Tuukka Rask improved to 10-1-0 with his third shutout of the season last night in Denver. With a .945 save percentage, the netminder’s play is a major reason the Boston Bruins are off to a 10-6-0 start, as PHT duly noted.
But don’t be mistaken, the B’s have been more than just their goalie. In their last five games, they’ve outshot their opponents by a combined margin of 192-124. Their only loss came against Montreal, which had to get a first-star performance from Carey Price, otherwise the result may have been much different.
The Bruins more than doubled the Avalanche’s shot total, 46-20.
“That’s how you win a road game — a pretty much mistake-free game,” Rask told reporters. “We kept them on the outside and really limited their scoring chances and rushes. And then we kept the puck in the offensive zone and made some plays and created chances.”
How are the B’s doing it?
Well, their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrick Bergeron and David Pastrnak has been one of the best top lines in the league, so that certainly helps. GM Don Sweeney was hoping Pastrnak could make more of an impact this season, and the 20-year-old has responded with 10 goals in his first 14 games.
“When you see a kid come in with that much potential and when he really breaks out and has a year like he’s having now, it’s a lot of fun to see it,” said Marchand, per CSN New England. “He’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time. He’s so fast and so skilled, and he does things with the puck that I don’t think opponents have seen before.”
The Bruins’ second line is pretty good itself, with David Krejci centering Ryan Spooner and David Backes. The third line of Matt Beleseky, Riley Nash and Jimmy Hayes received a ton of criticism early on, but replacing Hayes with Austin Czarnik seems to have been a good move by head coach Claude Julien. Even the fourth line of Hayes, Dominic Moore, and Sean Kuraly played well against the Avs.
As for the back end, the importance of Brandon Carlo‘s emergence cannot be understated. The 19-year-old rookie has logged 22:19 per game on the top pairing with Zdeno Chara. Carlo is a plus-11, Chara is plus-12. If not for Carlo, it’s anyone’s guess who would be playing with Chara. Bruins fans would prefer not to imagine such a scenario.
Sure, it would be nice if Colin Miller was making more of an impact — he was a healthy scratch against the Avs — but Carlo has taken a lot of that urgency away. Miller does actually have impressive possession numbers, but he’s a minus-6 after 15 games, with just one goal and one assist. It will be interesting to see how much the 24-year-old plays when Kevan Miller returns from his hand injury.
The Bruins finish their three-game road trip Thursday in Minnesota. Win that and they’ll return home with eight victories in their last 10, and not just because of their goalie.