Greatest crew in NHL historical past? Bruins might be a part of dialog

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The Boston Bruins are enjoying at a tempo by no means seen earlier than within the NHL.(Credit score: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports activities)

With a 4-2 win towards the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, the Boston Bruins won their sixth game in a row, giving them 10 wins of their final 11 video games and enhancing their document to a stunning 38-5-4.

Take a second to soak this in: if the Bruins preserve this tempo, they’d creator arguably the best common season in NHL historical past.

With 80 factors in 47 video games performed, the 2022-23 Bruins are the fastest team ever to reach that mark and at the moment boast a factors proportion of .851. That places Boston on tempo for 66 wins and 140 factors, which might break the wins document (62) held by the 1995-96 Detroit Purple Wings and 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning, and the factors document (132) held by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, who completed the feat in 80 video games.

Solely the 1976-77 (.825) and 1977-78 (.806) Canadiens maintained points percentages above 80 for a full season. Crucially, these groups had been iterations of a dynastic Habs run the place they gained 4 straight Stanley Cups and 10 of 15 championships from 1965 to 1979.

This offers context in two instructions. First, the Bruins are additionally flirting with placing collectively the best regular-season run we’ve ever seen, barring some nitpicking about ties versus “loser factors.” Second, and most crucially, they’ll discover themselves in a distinct place in historical past in the event that they win or lose a Stanley Cup.

Right here’s a breakdown of the place this Bruins crew stands and the hurdles they need to clear to rub elbows with the greats by really profitable all of it.

Why the 2022-23 Bruins are so dominant

Right here is the place the Bruins rank in a number of key classes league vast:

GF/GP: T1 (3.81)

GA/GP: 1 (2.02)

PP%: 2 (27.2)

PK%: 1 (86.8)

In relation to what makes this Bruins crew particular, some components are acquainted. David Pastrnak ranks far forward of different Bruins in scoring — second total in targets (40) and third total in factors (69) — however Boston is having fun with super two-way play from the same old suspects, together with Brad Marchand (45 factors), returning acquainted face David Krejci (39) and Patrice Bergeron (38). In recent times, opponents have realized to worry Boston’s potent energy play and that’s carried over to this season, whereas their penalty kill is as good as ever.

That stated, there are actually some key variations that set this crew aside. A couple of highlights embrace:

  • A training change, and perhaps an improve?: You possibly can debate the improve half (Bruce Cassidy’s having fun with largely promising success in Vegas), however Jim Montgomery’s a worthy Jack Adams candidate both method.

  • A stunning ascension in web: Linus Ullmark developed a stable fame with Buffalo, however one season in, the Bruins may need questioned their four-year, $20-million funding within the goalie. Now he seems to be like a possible steal. Ullmark at the moment leads the NHL in wins (25) whereas producing the perfect save proportion amongst workhorse goalies (.938). Spit out a “fancy stat,” and Ullmark possible shines. This Hockey Viz chart offers a graphical take a look at how incredible Boston’s goaltending has been.

  • Initially, the Bruins appeared to overpay for Hampus Lindholm, who appeared on observe to be thought of “once-great.” About that: he’s a credible Norris Trophy dark horse candidate this season.

  • Once more, it’s good to get a robust heart again, and Krejci’s delivered regardless of a yr out of the NHL.

Hockey followers are used to good Bruins groups — usually fairly good ones — however this one’s deeper than ever, with a league-best eight gamers with 10-plus targets. As painful as it’s to be a celebration pooper, there are a couple of causes keepers of the cup shouldn’t chisel the Bruins’ title on the Stanley Cup simply but.

Potential bumps within the highway

First, it’s essential to a minimum of take a second to keep in mind that as promising because the tandem of Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman is, it’s an unproven duo within the postseason. Generally that shock Cinderella run goes pumpkin below the tough lights of the playoffs. There are additionally sure indicators {that a} crew may decelerate. Past presumably unsustainable save percentages, the Bruins’ crew capturing proportion may cool.

The largest bumps within the highway aren’t in regards to the Bruins, nevertheless, however as an alternative in regards to the path forward. Because of the NHL’s present playoff format, Boston’s second-round opponent would both be a crew tied for second within the NHL in factors (Toronto Maple Leafs at 66) or a crew that’s been to a few straight Stanley Cup Closing collection, profitable two (Tampa Bay Lightning, 61 factors).

