We are now through the first 32 games of the season, or about 39 percent. The Boston Bruins currently sit in second place in the Northeast Division, four points behind the Buffalo Sabres, and are fifth in the Eastern Conference.
So far the season hasn't exactly been what Bruins fans expected. After finishing with the second most points last year (just one point behind the San Jose Sharks for the most in the league) and making it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1999, hopes for this season were very high.
The Bruins team hadn't changed very much from last season. The key departure was Phil Kessel who was the leading scorer for the Bruins last year. The B's traded Kessel to Toronto for a 2009 first and second round draft pick and a 2010 first round draft pick.
Aside from that, this team was the same and looked like they were primed for a great season and deep playoff run. But the season didn't get off to such a hot start as they started out just 8-8-4.
Since that start, however, they have 8-2-2 to improve their record to 16-10-6.
There have been many different factors of prominence so far during this season. One is the penalty kill. The Bruins had one of the best penalty kills in the league last year. They ranked 12th with an 82 percent kill.
This year has been much the same. Right now they lead the league in penalty kill, killing off 86 percent of the penalties. This has been key in some of their victories. The good thing is the Bruins are a very disciplined team and don't take many penalties to begin with.
As most will tell you, special teams is a key when it to comes to hockey. While the penalty kill has been great, the power play has struggled mightily.
Last year the Bruins' power play was fourth in the league. They were scoring on the power play 23 percent of the time, finishing with 74 goals on the year.
This year they have taken a complete 180. Through the first 32 games their power play is 25th in the league. They are just 17 percent on the power play and have scored a mere 20 goals.
The Bruins' power play has to improve if they want to have a chance to jump ahead of the Sabres and take over first place in the division. Teams that can score on the power play are able to win key games.
The Bruins have a great team that can accomplish this. The team just needs to get on the right page when they are out there. They don't seem to get enough shots on net during the pp, and this is a big reason why they aren't scoring.
If the Bruins want to improve, they must pepper the goalie with shots constantly. Eventually they are going to get a tip in or a deflection. The opposing goalie is bound to kick out the shots. He can't hold onto every shot which will give great rebound opportunities.
Generating traffic in front of the net is of utmost importance. If you are able to screen the goalie it keeps him from having a good look at the puck, giving players more time to pick their spots.
I fully expect the Bruins' power play to improve, and when it does they will find themselves once again close to the top of the Eastern Conference.
And playing great hockey as well.
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