As the calendar turns and a new month begins, the Boston Bruins find themselves in an interesting spot. Currently sitting 4th in the East, the Bruins have put together an impressive record of 13-2-2, and sit 1 point back of the Conference / Northeast Division leading Montreal Canadiens (!).
By way of context, the Bruins have 3 games in hand on the Habs, having played a league low 17 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs (6th in the East) and Philadelphia Flyers (9th), on the flip side, have played a league high 22 games. Therefore, despite their actual place in the standings, the Bruins winning percentage slots them 2nd overall in the league behind Chicago.
While it’s nice to have those games in hand on teams both above and below them in the standings, everyone knows that those points remain in the realm of potentiality until W’s are added to the record books. At the same time, a relatively light schedule to date will surely turn into a grind at some point, as the Bruins remaining 31 games must be squeezed in between now and April 27th.
Well, that grind begins now for the Bruins. In the month of March alone, the Bruins have 17 games on tap, and they will not enjoy 2 days off in a row until the 28th and 29th of the month.
Below is a handy breakdown of the Bruins schedule for March, followed by a little analysis of what’s to come.
|OFF||vs TB||vs MTL||OFF||at WSH||OFF||vs TOR|
|OFF||vs PHI||OFF||at OTT||at PITT||OFF||vs FLA|
|OFF||vs WSH||at PITT||OFF||at WPG||OFF||at OTT|
|OFF||at TOR||OFF||vs TOR||OFF||vs MTL||OFF|
|OFF||at PHI||at BUF|
- The Bruins will play 8 games at home and 9 on the road, including a month-high 4-game road trip during the middle week of the month.
- Boston will not play more than 2 games in a row at home.
- 8 games will be played vs Northeast Division opponents, 5 games will be played vs the Southeast, and 4 vs the Atlantic.
- Boston will play 4 sets of back to backs, the first at home (TB, MTL), the second on the road (at OTT, at PITT), the third a split (WSH, at PITT), with a fourth to end the month on the road (at PHI, at BUF).
- Friday will be a constant day off, no doubt spurring at least 5 spontaneous Rebecca Black sing-offs in the locker room.
- Saturday nights, however, are booked solid, including an appearance on Hockey Night in Canada vs the Maple Leafs.
In short, it’s a jam packed March for the Bruins, one that will go a long way in determining exactly where this club stands.
While their record through 17 games is impressive, an historic 93.9% success rate on the penalty kill is certainly helping the cause, and it’ll be interesting to see if they can sustain it, or what kind of effect a drop off may have on their ability to close out games. This is magnified when you consider that the Bruins have less than a 1 goal per game advantage over their opponents to date (0.82), as compared to the Blackhawks, for example, who currently boast an advantage of 1.4 goals per game.
A slip up on the PK, compounded by an ever-awful power play (13%, 26th in the NHL) that may not be improved upon too much in light of reduced practice time, and the Bruins and their fans may be poised for a bit of a reality check in the coming month.
Perhaps that long-awaited breakout from Tyler Seguin will help to mitigate any regression in this area.
Either way, there will be no shortage of Bruins hockey to enjoy this month, and the action gets going this weekend with a couple home games against two 2011 playoff foes in the Lightning and the Habs.