The recent turnaround orchestrated by the Bruins in the last three weeks has been nothing short of remarkable. They have gone from looking like a team that was hardly a sure thing to make the playoffs to now the hottest team in the league after their 2-0 win at Pittsburgh this past weekend.
Boston (36-22-10) has won five straight games, which ties its best streak of the season. It is also the longest current win streak in the league.
The B’s are 8-1-1 in their last 10, which is tied with the Rangers for the best mark, and they have tied Washington for seventh-place in the Eastern Conference with 82 points (and a game in hand).
Goaltender Tuukka Rask (29-16-10, 2.26 goals against average, .924 save percentage) has been brilliant during this run. His shutout against the Penguins was his third of the season and 26th as a Bruin - which tied Gerry Cheevers for fifth in franchise history.
“It was a battle, it was a grind but I thought we stuck with it and played hard,” said center Patrice Bergeron on Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh. “Tuukka made some huge saves for us.”
One of the important aspects about their strong play lately is that the B’s have proven that they can beat anyone in the East, outside of Montreal. Over a week ago against Philly, Brad Marchand basically saved the season with a late tying goal in regulation, then an overtime winner that more or less ended the Flyers’ playoff hopes. The next day they beat Detroit, 5-3, last Tuesday they won 3-1 in Ottawa (which had been on fire), then they continued to own Tampa Bay with a shootout win last Thursday.
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With all the playoff experience on the roster, the Bruins should have plenty of confidence against pretty much everyone they’ll see in the East. The Rangers have wrestled away the top spot from Montreal, while Boston has made its move on Washington and Detroit (only five points ahead).
“The funny part is that we didn’t even realize that we were getting close to the teams above us, because we were focusing on the teams catching up to us,” noted left wing Milan Lucic.
There is no let up for the Bruins for the rest of the month with nine more games in March. They host the Sabres on St. Patrick’s Day (7:30, NBCSN) then head out for a three-game road trip (Ottawa, Florida and Tampa Bay). It is a grueling stretch but if the B’s have proven anything in this particular era, it’s that they play their best hockey when it’s needed most.