By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins are the second-best team in the NHL this season, trailing only a Tampa Bay Lightning team that is flirting with history as one of the best regular-season teams of all time. That is how good this year’s Bruins team is.
Die-hard Bruins fans are surely aware of this fact, but perhaps more-casual observers aren’t quite up to speed on this development. And after Wednesday night’s 6-3 win over the Rangers, the Bruins improved their record to 47-21-9.
BEST RECORD IN THE NHL
1. Tampa Bay Lightning, 59-14-4, 122 points
2. Boston Bruins, 47-21-9, 103 points
3. Calgary Flames, 47-23-7, 101 points
4. Washington, 45-24-8, 98 points
5. Toronto, 45-25-7, 97 points
6. San Jose, 43-24-9, 95 points
7. Pittsburgh, 42-24-11, 95 points
8. NY Islanders, 44-26-7, 95 points
It’s been quite the run for Bruce Cassidy’s crew thus far, though everything will ultimately come down to whether or not the Bruins have what it takes to take down the juggernaut Lightning in the second round, if that likely scenario arises.
For the time being, with five games left to play in the regular season, it’s worth noting that Patrice Bergeron is having the best season of his career. So is Brad Marchand. So is David Pastrnak.
Really, looking up and down the roster, there are career years taking place everywhere.
Leading the team with 97 points, Brad Marchand is almost certain to hit the 100-point mark for the first time of his career. His previous career high in points was 85 in the 2016-17 season. Marchand’s also averaging 1.28 points per game, which is an improvement upon last year’s 1.25 points per game, his previous career high.
Marchand being on the verge of 100 points should be considered a fairly big deal. A Bruins player hasn’t hit the 100-point mark since Joe Thornton back in 2002-03. In the entirety of the 1990s, only Joe Juneau and Hall of Famer Adam Oates hit the 100-point threshold, with Oates doing it twice and Juneau reaching the mark once. Likewise, only two players — Barry Pederson (once) and Rick Middleton (twice) — recorded 100-point seasons for the Bruins during the entirety of the 1980s decade.
Speaking of Hall of Famers, the aforementioned Patrice Bergeron is having the finest season of his career in terms of filling up the score sheet. He’s already tallied a career-high 77 points, which is even more impressive when you consider that he’s only played 61 games. He’s surpassed his previous career high of 73 points, which he recorded over 81 games way back in the 2005-06 season. Bergeron’s 1.26 points per game this year is far and away the best such mark of his career, as he’s never topped the point-per-game threshold before.
Rounding out the best line in the NHL, David Pastrnak is fresh off a hat trick that brought his season totals to 36 goals and 41 assists for 77 points in 61 games played. Since returning from a surgically repaired torn thumb tendon, Pastrnak has posted a 5-6-11 line in just five games played, appearing no worse for the wear after missing over a month due to the off-ice injury. He’s currently four points shy of setting a new career high in points, as he registered 80 in 82 games played last year. But with 1.26 points per game and 0.59 goals per game this season, it’s been a major step forward for the skilled Czech winger thus far in 2018-19. (He’s under contract at a very affordable rate for four more seasons, too.)
Dropping down a line, center David Krejci is in the midst of his third-best season in terms of points per game with 0.87, but he’s only fractionally behind his best season of 0.89, and his second best season of 0.88 points per game. Krejci would need seven points over the final five games of the season to set a new career high, but regardless, this year certainly qualifies as one of the best of his career — aided in part to Jake DeBrusk improving upon 16 goals in his rookie season to 24 goals thus far this season.
Krejci has also climbed the all-time Bruins rankings, as he now ranks ninth in franchise history in points (637) and eighth in assists (444).
Bergeron ranks sixth in franchise history in career points (811), sixth in goals (321) and seventh in assists (490).
It’s not just top-line guys, either. Chris Wagner has already scored 12 goals, far surpassing his previous single-season high of seven goals last year. His 18 points are also a career high.
On the back end, Torey Krug is having his best season in terms of points per game with 0.83. That’s an improvement upon last year’s 0.78, his previous career high. Though he’s only found the back of the net six times in 60 games played, he’s currently one assist shy of tying his career high of 45.
In net, Tuukka Rask has had a below average season by his own standards, but Jaroslav Halak has experienced quite the career renaissance. Halak’s .923 save percentage this year is the third-best such mark of his career, with his previous career highs coming way back in 2011-12 with St. Louis (.926) and 2009-10 with Montreal (.924).
How this all translates come playoff time will ultimately be what defines the 2018-19 Bruins. But for the time being, it’s worth noting just how good of a year it has been for so many Bruins.