The TD Garden has not been kind to the Boston Bruins this season.
Entering their most recent five-game homestand, they were a measly 1-4-1 in Boston. Thanks to their road form (6-2-0), the Bruins were in a position to right the ship with some winnable matchups in their personal house of horrors. It was arguably their most important stretch of games to date with American Thanksgiving fast approaching.
Thanks to their 2-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, the Bruins finished with a 3-2-0 record and improved to a more respectable 4-6-1 mark on home ice. More importantly, they secured two crucial victories against division rivals in Detroit and Toronto.
With five of their next six games away from home, Boston did themselves a favor by taking care of business…at least for the most part. Here’s a look at some of the numbers behind the Bruins’ last five games.
Heavy Hitters On Offense
David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson are one, two and three in points for the Black and Gold this season. It’s not a coincidence they were the major players on offense for Boston’s success.
Krejci went cold for a while after topping the League scoresheet for the better part of a month. After a quiet game against Colorado, the Czech center piled up a goal and four assists in the last four games to reclaim the early season form he was in. Krejci currently sits in a four-way tie for sixth in the NHL with 22 points.
Bergeron continued his good run as well. Boston’s second-line center recorded a point in every game during the Bruins’ homestand, extending his overall point streak to seven games (three goals, five assists).
Give-and-go with David Krejci and Loui Eriksson gets the hat trick. He's playing at a very high level right now. Bruins up 4-2
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) November 20, 2015
Eriksson had himself a whale of a homestand. The winger recorded his first hat trick in the Black and Gold against Minnesota, scoring Boston’s last three goals on the evening. He scored six points and was a plus-six in five games.
Combined, they accounted for seven of the Bruins’ 15 goals over the five-game stretch.
Boston has been a special teams enigma all season. They entered the homestand with the best power play and the worst penalty kill in the League.
I can explain many things. But a Bruins power play at 34.5 pct on Nov. 20 is beyond the scope of human imagination.
— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) November 20, 2015
The man advantage continues to produce at a high level as Claude Julien’s bunch went 4/11 when given a man power advantage. The Bruins have now scored a power-play goal in eight of their 11 home games this season and are led by Bergeron’s 12 points on the man advantage. Both he and Eriksson tallied PPGs during the homestand and are tied for the team-lead with five.
The penalty kill also showed some signs of progress. They killed off 12 of 15 opportunities a man down but allowed two crucial PPGs to San Jose to effectively kill any hopes of a comeback. However, they were perfect on the PK three times in five games. Compared to allowing a power-play goal in four of their first six home games, it’s a sign of progress.
The Bruins still finished the homestand with the League’s best PP (33.9%) and worst PK (72.5%).
Third Period Lockdown
Boston’s third-period defense on home ice was putrid the first six games. They had allowed 11 goals to opponents in the final 20 minutes and could not hold leads in most games.
This homestand was much different. The Bruins allowed just 11 goals in total, which is a marked improvement over the 28 they conceded in their first six. More importantly, the Black and Gold let just two slip past them in the third period. It’s a testament to the work that Tuukka Rask and Jonas Gustavsson have done in between the pipes to at least give the Bruins a chance to fight their way back.
After spending much of the early season near the bottom of the League in goals allowed/game, Julien’s bunch are improving on their back end. For the first time this season, their GA/G number is under three (2.95) thanks to the defensive work on this most recent stretch of games. Perhaps the return of Dennis Seidenberg is starting to take full effect.
The Road Ahead
Boston will play six of their next eight games on the road, including divisional matchups against the Leafs, Red Wings and Canadiens. Their two home games will be difficult as the red-hot New York Rangers and Nashville Predators come calling. They will also make their annual trip to Western Canada to battle the Connor McDavid-less Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.
As of right now the Bruins sit closer to the bottom of the Atlantic Division (three points ahead of Buffalo and Toronto) than second-place Ottawa (four points). These are some crucial games upcoming to continue the momentum they’ve generated and climb up the Eastern Conference ladder even further.
Joe is a writer covering the Boston Bruins. He is a lifelong native of Massachusetts and is currently a content writer/manager for a newsletter at a Human Services Agency. Joe can be found on Twitter: @JoeCherryTHW