It was only 15 days ago that the Boston Bruins’ new CEO, Charlie Jacobs, tore a strip off his struggling hockey team.
“I’d say without question this has been a very disappointing year,” Jacobs said. “It’s unacceptable the way that this team has performed given the amount of time, money and effort that’s been spent on this team.”
At the time, the B’s were 19-15-6, one point behind Toronto for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. And such was Jacobs’ displeasure at being outside the playoff picture that coach Claude Julien’s job security was actually being questioned in the media.
Things, suffice to say, have changed in the 15 days since. Heading into tonight’s game in Colorado, the Bruins have won six of seven and, yes, if the playoffs started today, they’d be in them.
Simply put, the B’s are playing better hockey. In their last seven games, they’ve possessed the puck at a higher rate than they did over their first 40; defensively, Julien’s praising the “layers” again; and perhaps most importantly, they’ve received far better goaltending from Tuukka Rask, who, after finishing December with a save percentage of just .896, has allowed only nine goals in his last six starts.
Also helping Boston? The collapse of the Maple Leafs and a Florida Panthers mini-slump.
The B’s aren’t home and free yet. They could still miss the playoffs with a record of, say, 16-16-3 in their final 35 games.
But making the playoffs seems a lot more doable today than it did a couple of weeks ago.
In fact, it almost seems easy for a team as good as Boston.
Things can change quickly in the NHL.