(Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)
It’s American Thanksgiving today, and things have recently begun to get better for the Boston Bruins. Last night’s 3-2 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils gave the Bruins three straight wins for the first time this season. With the win, the Bruins record sits at 9-7-4 and has them in fourth place in the Atlantic Division.
Solid rookie production
One of the main, if not the main storyline heading into the season was the presence of rookies in the Bruins lineup. Those expectations have been met. Four main guys have stood out in particular; Danton Heinen, Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, and Charlie McAvoy. These four guys make up half of the Bruins top eight scorers at this points. Heinen has 11 points, McAvoy and DeBrusk each have ten points, while Bjork has nine. The production from these guys has come in 20 games or less as well.
Staying afloat in a hectic season thus far would be really tough if the rookie presence wasn’t in this Bruins lineup. The youth movement is off to a flying start, with multiple rookies reasonably in the mix for the Calder Memorial Trophy, as there is a lot of hockey left.
Steady backup goaltending
One big problem with the Bruins last year was the insecurity of the backup goalie position. That problem seems to have resolved itself as Anton Khudobin is playing excellent. Tuukka Rask has struggled a bit to start the year on top of some concussion troubles, so Khudobin has been forced to step up a bit more than he may have expected.
Khudobin boasts an impressive start to the 2017-2018 season with a 6-0-2 record, 2.13 GAA, and .938 save percentage. His 2.13 GAA is good for third in the NHL, and his .938 save percentage is the NHL’s best.
A huge part of what a backup goaltender’s role is to provide stability and Anton Khudobin has done just that and then some.
Plenty of capable AHL depth
Due to a plethora of injured players, AHL depth has been tested for the Bruins. So far, from Providence, we’ve already seen Danton Heinen, who appears to have secured a full-time NHL role now, Rob O’Gara, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik, Sean Kuraly, Jordan Szwarz, Kenny Agostino, and Zane McIntyre. Good lord. Some have seen more times than other, and none of these guys have really had disastrous stints with the big club. These players have seen 69 games of combined NHL action through 20 regular season games for the team as a whole.
It was fair to expect heading into the 2017-2018 season that the Providence Bruins were going to be stacked, and the players previously mentioned have delivered in their various roles in their call-ups.
Trends like these will need to continue if the Bruins want to make up ground in the Atlantic division and hopefully make the playoffs for a second straight year.