Updated: Apr 13
With the recent victories over the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals, the ’22- ‘23 Boston Bruins became the winningest team in NHL history, with 64 wins, surpassing the historic ’95-’96 Red Wings and recent record-tying ’18-’19 Lightning. Boston has an incredible 63-12-5 record going into their last regular season game against the Montreal Canadiens. A lot has gone right for the Bruins this season, most obviously the success of their offense, but their overall makeup as a team is what makes them so formidable.
It appears that the success that the Bruins have had this season is due in part to five major factors; the first being new Head Coach Jim Montgomery, who came in from an assistant coach position in Saint Louis. Montgomery said early on that he wanted to implement a more offensively based scheme with the Bruins that would allow players to play faster and more instinctively coming in, and as a result the league has witnessed the meteoric rise of David Pastrnak. Pastrnak currently sits within the top-five highest scoring players this season, with 60 goals and 111 total points. Along with boasting one of the highest scoring players in the league in Pastrnak, the Bruins are the highest scoring team in NHL history, with 133 points heading into their last game before playoffs.
The third factor to the Bruins’ record-breaking success would be their defense, who currently sits at the top of the league in terms of penalty-kill percentage, with an astounding 87.41% penalty kill. A big part of the Bruins defense has been Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy leading the way, and as of recently, Dmitry Orlov has proven to be a strong defensive scorer. In total so far this season, the defense has averaged a score of 2.14, leading the league.
It should go without saying that behind every great hockey team is a great goalie, and Boston happens to have two, in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. Ullmark and Swayman have been interchangeable this season, with Ullmark starting in 47 games with a record of 40-6, and a .938 save percentage, along with two shutouts on the season. Of course, you cannot mention Ullmark without mentioning his electric empty-net goal back in late February against the Canucks, where he was the first goaltender to score a goal since Pekka Rinne in early 2020. As for Swayman, he has recorded a .922 save percentage and four shutouts in 32 starts, along with a record of 23-6.
The fifth and final, and probably most important factor in the Bruins’ historic season has been their overall team chemistry. As mentioned before, the two goalies are interchangeable, with both Swayman and Ullmark playing at a high level, and one would think that there would be a fierce competition there, but at least on the ice, it has been all love and respect between the two Boston goaltenders. Ullmark and Swayman even have a trademark bearhug celebration after every Bruins win.
The bearhug celebration echoes the culture within the Boston locker room, which is supportive, yet also pushy. A great example of this comes from Pastrnak’s recent postgame interview with Bruinsrinkside, with him commenting on how Brad Marchand guided him in the right direction not only this season, but throughout his career.
“There is one great point that Marchy [Marchand] told me many many years ago, when I was young, he said that you have to always aim ten goals higher than you think you can get, so I was definitely aiming at sixty, wasn’t really thinking that I would get there, definitely special, but that’s one of many great pieces of advice you get from leaders like these guys,” said Pastrnak
The quote from Pastrnak speaks volumes about the team’s dynamic and chemistry. Looking up and down Boston’s roster, they seem to have an excellent balance of experience and youth, with veterans such as Marchand and Bergeron leading the way, and guys that are right in the middle or early part of their career, such as Pastrnak, Trent Frederic, Jake DeBrusk, and Pavel Zacha, who was just presented the seventh player award before the victory against Washington. This mix of different experience levels complement each other very well, and not only do the Bruins have stars like Pastrnak, Marchand, Bergeron and Krejci, but they also have a great supporting cast in guys like Connor Clifton, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Brandon Carlo, just to name a few.
Although Boston has proven to be one of the most, if not the most accomplished team in NHL history, the job is not done. As stated before, the Bruins have one more regular season game in Montreal, and that serves as another chance to rewrite history and further themselves from the original regular season win record of 62 with potentially 65 wins.
Obviously, the Bruins have punched their ticket to the playoffs long ago, but if the playoffs were to start today, they would start their playoff journey against the 41-31-10 New York Islanders, who they’ve already handled three times to the tune of 4-3 back in December, 4-1 in January, and 6-2 in late February. As everyone knows, playoffs are a different animal than the regular season in every sport, but it is obvious that the Bruins will be one of the more fun teams to watch in the playoffs. Hopefully Boston can continue their excellence into the playoffs and achieve the ultimate goal; The Stanley Cup.
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