The Boston Bruins have been in a tear since their abysmal 4-7-0 record in October.
Since their game with the Florida Panthers on December 23rd, the Bruins' record is 23-9-1. An improvement of 19-2-1 in November and so far in December.
In November, the power of the Mo resulted in a near-perfect month, earning 12 wins out of 13 games, and in the lone loss, still earned a point in a shootout. During that same month, they rode a 10-game win streak.
While this month isn't quite as successful, it still is a shining record of 8-2-0 with a current six-game win streak on the line.
With two games still left for the calendar year, regardless of the results, the month can be deemed a success.
But the Bruins will not strive for just a success. They want to end the year with a bang.
Let's see what got the Bruins in their turnaround.
To say the hangover is over is a foregone conclusion. Now the question is: Can they keep it up?
So far offensively, the Bruins have the best goal differential in the league with a +56. The next best team in the league in that category are the Detroit Red Wings with a +33.
They are the tops in the league for goals for (119) and in goals against (63).
While the Bruins aren't the best on the man-advantage, they aren't the worst either. A vast improvement over the last couple of years.
Their penalty kill is currently second-best in the league and their 5-on-5 goals for/ggainst ratio is tops in the league, which has been a constant in the past two seasons.
The success of the Bruins collapsing on the net when the opposition is attacking and giving them the perimeter has given the goalies an easier time.
Tim Thomas stated in many occasions that because of his defense, he can play the way that he wants to play, and that is aggressively. This system allows him to move out of the net and remove the angles to make the net smaller for the opponents to shoot at.
Rask plays a more traditional butterfly style, but it is working for him. The same thing, however, applies that he has an easier time with most shots coming from the perimeter.
With the Bruins collapsing, it provides an added by-product: rebound control. With the Bruins controlling what happens in front of the net, it limits rebounds from getting to the opponents and makes it an easier time to get the puck out of their zone.
Disciplined play has been proven to be a success factor in the Bruins' play. When they played where they were making a parade to the penalty box, they generally lost the game. When they played smart and did not allow their opponents the man advantage, they won the vast majority of their games.
This should go without saying, but the element is there and is worth mentioning.
Between the Pipes
Both Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask are playing very well as of late. When they do lose, it isn't by much. They've only had one loss with more than a three-goal difference this season. A large reason for that is the tandem goaltending provided by the Vezina trophy winner Thomas and who will, in all likelihood, be the future of the last line of defense in Rask.
Rask just completed his second shutout in a row and has not been scored on since the third period in his loss to the Winnipeg Jets. So far, he is on a 155:10 shutout streak.
While the injury bug did make its rounds throughout the NHL, the Bruins were no exception. The bug, however, was a minor one and what injuries that faced the Bruins were either minor short-term ones or ones that the depth of the roster could handle.
At the End of the Day
Call it what you will, but the Bruins have proven that the beginning of the season was a slow start. So far, they show no signs of letting up and as long as they can stay healthy and play smart, they are in the playoffs and will make another bid for Lord Stanley's mug.
This is Cory Ducey saying "Hit Hard, Keep It Clean and Merry Christmas to all".