Through its first seven games of the 2015-16 regular season, you cannot find a more up and down team in the NHL than the Bruins (3-3-1). Throw conventional wisdom out the window when you take a closer look at their game-by-game results thus far: Boston is winless at TD Garden (0-3-1) and unbeaten on the road (3-0). What’s more, backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (2.50 goals against average, .896 save percentage) has won both of his starts while starter Tuukka Rask (4.40 goals against average, .854 save percentage) has been a complete disaster, having allowed 22 goals already.
As always, the truth about the B’s lies somewhere between these two extreme identities. They will be better at home and things will certainly regress on the road. To suggest that there is a goalie controversy before Halloween is laughable at best and not worthy of debate at this extremely early juncture. One last unexpected twist: Boston has the best power-play in the NHL (33.3%) and they are tied for the third most goals scored (27) in the league.
Boston’s 5-3 win over the Islanders (5-2-1) on Friday was easily its most impressive victory of the season. It was the first time that they have beaten a playoff team from last year and more importantly, they built a two-goal lead and this time built off of that rather than blowing it like they did in previous losses to Tampa Bay (6-3) on Columbus Day and Philadelphia (5-4 in OT) last Wednesday.
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“It just shows that if we stick to the system and continue to play the way that we want to, then we can come back from different scores within the game (they trailed 2-1 in 1st period),” said Bruins defenseman Torey Krug.
Another good sign for Boston is that they are starting to get contributions from players all over their lineup. Brett Connolly scored a goal vs. New York, for the second game in a row, while a new-look fourth line including Ryan Spooner (1 goal, 1 assist) and rookie Joonas Kempainen (1 goal, 1 assist) each added two points. David Pastrnak potted his first goal since Opening Night and David Krejci, who is tied for the NHL lead with 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists), clinched it with an empty-netter.
The Bruins have three games this week: at the Garden on Tuesday (7, NESN) vs. Arizona (4-3-1) before a weekend trip to Florida (4-3-1) on Friday (7:30, NESN) and Tampa Bay (5-2-2) on Halloween (7, NESN). Boston beat the Coyotes 5-3 last Saturday in Glendale, AZ. They figure to be fighting with the Panthers all season for a playoff spot and the Lightning are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s not an easy stretch by any means, especially since the road games are on back-to-back nights but the B’s can settle one thing by finally getting three points on Causeway Street.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat reporter Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate