The Boston Bruins are 4-0 since returning from the All-Star break. They have won five straight games and earned 20 out of 28 possible points since Jan. 1. After hitting a rough patch in the previous months, the Bruins are back on track.
The 2019-20 Boston Bruins Have Bounced Back
In the four games since returning from the NHL All-Star break, the Bruins are 4-0 and have outscored opponents 14-3. Many of the problems that plagued the Bruins heading into the All-Star break appear to have been fixed upon their return.
In December and January, Halak posted a .908 save percentage in his 14 appearances. Lower than his .929 save percentage in his previous 10 appearances. Rask started the season well posting a .934 save percentage in his first 18 appearances but that dropped to a .928 percentage in December and January.
While those are formidable numbers for both Rask and Halak, a slight dip in performance in net factored into the Bruins struggles.
Since returning from the All-Star break, Rask has stopped 62 of 63 shots in two games. Halak has stopped 46 of 48 shots in two games. The goaltending has been lights out since the break.
Boston Bruins Team Defence and Physicality
The Bruins young defencemen have stepped up lately. Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo have played exceptional on the back end and have increased their physicality. There were a lot of questions about the lack of physicality on this Bruins team heading into the All-Star break. The team heard the criticism and put it to bed in the first game back.
The Bruins took on the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg last week and it was a heavyweight bout. The Bruins took 39 minutes in penalties, 15 of which were from Brad Marchand, Karson Kuhlman, and Carlo for fighting.
“I was skating out for the 3rd & laughed out loud at the bench when I looked up & did the math that we had 39 penalty mins in 40 mins of hockey,” Mcavoy said. “I’d never been a part of one of those.”
The Bruins answered the bell immediately and have shown their physicality in the following games. Carlo and Mcavoy laid tone-setting hits on Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele and Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews in the last four games. Additionally, Mcavoy scored his first goal of the season, an overtime winner against the Blackhawks. The Bruins are playing with bite and intensity again.
The Boston Bruins play on special teams has been tremendous all season long, but even more so after the break. They took a top-five power play and a top-ten penalty kill into their 10 days off and came back even better.
The Boston Bruins have scored six power-play goals on 19 chances since returning. They had six goals on 14 chances before going 0-for-5 on the power play against Chicago. The Bruins now have the second-best power play in the league at 26.4 percent.
The penalty kill for Boston had been a perfect 14-for-14 before allowing a goal by Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat. Despite that, Boston has killed 17 of 18 penalties since the break. Giving Boston the third-best penalty kill in the league at 84.2 percent.
“We need to utilize all of the options and when we do that, it really puts the penalty kill on their heels a little bit, and then things open up.” Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said. “You take what’s open and don’t force plays. When you go back to that good things always happen.”
The Bruins have gotten back to the team they were at the beginning of the season… a dominant one. Some of it can be attributed to simplifying their game and some of it is due to the rest they got. A 10-day break was incredibly beneficial for this Bruins team. Not only did it let some players heal physically, but the break also helped them refocus mentally for the final stretch run.
A veteran team like Boston knows what’s ahead and how they have to play. With the Tampa Bay Lightning closing the gap for the division lead, the Bruins seem to be playing with more urgency. If they keep it up they are one of the favourites for a shot at the Stanley Cup.