Now that we're one quarter of our way through the regular season--where did the time go!?!--the Bruins sit at 5th in the Eastern Conference, and 3rd in the Atlantic Division. While the journey over the last 50 days has had its ups and downs, how do the first 20 games of the year stand up to recent seasons?
Boychuk was traded. Spooner was sent down. Chara got injured. Krug got injured. Miller, Warsofsky, and Krejci--also went out. The collapse against the Minnesota Wild (#ItWasThreeOne), followed soon after by the back-to-back hilariously awful efforts in Toronto and Montreal. Random names like Griffith, Fraser, Morrow, Trotman, Warsofsky, Khokhlachev, all of a sudden becoming elements on the team. They all stack up to a very uneasy first six weeks.
|Season||W||L||OT||PTS||GF||GA||+/-||1st 20 Pt. %||Final Pt. %||Diff.|
Turns out as frustrating as this season has seemed, it isn't even close to the Bruins worst season over the last six years. Their 12 wins is just two games less than their best season, with 14 in 2012-13. Their 24 points is 4 points better than the 20 points in 2009-10, for a team that ended up being one overtime goal away from going to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The main difference is the scoring differential. Five out of the six seasons prior to this year, the Bruins have held a double-digit goal differential. Yet including last night's win over the Blues, the Bruins have scored just four more goals than they've given up. Certainly it doesn't help that they gave up 11 goals in a 24-hour span last week, but the numbers are the numbers. The scoring gap is at its worst since the fall of 2009, even before Thomas was injured, and while Tuukka was a wee little rookie.
The only real concern from the data pulled is that the Bruins typically start strong through American Thanksgiving, and then plateau. With their inevitable dip somewhere between January 15th and February 20th, the Bruins' season-long point percentage has finished lower than it was after 20 games in four of the last six seasons. One of the exceptions being last year, when the top two lines were wagons, and they got a nice consolation prize in a President's Trophy.
But the lull may have already passed. Krejci has been in and out of the lineup. Krug is still not 100% yet. Miller is close but not quite, McQuaid is out with an undisclosed injury, Chara is still a couple weeks away, and a handful of rookies are still getting acclimated to the NHL speed and style. Come December, health and experience could return to the team, and the Bruins could thrive while many hockey squads are trudging through the dog days of winter.
So is it as bad as it has seemed? No. History shows it. And that goal differential that does seem out of sorts? The Bruins and Montreal have nearly identical GF and GA numbers, and their Differential is the same. The B's are just one win behind Tampa. Look for water to seek its level when Z shows up.
Ultimately, the Bruins need to be one of the best three teams in the Atlantic come April. And even though the Bolts and Canadiens have started out strong, Boston is still a better team than Detroit, Toronto and Ottawa. Unless the team suffers a major setback in the coming few months, step away from the panic button. Because they've won as many games in the first 20 as they did the year they hoisted Lord Stanley.