BRIGHTON, Mass – Give the Bruins credit for the way they are hanging tough amid injuries and the expected learning-curve inconsistencies of their young players.
The Black and Gold have taken points in each of their past six games, including their past four all against teams in playoff position: the San Jose Sharks, L.A. Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights. While clearly not playing dominant hockey or even a clear-cut winning brand of pucks, it’s allowed them to remain within a couple of points of a playoff spot with the fewest games played in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins will have to continue doing that with a rugged November schedule ahead of them. Still, it's been so far, so good with a formula of tight-checking, productive power play and quality goaltending expected to pull them through the hard times. In the end, veteran Brad Marchand thinks they’ll be better off for learning how to survive with David Krejci, David Backes, Ryan Spooner, Noel Acciari, Adam McQuaid and Anton Khudobin all currently out of commission.
“We’ve been playing some pretty decent hockey, especially based on the guys that we’ve been missing,” said Marchand. “We’re working on different areas of our game and those areas continue to improve. As long as we continue to get points we’ll continue to grow our game and trend upward.
“It’s good adversity. You need to learn how to win in every situation. You need to learn how to win when you’re missing guys, when you’re at full health and when you’re tried from back-to-backs or whatever it is. You need to learn how to win those games because the best teams thrive throughout the year. You really can’t have excuses at the end of the year [over] whether you’re in the playoffs or not. You can’t look back and say ‘if you weren’t missing so many guys then you would’ve been in the playoffs.’ It doesn’t matter at the end of the day.”
The undermanned Bruins have welcomed the challenge of adversity by picking up points even when all seemed lost, such as falling behind 3-0 in Columbus early in the game. In the good news department, Spooner and Acciari are skating again and it appears Acciari, the former Providence College standout, will begin practicing with the team again next week.
But only 10 players on the Bruins roster have played in all 11 games just a month into the season. That means they’ve needed to get results while never once enjoying the opening-night roster that they envisioned at the start of training camp. That bodes well for this group in the short term, and long term, if they can hold on a little bit longer until good health begins swinging their away again.