By Andy Eide
Enduring through the grind of a full NHL season and playoffs all the way to a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final can take a toll on a team. That’s what the Boston Bruins did last season as they lost to St. Louis in the end.
This offseason the Bruins didn’t make any major changes or additions to the roster that came up one game short last spring. That doesn’t seem to have mattered as after 17 games they’re on top of the Atlantic Division with an impressive 11-3-3 record.
They have a plus-17 goal differential, which is one of the league’s best, and their top line, dubbed ‘the perfection line’ is off to a scorching start.
David Pastrnak is leading the way with an incredible 30 points (15g, 15a) in those 17 games and is second to Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl in the league scoring race. He’s on a pace to surpass last year’s career-best 81 points in 66 games, but can he sustain it?
He’s shooting at a 24.6-percent clip which is well above his career percentage of 14.6 and last year’s 16.2, which was his best year. He’s still getting as many shots on goal as he did last year so even if his shooting percentage levels off some, he looks like he’ll be on his way to a career season with Boston.
Here are the latest Weekly One Timers:
WOT 1 – Pastrnak isn’t doing it by himself for Boston. The rest of his line, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron have been hot as well. The uber pest Marchand is one point behind Pastrnak with 29 points while Bergeron has 17. What may determine if Boston can hold on to the division lead and get back to the Final is if they can find some secondary scoring. The Bruins have 60 goals and the top line has 34 of them.
WOT 2 – Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara played in his 1,500th NHL game last week. He is the 21st player in league history to reach that milestone and only the sixth defenseman to do so? Can you name the other five? We’ll keep you out of suspense and say that Chris Chelios (1,651), Scott Stevens (1,635), Larry Murhpy (1,615), Ray Bourque (1,612), and Niklas Lidstrom (1,564) are the only D-Men to lace them up more than Chara. He hit 1,500 in Montreal and was given a rousing ovation from the Canadiens fans, which says a lot since Chara, and the Bruins, have long been public enemy number one in Montreal.
WOT 3 – Boston isn’t the only Stanley Cup Final team to be showing no ill affect from the long playoff run. The Champs, the St. Louis Blues, are on a seven-game win streak – or ‘heater’ for the more hip of you out there – and lead the Western Conference with 27 points and a 12-3-3 mark. What may be the most remarkable about the streak is it has come after the Blues lost star Vladimir Tarasenko to injury. Tarasenko last played on Oct. 24th, and the Blues lost the game after his injury but then reeled off seven straight.
WOT 4 – St. Louis is finding ways to win, much like it did in last year’s playoff run. The Blues are 11th in the league in goals scored, 11th in goals allowed, and just under a 50-percent possession team. Despite that, they are second in points. Ryan O’Reilly is the only player who is scoring a point-per-game pace and with the loss of Tarasenko, logic says that they may not be able to hold off Central Division challengers. However, the most dangerous of those challengers, the Colorado Avalanche, are dealing with some injury issues as well so maybe, just maybe, the Blues can keep on plugging away wins, even without their best offensive player.
WOT 5 – Blues goalie Jordan Binnington was one of the feel-good stories in the NHL last year. After toiling in the AHL, he got his shot and took over the St. Louis crease, leading them into a second-half resurgence that resulted in the Cup. Was the rookie a flash in the pan? We have seen goalies make an impact in a short half-season stint before only to never be heard from again. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Binnington. He has a save-percentage of .922 and the league’s second-best high-danger save-percentage of .902. Binnington is coming up with big saves and just like last year, it’s getting the Blues wins.
WOT 6 – Connor McDavid is good at hockey. This has long been established, but with his Sunday hat trick – the fifth of his career – he also reached another milestone. The three goals gave him 400 points in his career. He’s reached that mark in 306 games and is the 13th player to reach 400 in that short of a games played span. The top of that list is Wayne Gretzky, who did it in an astonishing 197 games. Sidney Crosby is the only active player to do it, picking up his 400th point in 292 points. The rest of the players are all Hall-of-Famers which shows you the company that McDavid finds himself in.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) November 11, 2019
WOT 7 – It may not be the most spectacular, individual effort goal of the year, but the Blues overtime winner in Vancouver last week is the leader for most humorous goal of the year. Or craziest goal? Or a goal that you don’t see every day? On the play, all three Vancouver players were trapped behind the Blues net, after colliding with each other. Combine that with a shot that missed the net and rebounded all the way down the ice, you are left with a bizarre three-on-none break. The results were as you would expect as Jaden Schwartz wins it.