BOSTON – The Bruins are running away with a playoff spot.
That’s the reality of the situation just a week into the month of January with the Bruins ripping off a raucous 17-3-2 run over their last 22 games, and holding an 11-point cushion for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs come April.
Both gaudy looking numbers were padded when the Bruins torched the Carolina Hurricanes by a 7-1 score on Saturday night at TD Garden. They essentially embarrassed a team in a playoff spot in the tough Metro Division, and continued to serve notice that the Bruins are very much for real this season.
In their current 8-0-2 points streak in their last 10 games, they’ve outscored opponents 42-12 and have flat out embarrassed the Senators, Islanders, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes in their path of impressive destruction.
“We always play to our standard. It doesn’t matter what the time or score is, we always want to keep moving up and pushing other teams down,” said Torey Krug. “We had a chance, obviously, to come away with two points tonight and we obviously came out hot and just kept it rolling. We’re feeling good about our game and definitely not getting complacent.”
The Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins and the Toronto Maple Leafs have run away from the rest of a pretty bad Atlantic Division pack, and the second half of the season looks like it will be about the Leafs and the Bruins slugging it out for home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Either that or catching up to a Bolts crew that holds a commanding nine point lead over the Leafs and B’s, and looks like the odds-on favorite to win the President’s Trophy this season.
The bottom line is that the Bruins are in a comfortable spot entering Sunday night’s tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and they still have a five-day bye and an NHL All-Star break to rest up a team that’s currently healthy and extremely effective.
It would be easy for the Bruins to ease off the gas or stop playing the right way given where they currently reside in the standings after a great two-month stretch. It would also be something that Bruce Cassidy is dead set against.
“We want to play our game, and it is working out well for us. I am not going to lie to you; I am a coach; I look at the standings. But, it is early to get preoccupied with that,” said Cassidy. “We just want to play well and win and keep climbing up. We have done that. Some teams, they have their own issues. For us, that is our goal. It seems like there are no easy games in this league, but lately we have been able to extend some leads.
“One of those games back-to- back, we didn’t have to tax anybody. I don’t have the sheet in front of me, but I know the forwards probably – 14, 15 minutes the most for the highest forward [in the Carolina win]. It is always good, especially in situations like this when we have to play again [Sunday vs. the Penguins].”
That kind of thing is the exact way a good hockey club can make life even easier for themselves when things are going well. The Bruins are doing that and piling up points right now in the first half of the season, a phenomenon that needs to continue until things inevitably turn as the schedule gets a little crazy for the B’s in the second half of the season.