Category Archives: Bruins

Bruins Sign Kevan Miller to 4 year, $10 million deal

bruins fan flask

YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!

You would think that Don Sweeney learned his lesson last year after signing Adam McQuaid to a 4 year, $11 million extension and watching McQuaid fail to play 65 games for the FOURTH year in a row, but nope, Sweeney keeps shelling out cap space to guys who he could replace for half the cost.

I’m not as low on Kevan Miller as many Bruins fans.  While people around these parts feel that Miller should be riding a bus in the AHL, I’m cool with him as a 7th or mayyybe 6th defenseman on a contender.  However, under no circumstances does he deserve $2.5 million per year.  The cap is rising and $2.5 million isn’t what it was in the NHL 5 years ago, but a depth defenseman almost never gets more than $1-1.5 million per season.  Kevan Miller could be replaced with any 6th/7th defenseman off the street for about a million bucks per year, and a the Belichickian way of thinking dictates that it’d be easy for the Bruins to get 90% of the player that Miller is for 30 or 40 cents on the dollar.  But Don Sweeney is no Bill Belichick.

Sweeney obviously has his job through this summer and well into next season, but unless something drastic changes, I’ll be pissed if he has a job in Boston. on July 1, 2017.  Sure, moves like the Lucic trade or the Beleskey contract were smart, but his batting average on good moves is way too low because of stupid decisions like the McQuaid contract, giving up a 3rd round pick for Zac Rinaldo, the infamous Dougie Hamilton trade, and now the Miller contract.  Claude Julien changed his coaching style during the season in order to turn the Bruins into a more offensive team this year, and he almost got the B’s to the playoffs.  Don Sweeney is trying to make sure that the Bruins are consistently the 9th seed in the East.

 

Bruins Hedged their Bets with Loui Eriksson, Will Now Pay for It

loui eriksson

Back on February 29, I wrote why the Bruins should have extended Loui Eriksson at the trade deadline, rather than trading him or letting him walk into free agency.  My main line of argument was the numbers that Loui Eriksson was looking for, according to Darren Dreger:

Eriksson is a damn good player, and $6~ million is not too much for a player of his caliber.  That’s the short version of my opinion on Eriksson.  For the rest of it, read the piece that I linked to in the first paragraph.  For now, let’s move on to what happens with Eriksson in the summer.

The Bruins have missed the playoffs, and the Bruins are headed for a much worse fate in regards to Eriksson.  The Swedish winger will now command more than what he was asking for in February according to Dreger, and the Bruins are damned if they sign him and damned if they don’t.  If the Bruins pay up for Eriksson, he’ll likely command $7 million per year, especially if he’s content with only 5 years on the deal.  Or, he could push for a 7 year deal from another team or an 8 year deal from the Bruins, which would take him up until right before his 39th birthday.

Given that the Bruins just endured a horrendous and downright pathetic collapse, they might try to overturn much of the roster (and coaching staff/front office, which I’ll write about soon).  If so, that would include letting Eriksson walk.  It’s possible that they could trade his free agency rights to another team, but why would Eriksson signal to another team that he’d be willing to sign a contract before free agency?  If he’s made it through this season without signing an extension, wouldn’t he want to make it to free agency?  I don’t see the B’s trading his rights before June 1 unless some other team is convinced that Eriksson is the missing piece and they’re willing to overpay him.

The Bruins are stuck between deciding to re-sign Loui Eriksson for way more than they could have paid a few months back and letting a stud right winger walk.  My bet in on the latter, because the B’s front office will be looking to make changes for the sake of making changes.  Don’t get me wrong, there are legitimate changes that have to be made with the Bruins, but almost all of the holes that need filling are on defense.  When Eriksson gets offered a ton by another team, Cam Neely and Don Sweeney will pass.

