The Boston Bruins currently sit in fourth place in the NHL’s Atlantic Divison. Over 49 games played, the Bruins have gathered 59 points. If the playoffs started today, the black and gold would get the first Wild Card spot and take on the New York Islanders in the first round. Given how the season began, the Bruins should be happy with where they are in the standings but know there is more work to be done.

High expectations

Coming off a somewhat unexpected 2017-18 season where the Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in a thrilling seven-game series, fans had high hopes for the new year. However, it was anything but smooth sailing from the start. Injuries were an early issue as the team never got fully healthy until January.

The Bruins opened up the season in Washington to take on the defending Stanley Cup champions. They proceeded to lose 7-0 in embarrassing fashion. Over the next month or so, the B’s were extremely inconsistent. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak battled for the starting goaltender position while the offense didn’t always play up to its potential.

One of the more disappointing parts of the season is how the team has played against weaker opponents. The Bruins have struggled at times against teams who are out of the playoff picture such as the Flyers, Devils and Red Wings. Beating teams of this caliber is essential to gaining ground on the Maple Leafs and Lightning.

The offense

All that being said, there is much to be pleased with. The top line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron have been producing at a high rate. Pastrnak is headed to the All-Star Game with a team-leading 27 goals and 56 points. Meanwhile, David Krejci is returning to his usual form with 30 assists on a line that has seen many changes so far this season. The fourth line, headed by Sean Kuraly, has been a major factor for the Bruins as of late. Kuraly, Chris Wagner and Noel Acciari have combined for 29 points.

Strong defensive play

On defense, which now has, believe it or not, SEVEN healthy players, the Bruins have excelled all season long. Headed by captain Zdeno Chara, they are currently tied for the second fewest goals allowed all season with 128.

Jan 1, 2019; South Bend, IN, USA; Boston Bruins center Sean Kuraly (52) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period in the 2019 Winter Classic hockey game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for the Bruins, Rask was concussed in a game against the Rangers before the bye week. He was playing his best hockey of the season in January before the injury. In seven games he accumulated a 1.75 goals against average and a .941 save percentage.

Looking ahead

Head coach Bruce Cassidy’s team has fared well against potential playoff opponent and division rival Toronto. However, ending a 14 game losing streak to the Washington Capitals and beating the high powered Tampa Bay Lightning is going to be a must for the black and gold if they want to contend for a championship.

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