This could be the week the Big Bad Bruins, more than a half-century after rolling up 57 wins, get bumped down a peg in the club’s record book.
The 2-1 win over the Lightning at the Garden Saturday afternoon delivered the Bruins their 56th win of 2022-23. They could tie the mark Sunday in Raleigh, N.C., against the Hurricanes, and possibly break it when the Predators come to town Tuesday. If not, the lowly Blue Jackets are here on Thursday night.
The Bruins established the standing club mark with their magical 57-14-7 effort in 1970-71, Phil Esposito leading the way with 76-76—152. They finished with 121 points, the club’s record high. Today’s edition stands 56-11-5 for 117 points, 5 shy of the top of the Black and Gold heap.
“You talk about skill and will . . . they arguably had the best player of all time,” said coach Jim Montgomery, referring of course to Bobby Orr. “And they had so many goal scorers . . . Esposito, [Ken] Hodge, [Wayne] Cashman, and [John] Bucyk. They had a tremendous amount of will . . . they could go toe to toe with the Flyers. That speaks to the Big Bad Bruins . . . they gave that moniker to the Bruins. Hopefully, we play hard enough to have some of that in our era.”
Less sharing, more shooting
Hampus Lindholm and Matt Grzelcyk each had an assist Saturday. The Bruins blue liners stand a collective 37-145―182, a vast improvement on last season’s 31-119–150 over the 82-game schedule. They soon could pass last season’s entire production on the strength of assists alone.
Around the start of the calendar year, Montgomery urged the blue line crew to get more involved in the offensive attack. The results have been solid, but he’d still like to see more in terms of overall shot readiness.
“I would like them to be more selfish, and think ‘shot’ a lot quicker,” he said. “Especially when they first get the puck at the [offensive] blue line. I’d like to see more shots from there, especially if they see a Bruin at the net.”
Montgomery said he’d like to see more of that mentality both at even-strength and on the power play, where the Bruins have only three goals from their defensemen — one each from Lindholm, Charlie McAvoy, and newcomer Dmitry Orlov.
“We’ve talked, especially to both Mac and Lindy about being more aggressive with their shot selection on the power play,” Montgomery said.
McAvoy scored his power-play goal vs. the Panthers on Nov. 23, and the Bruins didn’t get another from back there until Lindholm on Feb. 25 at Vancouver. Orlov scored his vs. the Sabres here on March 1.
Veterans Taylor Hall, Nick Foligno, and Derek Forbort all remained out of the lineup. None of them are expected to return soon, according to Montgomery. “They’re all doing well,” said the coach. “We don’t have a timeline as to when they might be back.” Hall has been the most active of three and has participated in a couple of the club’s workouts, albeit while wearing a red (non-contact) sweater. Asked if Hall were the closest to return of the three, Montgomery added, “Not that I’m aware of” . . . The Bruins will play at 5 p.m. Sunday in Raleigh, where the Hurricanes pinned a 4-1 loss on them Jan. 29. Hall had the only goal. In their other matchup, the Bruins trimmed the Hurricanes in OT, 3-2, at the Garden on Nov. 25. David Krejci scored a pair and David Pastrnak potted the closer . . . Pastrnak fired nine times, five making it to the net, but remained one shy of scoring his 50th goal. He leads the league with 343 shots on net . . . The machine that is Patrice Bergeron at the faceoff dot won 19 of 26 (73 percent). Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli combined to lose 22 of 29.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.