Sixteen games into the 2016-17 NHL season and the Boston Bruins sit at 10-6 and hold the lost playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They are sitting on a three game win streak and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Bruins are separated from third place in the conference by only two points. The Bruins are in a comfortable spot early into the season, and I am little shocked.
By no means is a 10-6 record breaking down walls, but it is sufficient. If this pace was kept by the Bruins, they would finish with around 102 and 103 points. Last years team finished with 93 points and the 14-15 team finished with 96 points. In both years, 102 points would have been good for fourth in the Eastern conference. Not a single Bruins fans would complain about a fourth place finish.
The youth movement for the Bruins is something that needed to happen, but seeing it pay dividends so fast is not something that anyone expected. My goals for the Bruins this year were to see development in young players, and make the playoffs. As far as playoffs, it is looking hopeful in the young season but talk to me again in May. The youth development however, is in full swing. 20 year-old Czech forward David Pastrnak leads the team with 10 goals. Last year, the young forward had a foot injury that kept him off the ice for a large part of the season. This year, aligned with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, Pastrnak is showing us the star potential and goal scoring abilities he has. His 10 goals ties for second in the NHL.
David Pastrnak: 10 goals in just 13 GP in 2016-17. He's the 1st #Bruins player with 10 in his first 13 of a season since Cam Neely (1994-95)
— StatsCentre (@StatsCentre) November 13, 2016
The Bruins youth movement also includes the defense. Top pairing defenseman Brandon Carlo has shattered everyone’s expectations. The defensive core was one of the biggest worries entering the season. Carlo has not fixed the defense, but has certainly improved it. The 19-year-old second round draft pick has given the Bruins a legitimate top pair on their back-end. Captain Zdeno Chara looks reemerged playing along Carlo every night. The two have a joint +23 rating. Chara with a +12 and Carlo a +11. The rating essentially means that when Chara and/or Carlo on the ice, the Bruins have scored about 11 more goals than their opponent. Carlo’s number ties for eighth in the league, Chara is tied for seventh. The return of a true top D pair for the Bruins has undoubtedly fueled success.
Nearly 20 years separate the Bruins top pair of Zdeno Chara & @1996_Carlo.
They were gracious to share their story: https://t.co/UisbEbzNSG
— Caryn Switaj (@CarynSwitaj) November 13, 2016
The biggest grim of hope for the Bruins is their goalie. If 10-1 Tuukka Rask continues to steal games, they will undoubtedly return to the playoffs. Rask ranks tied for first in wins, tied for third in save percentage, and is first in goals against with just 1.54 a game. Those Vezina like numbers would carry anyone into the playoffs.
Hope is high for the Bruins 16 games into the season, but the past two years have given us no reason to trust them. If they are sitting in the same spot come 82 games, that’s when I will truly applaud them.