A Look at the NHL’s Best Team: The Boston Bruins

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

A Look at the NHL’s Best Team: The Boston Bruins

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A Look at the NHL’s Best Team: The Boston Bruins

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“Boston is going to go for one final push with this group before they consider pressing the reset button on the franchise. They still have a great goaltending tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, who stepped up after Rask suddenly stepped away from the game. They were close to edging out the Carolina Hurricanes last year and still have major potential to push deep into the playoffs…I believe they still have about two good years to push for it all before they finally decide to retool. If they sign Pastrňak to an extension soon, it will put them in a good place if and or when Bergeron and Marchand either retire or move on from the Bruins. But the competition in the Atlantic Division is rising…But, if one thing is for certain, just like all Boston sports teams, the Bruins will find a way to continue to be competitive for as long as possible. Because Boston loves being a city of champions.”

This foreword was part of my article about the Boston Bruins back in August. When I did my 32 Teams in 31 Days series, I made serious notes about the Bruins and how competitive and complete this franchise has been over the past couple of decades. Since winning it all in 2011, the Bruins have never slowed down or changed their formula for success. Outside of the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the Bruins have not missed the playoffs. They have won 10 playoff series since 2011, made it past the first round five times, and made it to two Stanley Cup Finals in that span. The Bruins have become one of the model franchises in building a genuinely consistent, deep, and strong Stanley Cup contender. 

The Bruins are currently on pace to have the best season in NHL history. They are currently in first place in the NHL with 80 points and have a record of 38-5-4. They made history for the best home record to start a season with 12 straight wins back on November 22, 2022, and continue to be dominant on home ice with the league’s best record at home having only lost once in regulation (22-1-3). They are the league’s highest-scoring team (3.81 goals per game). They allow the fewest goals (2.02). Their penalty kill (86.8 percent) is the best in class. They have the second-best power play (27.2 percent). These numbers are reaching historic levels. Their point’s percentage of .851 is currently the second-best in NHL history, behind only the 1929-30 Bruins (.875).

With all the success they’ve earned, they are currently on pace for a 64-win season with 137 points. The current record is held by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning, with 62-win seasons for both teams. Meanwhile, the current record for most standings points is held by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, who earned 132 points that season. With just how commanding the Bruins have been over the entire NHL, it doesn’t feel like these records are out of the realm of possibility. 

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With the way they have played so far this season, it almost seemed like this team was always this good. But the Boston Bruins, who have been competing for the Stanley Cup for so long, were at a crossroads when last season ended. They have relied upon and trusted in their tried and true group of players of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejčí. For the Bruins this offseason, there were a ton of unknowns. The team is structured around their two key centers, who have been the backbone of the forward core for as long as Boston has been competitive. There was a major importance on the return of Bergeron and Krejčí. Especially with the absence of Marchand and Charlie McAvoy due to their surgeries in the offseason. It was looking like the beginning of the end of the Stanley Cup contender era for the Bruins.  

Bergeron, Krejčí, and Marchand are all that remain from the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning roster. Since being drafted in the early 2000s (2003, 2004, 2006) they have symbolized the work ethic and the style of play of the Bruins. These players were the faces of the franchise, along with Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask back in their heyday. Bergeron has been arguably the best two-way forward of his generation, winning the Selke Trophy five times in his career (most recently in 2022). Bergeron is also one of only nine players in the NHL currently who has scored over 1,000 points, having scored 1,020 points. Krejčí sat shotgun at the center spot behind Bergeron and became one of the most underrated centers, especially in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he led the NHL with 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) in 25 games. Finally, Marchand has been one of the more antagonistic and aggressive wingers in the NHL and paved his way as one of the league’s high-end scorers despite being 5’ 9.

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

Now with the boys back in Beantown, they have contributed heavily to their potentially historic season. But there is more to the story than just the veterans. Boston went through a coaching overhaul after replacing Bruce Cassidy, who led the team to six straight playoff appearances in six seasons, with Jim Montgomery. Under this new direction, the Bruins have had a more free-flowing style of play, which has made them a five vs. five juggernaut. 

Their roster construction has been phenomenal. In recent years, the Bruins’ top-end talent was never in question, yet their depth was always their biggest question mark. Now, they have an incredibly deep roster with talent at every position. Players like Taylor Hall, Hampus Lindholm, and Charlie Coyle who were all key players to their former franchises now fill out the depth outside the Top Six. Not only that, their defense is stacked with Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk paired with the insane goaltending tandem of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. 

Last, but certainly not least, they have David Pastrňák. Pastrňák has become the new face of the Bruins and one of the league’s premier goalscorers. His rise to stardom started with humble beginnings on his draft day in 2014. When Pastrňák walked on stage at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia after being selected by the Boston Bruins with the 25th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, he kissed his hand and pointed to the heavens. The tribute, personal and heartfelt, was for his father, Milan, who was an adviser, cheerleader, inspiration, and hockey/life coach who had died of cancer 13 months earlier. Milan Pastrnak had always dreamed of his son playing in the NHL, and now David was putting the famed Bruins’ jersey over his head. Since then, Pastrňák has taken the league by storm. 

Through 557 games played in the NHL, Pastrňák has 277 goals, and 296 assists to combine for 573 points. He currently ranks third in NHL scoring with his 37 goals and 32 assists totaling up to 69 points. Pastrňák only trails Leon Draisaitl (73) and Connor McDavid (89) in league scoring. This season especially, his goal scoring has been something to marvel at. For the third time in his career, Pastrňák has reached the 20-goal mark in 30 games or less. He has now had seven consecutive 20-goal seasons and was the third player this season to reach 30 goals. His scoring contributions, along with the rest of the Bruins’ scoring surge have been a major part of the success they have had this season. 

Despite the excellence they have displayed and their utter show of dominance in the league, no one knows if they will reach the top of the mountain. The Bruins, according to Betfred Sportsbook, currently have the best odds to win the Stanley Cup with +450. Their playoff success precedes them, and they could make history as they have been all season. The Bruins, even without a Stanley Cup since 2011, have been one of the most dominant teams in the NHL.

 

Of all the Original Six teams in the Modern Era, the Boston Bruins have to be the most successful.

The Detroit Red Wings at the beginning of the Modern Era have a major claim to this title. Since the Modern Era started in 1992, the Red Wings have the most championships of any Original Six Franchise with four championships (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008). Many believe the Chicago Blackhawks have earned that right with their three championships in six years (2010, 2013, 2015). Anyone willing to defend these claims is absolutely correct in their stance. Outside their championships, the Blackhawks have not made it past the First Round since 2015. The Detroit Red Wings last made it past the First Round in 2013 and have not made it past the playoffs since 2016. The New York Rangers have not won a championship since 1994 and have only made it to the Stanley Cup Finals once since then, in 2014. The Montreal Canadiens made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2021, made it to the Conference Finals twice in 2010 and 2014, and last won a Stanley Cup in 1993. Finally, the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t gone to a Stanley Cup Final since they last won in 1967 and have not gone to a Conference Final since 2002. 

Since 2010, the Bruins and Blackhawks have been the most successful of the Original Six Franchises. But since 2015, the Bruins have been the most successful playoff team, going as far as the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019. They may have lost to the St. Louis Blues that year, yet their ability to bounce back and remain a threat every year is astonishing. This season, they currently have the highest potential to do so. With all the firepower they have partnered with their huge standings position, the Bruins have a chance to do something truly special. The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Colorado Avalanche have proven that franchises can build championship contenders that can last for decades. But that all started with Boston. Both Tampa Bay and Colorado remain strong contenders, nevertheless, they still don’t compare in strength to Boston this season. With the team in its current construction, it is hard to see a team that can challenge the Bruins this year. Which makes the Boston Bruins the current best team in the NHL. 

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