After all, the Lightning can spin some unhappy yarns about how a traditionally nice regular-season crew might not even make it that far. In 2018-19, the Lightning generated the fourth most standings factors (128) and fifth-highest factors proportion (.781) in NHL historical past. Then they failed to win a single playoff game.

Latest NHL historical past offers different examples of playoff letdowns. Final season’s Florida Panthers gained the Presidents’ Trophy by amassing 122 factors, but their second-round exit prompted painful modifications they usually face a steep climb to even make the playoffs this season. The 2009-10 Washington Capitals generated 121 factors, however couldn’t remedy a red-hot Jaroslav Halak.

Generally, you run right into a sizzling goalie or horrible damage luck.

The Bruins should management what they will, and the perfect recommendation would possible be to defy Marchand and provides veterans relaxation, from Bergeron to Krejci to much less apparent decisions corresponding to Marchand, Lindholm and Taylor Corridor.

Additionally, if there are alternatives on the commerce deadline, the Bruins must go for it. Solely Bergeron and Krejci know what number of years they’ve left, and even Marchand is in some way already 34 years previous.

Boston has the eleventh strongest scheduled for the rest of the season, per Tankathon. That does not essentially imply all that a lot for a crew nearly as good as these Bruins, nevertheless it will not be a cake stroll to the end line.

How Bruins evaluate to among the greatest groups in NHL historical past

Finally, we don’t know if these Bruins will win the Stanley Cup. Let’s rapidly evaluate them to among the greatest groups in NHL historical past:

2022-23 Bruins: 38-5-4 for 80 factors in 47 video games (.851 factors proportion) with a plus-83 objective differential.

Nineteen Seventies Canadiens: The 1976-77 team generated the best-ever record at 60-8-12 for 132 factors in 80 video games (.825) with a plus-216 objective differential.

Mix the sheer variety of Stanley Cup wins with the limiting issue of ties, and most would give the height variations of those Canadiens groups the sting over the 2022-23 Bruins.

Bobby Orr period Bruins: The 1971-72 Bruins generated 121 factors in 78 video games (.776) with a plus-126 objective differential.

When Orr was wholesome, the Bruins gained two Stanley Cups in three seasons and put collectively a run of dominance that will outshine these Bruins. This yr’s crew might nonetheless keep within the argument with a presumably increased factors proportion, although.

Nineteen Eighties Islanders: The 1981-82 Isles went 54-16-10 for 118 factors in 80 video games (.738) with a plus-135 objective differential.

No crew has gained three straight Stanley Cups because the dynastic Islanders gained 4 straight from 1980-83. Maybe historians might wrestle with evaluating one single transcendent Bruins crew with the dynasty Islanders, and likewise the crew that wrestled the torch away from Lengthy Island.

Nineteen Eighties Oilers: The 1983-84 model reached 119 factors (.744) with a plus-132 objective differential, and in contrast to in 1985-86, gained a Stanley Cup.

By profitable 4 Stanley Cups with Wayne Gretzky and one with out him, the Oilers be a part of the Islanders as groups whose total dominance is plain. The “best participant of all time” factor might nudge bar debates towards Edmonton over Boston even when the B’s find yourself with way more standings factors.

Yzerman-Lidstrom Period Purple Wings: They’d the greatest season to by no means win a Stanley Cup in 1995-96, recording the second most regular-season factors with 131. They’d 116 factors and 115 factors, respectively, throughout their 2002 and 2008 championship seasons.

Runs like these of the Purple Wings possible shaped concepts a couple of Presidents’ Trophy “curse,” as they did not win the Cup 4 occasions throughout that period once they led the NHL in factors. So, if the Bruins can end sturdy and win a Stanley Cup, there could possibly be an argument that this yr’s crew had a better peak than any of these Purple Wings groups.

– – –

Like most nice sports activities debates, arguing the 2022-23 Bruins versus historical past’s best groups will come all the way down to nostalgia and fandom as a lot as stats themselves. After all, the Bruins want to truly maintain this tempo and win a Stanley Cup to drum up these arguments, and even the icons of the game will admit that’s simpler stated than achieved.

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