The Boston Bruins played in the very last game of the regular-season for a chance to finish first in the East. They lost, but how exactly did they get there?
Over the past day or so, practice lines and potential Game 1 lineups have been popping up all over Twitter. Earlier today, a friend reminded me of the Game 1 lineup the Boston Bruins entered the 2017 playoffs with. Let’s just say, it is not shocking they exited in the first round.
But, looking at these potential new lineups in 2018 shows how much different this Bruins team really is. While they may not have ended on a strong note, they played a solid season and still finished with 112 points. That amount of points and their position in the standings come as a shock to many experts if you were to look at their preseason predictions.
Team mentality leads to success
So how exactly did the Boston Bruins find themselves playing for first in the last game of the season? Did they have a league-leading goal scorer? No. Did any player reach over 100 points? No. Were there multiple players in the league top ten in points? No. Should I go on?
The Boston Bruins are so good because they are a team. They have played as a team this whole season and found success when every player executed their role. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why this team was so successful and what makes them so unique.
- Every player who wore the “C” or “A” this season had been injured at one point or another.
- There are a total of eight players on the team who scored their first career NHL goals.
- The roster is roughly a third different, if not more, from last season.
- There are 12 players who finished with double-figure goals. Rick Nash is the only one acquired during the season.
- There are only two players who finished in the Top 30 in goals (David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand).
- There is only one defenseman in the Top 10 for points (Torey Krug). The next highest is Charlie McAvoy who finished 47th.
- They finished with the best record across the league since November 15th (96 points).
- They finished the regular season playing 21 games in 39 days and still went 12-5-4.
- This break between the season and playoffs is the first time they have had three days off since February.
- As a team, the Bruins finished top 5 in powerplay percentage, penalty-kill percentage, goals against and points (and finished 6th in goals scored).
Clearly, the Boston Bruins had something special this season. Those statistics above don’t include all those come from behind victories or take into account the large number of injuries spread across the entire roster. Yes, the team may be inexperienced, but they most certainly have the “it” factor. That is why they have finished as an Eastern powerhouse. That is why they were playing for first place the last game of the season. And, that is why I believe they can reach the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.