Can anyone topple the Bruins?

Written by ECA Review

Despite a stunning and uncharacteristic three-game losing streak a few days before the National Hockey League all-star break, the Boston Bruins have enjoyed an incredible steak of success.

The Bruins, under the direction of new coach Jim Montgomery, had suffered a mere seven regulation-time defeats in the team’s first 50 games, racking up a huge lead over second-place Toronto in the Atlantic Division and creating miniscule betting odds for Beantown to host a Stanley Cup parade this June.

Boston’s closest rival at the all-star break appeared to be Carolina Hurricanes, whose regulation-loss total of nine was the only other one in single digits.

Other division leaders and their loss totals were Dallas (13) and Seattle (15).

The Bruins’ roster this season isn’t much different from last year’s squad that finished 51-26-5 and lost out in the first round of the playoffs to Carolina.

The quick playoff ouster may have been the key factor in coach Bruce Cassidy’s dismissal (he wound up with Vegas Golden Knights) and Montgomery’s hiring.

The new coach had a successful stint in Dallas before an abrupt alcohol-related departure in 2019 left him on the sidelines for a couple of years. That situation is in the past, however, and the Bruins are reaping the benefits.

Led by a talented group of offensively-skilled forwards (David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Taylor Hall and David Krecji), the Bruins are solid from start to finish.

The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek supplied high praise for the team in a recent feature, writing that  “they have scoring, depth, experience, leadership, a deep one-to-six defence and the best one-two goaltending punch in the league.”

Goaltending may have been a weakness in past years, but it’s a strength this year. No. 1 guy Linus Ullmark (1.90 goals against average and a .936 save percentage, both tops in the league) is a favourite for the Vezina Trophy and his net partner Jeremy Swayman has gaudy stats, too.

Critics say that your neighbour’s grandmother might have similar numbers if they played behind a stout defence such as the Bruins have, led by Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm, the latter a first-year Bruin after signing a free-agent deal last summer.

Vegas bookies had the Bruins as pre-season’s 12th favourite to win the Stanley Cup. That sentiment has changed dramatically. The Bruins are now overwhelming favourites to win the Cup, with Carolina and defending champion Colorado Avalanche next in line.

Based on the first 50 games, it seems there’s little that can derail the Bruins from winning their first Cup since 2011. Come June, there is likely to be more than just a tea party in Boston.

Slap shots

• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “Tiger Woods recently told Golf Channel’s Morning Drive if all the pieces fall into place, he still has a shot at Nicklaus’s 18 majors. It was so inspiring, I mailed another marriage proposal to Anne Hathaway.”

• Jack Finarelli, at sports curmudgeon.com., on the future of ex-Saints’ coach and current broadcaster Sean Payton: “There is also a lot of speculation about where Sean Payton might wind up as a head coach.  I am on record saying that I hope it is somewhere – anywhere – in order to get him off TV.”

• Headline at fark.com: “Houston Texans considering uniform changes for next season. Still no word on changing out the guys wearing those uniforms for next season.”

A lament from Bob Molinaro of pilotonline.com (Hampton, Va.): “Served up for my fellow curmudgeons is a reminder that at the 2024 Paris Olympics, breakdancing will be a sport. A sport.”

• Comedy writer Gary Bachman: “Tom Brady again announced he was retiring.  I like Tom Brady but he’s no Brett Favre; Favre retired a dozen times.”

• Jack Finarelli again, on the NFL’s Pro Bowl actually featuring flag football:  “For the past decade or so, the Pro Bowl games have been almost flag football games but without the flags.”

• Another one from RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com, picking on the Leafs again, referring to the NHL’s all-star weekend: “This is when the Toronto Maple Leafs gear up for another power sprint toward their early playoff collapse.”

• From fark.com: “If Philadelphia were to lose the Super Bowl, it could still win in a way by becoming the first city to taste defeat in three straight sports championships.” (Phillies, Union-MLS).

• Comedy guy Torben Rolfsen of Vancouver: “Vancouver Canucks GM Patrick Allvin says the return in the Bo Horvat trade is the equivalent to three first-rounders. I haven’t seen accounting that creative since the last time Donald Trump filed a tax return.”

• Steve Simmons of Sunmedia.com. on the NHL Players Association replacement for executive director Don Fehr: “Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is the front-runner to take over for Fehr. The advantage of his candidacy: He has small shoes to fill.”
Care to comment? Email brucepenton2003@yahoo.ca

by Bruce Penton

About the author

ECA Review

Our newspaper is only as good as its contributors and we thank each one who submits stories, photos and opinions. If you have a news item, photos or opinion to share please submit it to office@ECAreview.com.