin squared off against one of his former teams and let in three goals on twenty-three shots in a 3-2 overtime loss. It was a back-and-forth affair, that ended with a Teuvo Teravainen overtime winner on a nice wrist shot from the top of the circles, using Ryan Spooner as a partial screen. All of the three matchups between the Bruins and Hurricanes went to extra time, with the Bruins taking four out of the six possible points in the season series. This was Khudobin’s last appearance in the Bruins crease, before being sent down to Providence after clearing waivers for Zane McIntyre. The Canes extended their home point streak to ten games in the win.

Surprising Outcome and Bad Loss: At New Jersey, 1/2/17

This was not the best way to start off the New Year. A 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils, who are in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division. Going into the third period, it was only 1-0, but the Bruins failed to find the back of the net, while Sergey Kalinin made it 2-0 in the third period and Taylor Hall put it out of reach late with an empty netter. Former Boston College goaltender, Cory Schneider, made 22 saves in the shutout win. Tuukka Rask made 23 saves on 25 shots.

Surprising Outcome and Bad Loss: At Carolina, 1/8/17

Another overtime loss in Carolina for the Boston Bruins. This time, the newest Boston Bruins backup goaltender, Zane McIntyre got the nod in net. This game would have been much uglier if McIntyre hadn’t played the way he did. The 2010 sixth-round pick made 26 saves on 30 shots, the best performance of his NHL career to date. Unlike his previous three appearances this season, McIntyre looked much more confident in the crease. His AHL stats, with the Providence Bruins, look like this: 10-0-0, 1.41 GAA, .951 SV%.

The Bruins held the lead after the first period, by a score of 1-0, thanks to a goal from Tim Schaller on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play including linemates Riley Nash and Dominic Moore. It didn’t take Carolina long to take a lead into the third period at 2-1. After two goals from the B’s and one from the Canes, the game went to overtime, again. Sebastian Aho won the game in overtime on an excellent shot, using former Hurricane John-Michael Liles as a screen. Zane McIntyre had no chance on that one and was sadly robbed of his first career NHL win.

Surprising Outcome: At St. Louis, 1/10/17

David Backes’ emotional return to St. Louis was an explosive one from the start, in which lead to the Bruins scoring three goals, chasing Jake Allen from the net for backup Carter Hutton. Tuukka Rask didn’t have a great night in net either, making allowing three goals on seventeen shots, but he was triumphant in net.

This great start came courtesy of Tuukka Rask in net, and goals from Frank Vatrano, Brad Marchand, Brandon Carlo. Carlo’s goal was one of the weirder goals one will ever see, while Vatrano and Marchand’s were great shots that Jake Allen didn’t have much of a chance to save. Torey Krug got just his second goal of the season on the powerplay to start the second-period scoring. The Blues got goals from Colton Parayko, Patrik Berglund and Kyle Brodziak, but they weren’t enough to beat the Bruins.

Next: Boston Bruins Show Unity for David Backes in Win Over St. Louis Blues

It is now clear that a lot of these types of games have come on the road for the Boston Bruins. November and December, in particular, were very weird months. 2017 has the chance to be a more normal year for the Bruins, but they are 2-3-1 in 2017 so far.

*All information as of 1/12/17 at 7:00 PM*