It might be difficult to admit, but I don’t think there were very many of us who expected, the Boston Bruins, to be headed to the halfway mark of the season with an unbelievable record of 32-4-4. But, the numbers (like the hips) – don’t lie. Check this out; at press time on Wednesday, the Bruins were first in the Atlantic Division, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs by 11 points. First in the Eastern Conference, leading both Carolina Hurricanes and the Leafs by 11 points. First in the National Hockey League, again with an 11-point lead maintained over the Hurricanes and the Leafs. Wow, can I get some background music please, with a rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses?”
David Pastrnak continues to prove he is worth a long-term deal from the Bruins, as he plays out the final year of his 6-year deal signed in 2017-18, paying him $40,000,000, which breaks down to about $6,666,667 per year. To date, he has earned every penny of that contract with his scoring and exciting play. His 32 goals scored to date, has him trailing only Edmonton’s Connor McDavid’s 34 for the top spot. Pasta’s 58 points puts him in the third spot, behind the Oilers’ McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The NHL on January 9, named Pastrnak the First Star of the Week, following the Bruins’ 4-0 streak in which he put up seven goals and one assist for eight points in four games. Pasta has become a mirror-like image of Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin, with his almost unstoppable one-timer shot. Perhaps the locals will reward Pasta’s talents (at the age of 26), with an 8-year deal that will exceed Ovechkin’s $10,000,000 2022-23 contract with an $11,000,000 rate ($88,000,000 total), which seems fair! The question is not if Boston will sign him, but rather – how soon will they sign him? Also, not to be overlooked is the stellar play of Bs goaltender Linus Ullmark, playing with swagger, notching 22 wins to date, with a goals-against-average of 1.87, and a stunning save percentage of .938, leading the NHL in all three categories.
One has to wonder if coach Jim Montgomery has a magic wand that he waves, that he has this team playing with such flair and success. In either case, Montgomery’s name has to be on the list of contenders for the Jack Adams Coach of the Year Award. It’s impressive to see how much energy and enthusiasm he has been able to get out of these players, young and old alike, seemingly making all the right moves and line changes for just about every situation that arises.
The Bruins return to TD Garden and home ice tonight (Thursday, 7:00pm) to take on the Seattle Kraken, and open a brief three-game home stand that will see the locals also hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs (Saturday, 7:00pm), and the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday, 1:00pm. All three of these teams have been playing well of late, the Kraken are the hottest, currently on a six-game win streak (7-2-1 last ten games), the Leafs are on a two-game win streak (6-3-1 last ten games), and the Flyers are 6-4-0 for their last ten games.