Boston Bruins. A team synonymous with the ever cliché “blue collar” label. Yet this can not be said more accurately about a bunch of guys than it can about the Bruins. Sure, as fans who watch night in and night out, we can try and quantify a guy like Patrice Bergeron’s intangibles, but the truth is this: this team cares little for personal accolades, as long as the big Cup is ours.
Lets take a peak at those numbers that put us in position to win the Cup.
This ranks us 9th in the NHL, yet only 8 behind the Presidents Trophy winner Canucks. Our point total actually ranks higher, tied with Tampa for 7th at 103.
Wins in Regulation: 43
I didn’t calculate every teams WIR, but I did a rough estimate of the league, and Boston finished 3 regulation wins behind Vancouver (46). Philly (41), San Jose (38) and Nashville (36) round out the top 5. Granted, the Bruins 3-11 overtime mark spoke of their futility of scoring 4-4, but that’s a discussion for a different day.
Shootout Record: 2-6
I’ll keep this section short because of my abhorrent disdain for these stupid 1 vs. 1 competition, but it’s telling that 6 of 11 overtime loses came in a shootout. Seeing how this team persivered during the playoffs in overtime, I dare say they’d have fared better with say, 10 minutes of OT and no stinking shootout.
Let me reiterate here that we all know our team has some of the most talented and hard working NHLers there is, but lets not forget when the final tally is in, you’ve usually got to skip ahead a page or two to find Bruins players on stats sheets. This particular aberration is something we’ve seen for years out of the Claude Julien system, yet they seem to hover near the top of the league in scoring. This is based on having the burden fall to many skilled and veteran players. The lack of ego’s on this team is surprising of a North American professional sport.
Goals: 244 (Ranks them 5th in the league and only 14 behind the Canucks)
5 on 5 goals: 177 (You’re probably sick of hearing it, but the Bruins were the best 5v5 team in the NHL)
Empty Net Goals: 12 (You may be thinking who the hell cares but in all actuality, the majority of these goals don’t mean much aside from a notch on the score sheet. The B’s ranked 4th)
5 on 4 goals: 36 (This number sucks as a fan. You want the 5th best team in the league to score better than 14% of it’s goals on the power play. Heck, they scored 9 short handed goals… and 12 empty netters… that’s a total of 21 goals… only 15 less than when they had A MAN ADVANTAGE).
I digress. This years Bruins team was one of exceptions. With only 2 players in the top 50 in scoring (Lucic and Krejci tied with about a million guys at 40th with 62 points) it’s a wonder this team put up as many goals as they did. Granted, this team runs like a roller coaster, with huge weeks and then a stretch where they disappear.
To me, though, the most important stats are the defensive statistics. All teams with depth like the Bruins are going to score, but it takes a special team to put up the defensive numbers they put up year in and year out. They only allowed 2.30 goals against per game this year. Good for 2nd. This system becomes more evident when you look back a few years. 2009-10, 2.33 goals against (2nd in the league). 2008-09, 2.32 goals against (1st in the league). These numbers speak for themselves, but without defensive commitment right from the top of the lineup to your 7th defense man, teams like the Bruins don’t exist.
Now, there’s plenty of other information out there we can draw upon to make the same point. We all know the Bruins are a great hockey team. For a period now, they’re the best of the bet. This being said, we can already see NHL teams posturing for free agency, and with our shorten off season well under way, we’re not as far off from the 2011-12 season as we may think.
With the large majority of this team returning next year, and the ability they have to plug guys in for the few free agents they have, it’s not hard to see them replicating a season similar to last, and making another run at the cup.
Instead of telling you what I think the Bruins will look like come next season, I’d invite you all to discuss in the comments how you think this team stacks up next season, and can they continue their run of dominance with such little fan fare at the “elite player” level?
Let us know!