Bruins Recap: What is with the sudden turnaround?
In the last Bruins recap, I stated it was time for a change in net, as Tuukka Rask had not performed well at that point in time. Well, hats off to you Mr. Rask, for proving me very, very wrong. Boston is starting to turn things around drastically, now in 5th place in the eastern conference with 38 points, only 8 eight points behind the conference leaders Washington. On their West coast swing, the Bruins lost to red-hot teams in Edmonton and Calgary in a shootout and overtime respectively, and beat Vancouver 4-0 in Rogers Arena.
A major reason for this turnaround that has the Bruins at 17-9-4 is the Power Play. Boston is leading the league in Power Play percentage, converting 29.7% of their opportunities, 7% above the second place team in Washington. Both Loui Eriksson and Patrice Bergeron are in the top 10 in Power Play goals scored, with Loui having six and Patrice having five. Not only have Eriksson and Bergeron been able to turn things around with their offense, but the sudden emergence of Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner has been a factor as well. Spooner has been able to have at least a point in his last five games, and Vatrano recorded a hat trick on the road against Pittsburgh this week.
Not only is the power play effective, but the outstanding performance of Tukkaa Rask has been a major factor as well. While his GAA is still a little high at 2.42, he has been able to have a save percentage of .918, 13th in the eastern conference. He also has four shutouts on the season, two of which came in the month of December. Rask was also responsible for all five wins in December, with huge wins on the road coming against Montreal and Vancouver.
As it stands right now, the Bruins are 5th in the eastern conference behind Washington, Montreal, and both the Rangers and Islanders. To finish off the month of December, Boston has five games left, four of which at home including a home and home with Ottawa. In order to avoid another massive disappointment like last season, the Bruins need to be able to close out 2015 on a high note, hopefully by winning at least three of the games left in December. After December, the Bruins kick off 2016 with a must-win against the Canadiens at Gillette Stadium in the Winter Classic. After losing the first two to Montreal, Boston was able to come back with a massive 3-1 win in the Bell Center. With the Bruins being one of only two teams to win the Winter Classic as the home team, looking the Bruins to come out playing great hockey, and become a top contender in the eastern conference.