Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for family, friends and food. It is also a good barometer for NHL teams trying to make the postseason. It is often said that if your team is in playoff position on Turkey Day they have a good shot at making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the Boston Bruins, it has been an up and down roller coaster ride in the first quarter of the season. The team has dealt with growing pains trying to integrate younger players into an experienced roster, goaltending issues, and problems with the penalty kill to name a few. But we’ve also seen some good thing such as the dominant powerplay, the great start by David Krejci and the emergence of Frank Vatrano and Colin Miler, the heroes of last night’s win in Detroit which was one of their biggest wins of the year so far. At the quarter mark of the season, this B’s has a long way to go but if they can get consistency every night they will be alright. Here are some points of interest through the first 21 games of 2015-16:
Tuukka Time: Number 40 had a rough start to the year but has rebounded as of late keeping the B’s in games. While he has given up a lot of goals, he has made some incredibly timely saves such as Monday night, robbing James Van Riemsdyk in overtime in the B’s 4-3 shootout win in Toronto. His win-loss record has gone up to 7-7, save percentage to .900 and his GAA to 2.94. He has been a big part of the Bruins recent hot streak. He has got to stay consistent for the Bruins to be successful and he hopefully will build off his recent outings.
Dennis Seidenberg returns to the lineup: An already thin defense group got thinner in training camp when Dennis Seidenberg went down with a back injury. He returned to play November 12th and has played pretty consistent hockey in his games back. With the young defensemen going through some growing pains, the Bruins were in desperate need of a quality NHL defenseman. Since his return the B’s have won 5 of 7 games.
Special teams: The Bruins powerplay and penalty kill have been on opposite ends of the spectrum virtually all season long. The powerplay has been incredible operating at a 30.8 percent clip, tops in the league. Loui Erikkson has been on an absolute tear recently on the powerplay, as well as Patrice Bergeron who has 12 of his 20 points on the man advantage. The penalty kill however has been horrible but has seen some improvement of late. Getting Seidenberg back has been a huge difference as well as the improved play of Tuukka Rask.
Young players stepping up: With some injuries and inconsistent play. The Bruins have needed to get good play out of guys like Colin Miller and Zach Trotman. After slow starts both of them have gotten into a groove. Trotman’s play in his own end is still a bit of a concern but it will get better with more playing time. Colin Miller has been solid for the B’s, now playing alongside Seidenberg. Frank Vatrano a relatively unknown player coming into training camp, impressed the team so much that they called him up for a game against the Canadiens. He has impressed ever since with his aggressiveness and ability to shoot the puck. He scored 2 big goals including the game-winner versus the Red Wings last night. If he continues to play this well, look for him to make an impact like David Pastrnak did a season ago.
Solid play of David Krejci: While he has cooled off considerably, Krejci still remains a point per game player with 23 points in 21 games. He has been a calming presence in the Bruins game and still can come up with amazing plays like taking the puck off an attackers stick with ease to take away a scoring chance. He has also been a huge part of the success of the B’s powerplay.
The Bruins hope to continue their recent hot streak tomorrow afternoon when they host the New York Rangers in the Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC at 1 P.M. This will be a good test for the team as they put their winning streak to the test against one of the best teams in hockey. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everybody!