The good, the bad with the Bruins a month into the season
Head coach Claude Julien and many of the Bruins players are big Patriots and Red Sox fans, so even they would probably understand if you haven’t really paid all that much attention to them in the first month of the season. Still, at 7-3-0 it has been a mostly smooth start for the B’s who have played the fewest games in the NHL (tied with the Blues), entering Wednesday’s much-anticipated contest in Pittsburgh (8, NBCSN). It’s way too early to make any broad statements about this edition of the Bruins, who have done nothing to make us forget their Stanley Cup expectations, but there have been enough games to recognize some patterns, both good and bad.
You could make a good argument that Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask (6-3-0, 1.57 GAA, .947 save percentage, 1 shutout) is the best in the NHL, or at least he’s in the conversation. The Bruins have played their familiar style, which means that they’re leading the Eastern Conference in fewest goals allowed (17,) which is only one more than the Avalanche for the stingiest defense/goaltending in the league.
Boston is also the only team in the East that is unbeaten on the road (4-0-0) this season, joining Colorado (5-0-0) for an outstanding start away from home. The other most noticeable positive in terms of an individual is Milan Lucic, who leads the team with six goals (one less than he had all last regular season) and he’s also added five assists with plus/minus of plus-7. It’s clear that he’s carried over his exceptional play from last postseason into this campaign.
There aren’t too many things to nitpick with this team yet, well except for the fact that they still struggle to put the puck in the net (30 goals) from time to time and Brad Marchand (1 goal, 2 assists, -1) has looked lost from the opening game. Switching him from the second line to the third line and now back to the second line with Loui Eriksson out with a concussion hasn’t boosted Marchand’s ghost-like production. November figures to be much harder schedule-wise for the B’s as they play 15 games in 30 days, including three back-to-backs. Finally, you knew it would be tricky for Julien to juggle his three talented young defensemen (Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski) since one has to sit basically every game, but none of them should be out as much as Bartkowski has been the last few weeks (four games in a row).
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate