They can’t all be masterpieces, but what matters most in sports are the final results. Right now, the Bruins (39-17-9) are the hottest team in the NHL.
After Saturday’s mostly actionless 1-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden, Boston extended its point streak to a whopping 16 games (12-0-4).
Obviously, during such a long stretch of quality play, many players have made big contributions but it would be hard to argue that anyone has been more stellar than goaltender Tuukka Rask (22-8-5). With his third shutout of the season and 44th of his career, Rask pushed his personal point streak to 17 games (14-0-3). There are only 17 games left in the regular season and the B’s have rounded into form as a true Stanley Cup contender.
“Rask is really in the zone right now,” noted head coach Bruce Cassidy after Saturday’s win. “He deserved a lot of credit tonight especially early on letting guys know he was ready to go.”
To give you some more perspective on this run that he’s been on (1.87 goals-against average and .933 save percentage), Rask has yet to suffer a loss in regulation in 2019 (his last setback came on Dec. 23 at Carolina). He also became only the second goaltender in NHL history to post multiple point streaks of at least 17 decisions in his career, joining former Bruins netminder Pete Peeters.
Boston’s special teams have been very good lately and in the case of the power play (ranked No. 2 in the league), basically all season. Adding veteran forwards Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle has given the team more depth up front which will only get even more impressive when star David Pastrnak returns from his thumb injury.
The defense has come together quite well as they have allowed a total of five goals in their past five games and only two in their last three. Back-to-back 4-1 wins against the San Jose Sharks and NHL-best Tampa Bay Lightning at the Garden started to open up many eyes around the league that the Bruins are far from a fluke.
“It’s not always going to be pretty,” explained Coyle. “Sometimes it goes that way, but all we care about is the win. Since the first game, our line has kept building and it feels like we’re right there [to get a goal]. We’re getting chances and opportunities so it’s going to happen soon.”
After a day off on Sunday and practice on Monday, the B’s return with another three home game week starting on Tuesday (7, NESN) vs. Carolina (36-23-6) who is also on fire with five straight wins of their own and they are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. Florida (28-25-11) is here on Thursday (7, NESN) and they’ve fallen out of playoff contention while Ottawa (22-38-5)-the worst team in the NHL-wraps up the homestand on Saturday night (7, NESN). At 24-7-3, Boston owns the second-best home record in the league (trailing only Tampa Bay).