The Bruins are off to one of their best starts in recent memory with a 6-2-0 mark heading into November. They haven’t had six wins in their first eight games since the first owners’ lockout back in 1995.
In the debut of our new quick-hitting Off the Boards feature, we’ll take a look inside a half dozen of the reasons behind Boston’s strong start.
1. Despite their impressive record, the Bruins are just seventh in the East and are tied for the 13th most points in the league. How is that possible? The Bruins have played the fewest games of any team in the NHL with just eight contests in October. That will change quickly, with 14 games on tap in November, including three in four days later this week. If the Bruins keep up their winning ways, they’ll be soaring up the standings soon enough. They already are averaging 1.5 points a game, a 123-point pace. Only Tampa Bay at 1.5 points a game (15 points in 10 games at 7-2-1) has been picking up points at the same clip as the Bruins.
2. A big reason for the Bruins’ success in the early going this year is their work on the penalty kill. Boston ranks first in the league, killing off 93.1 percent of the power-play chances against them. Part of why they’ve been so good short-handed is that their penalty killers aren’t overworked, as the 29 times they’ve been short-handed is the second lowest total in the league (Florida 23), while the Bruins have surrendered a league-low two power play goals. The Bruins have done that with Daniel Paille a healthy scratch for the last seven games. Paille was instrumental in turning a struggling PK around when he came over from Buffalo last year, but this season Brad Marchand and Greg Campbell have combined with holdovers Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Blake Wheeler up front on the PK, while rookie Jordan Caron is a surprising leader among the forwards with an average of 2:52 of short-handed time a game.
3. Caron turns 20 on Tuesday, leaving the Bruins with just one teenager on the roster in 18-year-old Tyler Seguin. Amazingly, even with Caron hitting the big 2-0, the two rookies combined still can’t match Mark Recchi’s 42 years on this earth. Don’t know which is more impressive, Seguin and Caron already contributing at such a young age, or Recchi remaining productive at this stage of his career.
4. Dennis Seidenberg has really picked up his play in his own zone in the past week. He leads the Bruins with 23 blocked shots, with more than half of them coming in the last two games as he posted a team-high six against both Toronto and Ottawa. Against the Leafs, he also had five hits and was a plus-1, while he had one hit and a fighting major against Ottawa. Oh, and he didn’t forget about the offense either, picking up an assist in each game as well.
5. Adam McQuaid might not have the impact that Johnny Boychuk had last season after entering the lineup, but McQuaid certainly has proven he belongs in the NHL and has helped the Bruins survive without Boychuk (fractured forearm). McQuaid had a solid season debut against Toronto with two shots, two hits and a takeaway in 13:55. He picked it up even further against Ottawa, chipping in five blocked shots, two hits and a shot in 15:35. He was even in both games and has yet to commit a giveaway.
6. One area the Bruins haven’t been excelling in so far this season is in the face-off circle. Boston ranks 21st in the league in face-off percentage at just 48.6 percent. Surprisingly, Seguin is tops among the team’s centers at 51.3 percent (39-37). Campbell is the only other center with a winning mark on draw, going 50-49 (50.5 percent). The biggest surprise is that Bergeron is at just 48.1 percent (62-67) after being among the league leaders at 58.0 percent last season. Krejci brings up the rear at 58-71 (45.0 percent), perhaps a lingering effect of his wrist injury in the postseason.