Shinzawa: 8 Reasons Bruins Are Driving the NHL and Why I Was So Wrong About Them

Shinzawa: 8 Reasons Bruins Are Driving the NHL and Why I Was So Wrong About Them

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve ranked Brad Marchand as the #1 left winger in the league. Charlie McAvoy got my vote for the Norris Trophy last season. Like any coach, Jim Montgomery, I thought, would need time to get to know his players and wait for an optimization of his system. with Pavel Zacha As the only newcomer in all the games, I didn’t foresee how the average offense of 2021-22 would instantly come to life.

For all these reasons, I thought 2022-23 Bruins they wouldn’t qualify for the playoffs until game no. 82. Now it looks like they might change the gimmick for Thanksgiving.

The 8-1-0 Bruins move like a Mad Max war rig. It is the first time in franchise history that they have won eight of their first nine games. The eye test and statistics are aligned. The Bruins are the The best team in the NHL.

“Just the pride of each of the players to try to be ready,” general manager Don Sweeney noted after the Bruins’ seventh win. “The coaching staff, in a short time, met and came up with a game plan to try to improve every day. This is what we ask of each and every one of us as an organization. We have a long way to go.”

Here are eight reasons why the eight-win Bruins are roaring in a way few could have predicted:

1. There’s a lightness to the whole team that didn’t always come across last season. Bruce Cassidy is a very good coach. The villains fail to qualify for the playoffs six straight times. The Golden Knightslike Cassidy’s old team, they’ve already created separation from the suitors.

But in retrospect, pockets of the roster had grown tired of Cassidy’s steadfast approach. It showed in his work. Before the season, Brandon Carlo he acknowledged that he felt to hit sometimes because of Cassidy’s forceful response. Carlo was not alone.

It is no coincidence, for example, that Jake DeBrusk is flying after his trade request was rejected. The left wing looks to be a top-line fixture, not just because of his ability but because of his three-zone commitment. He proved it against him blue jackets in the Bruins’ eighth shutout win Kent Johnsonthe shot of DeBrusk’s reward was a breakaway goal.

Montgomery has preached an all-together attitude. No players have yet reported any message friction. He has done a masterful job of lifting the players up and getting them pulling in the same direction.

2. To David Pastor (seven goals, 17 points) has taken another step. Too bad the defender is tasked with handling him one-on-one against the rush. Not even a goalkeeper Jake Oettinger it is equipped to stop the timer from the right wing’s left elbow, even when the setup comes from a shallow angle.

Pastrnak’s bag of tricks, in other words, is expanding every day. He is impossible to contain because he can score in so many ways. Not only that, Pastrnak’s game is at a similar level. If defenders lean in his direction, Pastrnak is good enough to complete slot line passes that are cupcakes for linemates like Taylor Hall to explode

Sweeney and agent JP Barry are in regular talks about Pastrnak’s extension. No. 88 is in no rush to sign.

“JP and I talk almost every day,” Sweeney said. “I’m just trying to find common ground. Hopefully we’ll get to a point where we can announce. But we’re not there. The communication has been good. I haven’t found the bottom line yet.”

By now, Pastrnak can almost say his price.

3. The Bruins are playing fast. This is because of The Montgomery system. Not only has he given players the green light to go, he’s also made it clear where they should be: in front of the net as a weak-side defense, blowing up the zone as a weak-side wing. The Bruins’ transition game is back.

4. The depth is overwhelming. David Krejci he is out with an upper body injury. Carlo missed four games due to a concussion. Jake DeBrusk was hurt in the season opener. Jeremy Swayman started the year slowly. The Bruins traded Jack Studnicka.

None of that mattered. Fifteen players have scored goals. Connor Cliftonpreviously a third-pairing right-back, it emerged when Carlo’s absence overlapped with McAvoy’s. Linus Ullmark has shone as the No. 1 goalkeeper. There are regular dogfights over appearances between Frederic Trent, AJ Greer, Craig SmithJakub Lauko, Mike Reilly, Jakub Zboril i Anton Stralmanall of which have been scratched at least once.

5. Ullmark is an ace. It’s hard to believe that a year ago, pucks were dragging him or finding their way over him at an unexpected rate. Now fully acclimated to both the city and the franchise, Ullmark is performing at an elite level. In all situations, according to Moneypuck, Ullmark has saved 0.772 goals above expectation per 60 minutes of play. This places him seventh among goalkeepers with five or more appearances. He is playing big, square and fast.

6. Patrice Bergeron it’s Patrice Bergeron. The captain is third on the team in scoring with four goals and five assists. He is averaging 18:14 of ice time per game, almost in line with his 18:10 pace last season. Opponents are averaging 1.2 five-on-five goals per 60 minutes of play with Bergeron on the ice, according to Natural Stats Trick. Last season, when he won his fifth Selke Trophy, Bergeron had an on-ice GA of 1.68 per 60. The 37-year-old has not experienced any degree of decline.

7. They have been in command. The Bruins have scored first in seven of their nine games. They won all seven. They have closed all seven games in which they have led after 40 minutes. It is much easier to control an outcome than to chase it.

8. The defense has improved. The Bruins had leaks early. They allowed transition rushes. Their net-front coverage was inconsistent. They have made great strides everywhere. At five-on-five, they allow 2.16 expected goals per 60. Lately, the Bruins have optimized the balance between opportunistic offense and tight defense.

(Photo: Russell LaBounty / USA Today)

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