BOSTON — Heading into Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Boston Bruins have healthy leads atop the Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, and NHL standings.
Following a win over Toronto on Saturday, Boston’s lead over the second-place Maple Leafs extended to 11 points, and the Bruins have 2 games in hand to boot.
That 4-3 victory was as emotional and entertaining as any other game this season, and it was an important win for a Bruins team that had been shutout by the Seattle Kraken two nights before.
"I think the game meant more to us than I imagined before the game," said Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery. "We're proud of not having lost two in a row, and there was a purpose to what we were doing, not only because it was the second-place team in Toronto that we were playing, but we don't want to lose two in a row, because if you get into a playoff, you lose two in a row, you're in a little bit of a hole."
The Bruins boast a record of 33-5-4 prior to Monday’s matinee tilt, and are a perfect 9-0 following a loss this season.
They’re tied for second in goals per game (3.76), they’re allowing the fewest goals per game (2.17), and have the league’s best penalty kill (85.6%) to go along with a fourth-ranked power play (27.6%).
Boston’s also benefitting from an all-star season from Linus Ullmark, who ranks first in wins, save percentage, and goals against average. That goes along with a career year to date from David Pastrnak, continued two-way excellence from Patrice Bergeron, and defensive clinics from Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy.
The two best regular seasons in the shootout era were recorded by the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks (.802-point percentage in a lockout shortened season) and the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning (.780). The Bruins currently stand at a .833 point percentage over half way through the season.
As it happened, those Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup over the Bruins in 6 games, while that version of the Lightning was upset by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round, opening the door for the Bruins to advance to the Final that year, where they lost Game 7 to the St. Louis Blues on home ice.
That proves literally anything can happen in the playoffs, but as far as the regular season goes, we’re witnessing one of the best team performances in recent memory, if not all-time.