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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Boston Bruins heating up as mid-way point in the season approaches

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Bianca Oppedisano
Caricature of Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

Going into the holidays, many were beginning to question whether the Boston Bruins were going to pose any sort of threat in the Eastern Conference, as it seemed they were struggling to stay above the playoff line. Then, COVID-19 plagued the Bruins and put them in quarantine for two weeks. Many were beginning to lose hope that the season could be salvaged. However, it seemed like that break was exactly what this team needed, as the Bruins have been on fire putting up a 10–3–1 record since their return to action. So, what are some of the keys to the Bruins success of late?
Goaltending
During the Bruins’ hot streak, they were given the news that longtime Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask, will be available to return after rehabbing from offseason hip surgery. Many, including myself, were a bit frustrated that Rask’s return would result in the Bruins having to send Jeremy Swayman down to Providence, R.I. after posting solid numbers in his rookie season, but unfortunately his two-way contract means that he is the only goaltender that could have been sent down without having to clear waivers.
Rask has been far from stellar since his return, winning just two of his four starts and posting a .844 save percentage in those games. However, it has been the Bruins offseason addition of Linus Ullmark who has impressed recently. In the month of January, Ullmark has been a workhorse for the Bruins posting a 7–1–1 record and has been one of the biggest reasons the Bruins are back to climbing the standings.
Line Changes
At the beginning of this great run of play by the Bruins, head coach Bruce Cassidy finally decided that it was time to split up the perfection line and put David Pastrnak with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula. In the beginning of the season, Bruins right winger Craig Smith was kept fairly quiet, but since he was switched to the top line, Smith nearly doubled his season’s production putting up six of his 13 points in just the month of January alone.
This switch also woke up the likes of Pastrnak and rejuvenated Hall’s play as well. In December, Pastrnak was only able to muster two points in seven games, but since being put on the second line he has put up 17 points in 14 games in January, a significant improvement. Hall’s December nearly mirrored Pastrnak’s as he only put up three points in seven games. He improved substantially when paired with Pastrnak in January, putting up 13 points in 14 games. It is easy to see that the offensive production has improved mightily since these line changes and I don’t see the perfection line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Pastrnak being reunited anytime soon.
Through 40 games in the season, the Bruins currently sit in the final wild card spot but have quite the cushion between them and the nearest team in the standings below them. Boston is now making a push to potentially threaten the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the division as they are just four points ahead of Boston with a game in hand. If the Bruins continue their great play of late, they will undoubtedly make a push for one of the top three spots in the Atlantic Division and pose a serious threat come playoff time.

About the Contributor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator