|The B's continue to roll heading into '14 (photo via bostonhearld.com)|
The Black and Gold sit atop the Atlantic Division, where they have spent most of the season. Posting a 28-12-2 record for 58 total points, they are four points ahead of second place Tampa Bay, and five ahead of third place Montreal.
As the calender turns to 2014, all signs are pointing to yet another Division title for Claude Julien and Co.
So without further ado, here are some awards to hand out to the B's, covering plenty of categories, and in the end really don't mean anything at all.
Best Line: Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Jarome Iginla
|photo via bostonsportsthenandnow.com|
No surprise here. After losing Nathan Horton to free agency over the summer, the Bruins wasted no time in plugging the hole with another Horton-type body, and that was non other than 'He Who Spurned Ye': Jarome Iginla. The B's signed the 36-year-old winger to play alongside Krejci and Lucic, and the line has not skipped a beat. The three forwards have amassed 94 total points, with Krejci leading the trio with 36.
Best Game(s): Nov. 25 vs Penguins, Dec. 7 vs Penguins
Both games had their fair share of drama, so picking just one was not possible. The Bruins/Pens rivalry blew up in last years Eastern Final, and the three games the teams played early in the year only served to take it to another level. The Nov. 25 match-up saw Sidney Crosby bat home a time-splitting goal, tying the game with just .3 seconds left in regulation, before Torey Krug blasted home the OT winner just a minute into the period.
The Dec. 7 game was an all-timer, seeing plenty of nastiness, dirty plays, a B's comeback in the last minute, and a laundry list of post-game talking points. From James Neal's knee to Brad Marchand's head and Shawn Thornton's attack on Brooks Orpik (and ensuing 15-game ban), the game was practically a playoff game from start to finish. And the finish was David Krejci's tying goal and Zdeno Chara's goal with just 13 seconds left to win it; it was a rollercoaster from start to finish.
Best Callups from Providence That Manage to Look Like Five Year Pros: Kevan Miller and Ryan Spooner
This was a toss up between Miller and Spooner, as both players served the role of "plug-and-play" almost flawlessly. Ill give it to both, as at no point during their time in Boston did their play jump out from the screen in a negative way. And that's the point, really. Similar to the ways Johnny Boychuck and Adam McQuaid played their way onto the roster a few years ago, Miller and Spooner have both looked like they belong on an NHL squad. Miller has provided steady minutes on the blueline while Spooner has contributed nine assists in 15 games and gives whatever line he's on a dynamic burst of speed and skill. The Bruins continue to have an amazing track record of developing their AHL talent down on the farm.
Breakout Player: Reilly Smith
|photo via bleacherreport.com|
This is an obvious choice. Smith was an extra in the Tyler Seguin trade, and his play this season has surpassed any expectations anyone had about him coming into the year. Smith leads the team with 15 goals, and he's second on the Bruins with 32 points (15 G, 17 A). Yes, a 22-year-old throw in to a major blockbuster deal involving an Original Six franchise is leading the team in goals scored in his first full season as a pro. Just like everyone imagined.
Best Taunt That Reminds Vancouver Who Won the Stanley Cup in 2011: Kiss the Ring
Brad Marchand caught some serious flak from coach Claude Julien for his antics vs the Canucks, and it was well deserved, as Marchand can be Marchand when he's scoring goals. But when he's not producing, the taunts can seem childish. He's had a rough go this year putting the puck in the net, so his extracurricular activities irked Julien. But the taunt towards the hated Canucks was still pretty awesome.
Best Reminder of How Many Players Have Missed Games Due to Injury: 8
From the original starting lineup back on October 3rd versus Tampa Bay, only EIGHT players have played in all 42 games for the Bruins. Those who have missed significant time due to injury (or suspension) include Loui Eriksson (18 games), Chris Kelly (13), Adam McQuaid (18) Dougie Hamilton (12), Dennis Seidenberg (ACL) and Shawn Thornton (15).
Carl Soderberg, Jordan Caron, Daniel Paille, Zdeno Chara, and Johnny Boychuck have all missed time at one point or another. The Bruins' depth has been tested to a ridiculous degree, yet they've kept their head above water and then some.
Best Fight: Milan Lucic vs Luke Gazdic
Lucic's bout with Gazdic was his third of the year, and one of the better one's hes had in quite a while. Both got some good shots in, with Lucic not being at all kind to Gazdic's ribcage.
Best Goal: David Krejci Tips Home the Winner with 0.8 Seconds Left vs the Sharks
David Krejci's tip-deflection with one second to go in the game won it for the B's in dramatic fashion, beating San Jose and Jumbo Joe on the Garden Ice. The game also saw Jarome Iginla's first goal as Bruin late in the second period.
Best Example of Home-Ice Advantage: Goin' Streakin'
|photo via cbsboston.com|
The B's have been nearly unbeatable on the Garden ice, posting a 18-4-2 record thus far in the year. They went a full two months without losing a game in regulation (October 26 - December 31), a 13-0-2 run during that time. They also won eight straight, before the streak was snapped by the Islanders on New Years Eve.
They've scored 123 goals at the Garden and have given up only 87, tied with Los Angeles for the best in the NHL.
Best Use of $7,000,000 per year: Tuukka Rask
|photo via bruins.nhl.com|
Tuukka Rask took a gamble last year during free agency, signing a one-year, $3.5 million deal and taking the chance to prove to the Bruins that he was worth top dollar. His play last year earned him an 8 year, $56 million contract. And Rask has picked up where he left off.
Rask is having another tremendous year, posting a 21-9-2 record. He is in the top five in wins, GAA and save percentage (min. 29 games played). Rask has a .928% and a 1.96 GAA and leads the NHL in shutouts with four. 12 times he's given up only one goal. His play has carried the Bruins at times, and he has certainly earned his sizeable paycheck thus far.
Thus concludes the mid-season mega-post covering some of the major aspects of this Bruins season. We'll be sure to have these awards emblazoned somewhere. Or not.
The Bruins have had an awesome year, and they look to keep it going when they continue their season in the second half, starting with the California road trip.