And make no mistake about it, Loui Eriksson will get a humongous offer from some team.  People will point to last summer as a sign that NHL GMs have finally figured out not to spend too much money in free agency in a sport with a hard salary cap, but the example of last year doesn’t really apply.  Check out the list of NHL free agent signings last summer.  Do any of those guys bring as much to a team as Eriksson?  Artem Anisimov and Justin Williams are great players, but I’d rather have Loui in a heartbeat.  Brandon Saad signed a deal for 6×6, but restricted free agents are always underpaid in comparison to UFAs.

The Bruins had a chance to pay Eriksson the same money that Brandon Saad gets, and they missed it.  Now, they’ll watch as he plays for a cup contender next year.  Or, they’ll re-sign him to a contract that either lasts too long or takes up a little too much cap space.  Either way, they’re screwed, and it’s all because they hedged their bets at the trade deadline instead of paying a great player what he’s worth.

Bruins Lose to Blackhawks, But Are in Good Spot

bruins blackhawks

Well, that game was… strange.  The Blackhawks put 4 of 22 shots past Tuukka Rask, who gave way to Jonas Gustavsson in the net after that.  The Hawks were up 6-0 heading to the end of the 2nd period, but the Bruins scored twice in the final 16 seconds of the period and then twice more in the 3rd.  With about 10 minutes to go and down a pair of goals, we all honestly thought that they had a good chance of winning.

Alas, it didn’t happen, and the B’s sit a point back of Detroit in the playoff standings.  Furthermore, they’re a game back in the ROW column to the Red Wings, but that fact isn’t as bad as you think.  If the Bruins are to make up a point on the Red Wings and tie them after 82 games, it’ll likely come from the Bruins winning a game that the Red Wings lose in overtime.  As long as that win for the Bruins isn’t a shootout win, they’ll get right back to even in the ROW column.

The Bruins’ and Red Wings’ schedule for the final 3 games of the season is quite favorable to Boston.  The Red Wings are enjoying a long break from Saturday night through Wednesday, but then they play the Flyers on their home ice.  The Bruins do not play Wednesday, as they’ll host the Hurricanes on Tuesday in a game that is the definition of “must win.”  On Thursday, the Red Wings come to Boston without the day of rest that the B’s will have.  On Saturday, the Bruins host the Senators, who obviously have zero to play for except being a Bruins spoiler (actually, for the Sens, that’s a great reason to play hard), while the Red Wings finish the season in MSG.  The Rangers likely will have to care about the game to either avoid falling to the Wild Card spot behind the Islanders or to usurp the Penguins for home ice in the 1st round.

Both of the ‘other’ teams that the Red Wings face, the Flyers and Rangers, are way better than the Bruins’ ‘other’ teams, the Hurricanes and Senators.  The B’s also host that pivotal Thursday game vs. Detroit.  Finally, in the previous 3 games that the B’s and Wings have played against each other, Boston has earned 4 points to Detroit’s 3.  Even if the B’s were to lose in overtime to the Wings, they’d be tied at 5 points in both of those games, which sends the playoff spot to the next tiebreaker if they’re tied in points, ROW, and points in head to head games.  The Bruins would then get the final playoff spot because their goal differential is far superior to the Red Wings’.

Thanks to the Bruins somehow winning in St. Louis, they’re in a much better spot than you think.  Given how much of an enigma this team is, maybe it’s not good for the Bruins to be in a good place, but I’m feeling pretty confident about the Bruins getting the 3rd playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

Bruins Face Blues, Blackhawks on Midwest Trip

bruins blues

The only thing that you can bank on with the 2016 Bruins is that they’ll put themselves in a hole.  Last Saturday, I wrote that the Bruins absolutely needed 4 points in their next 2 games against the Maple Leafs and Devils, and they responded by beating the Maple Leafs… and losing to the Devils.  Now, they face a pair of dynamic, elite teams who should beat the B’s in both of these contests, and Boston desperately need to pull a win out of thin air in these games.

Let’s be real, the Blues and Blackhawks are not only way better than the Bruins, but they’re both horrible matchups for the B’s.  The B’s have a trio of 6th-8th defensemen who play every night, and basic math should tell you that it’s not good when you’re 4th defenseman should be your 6th.  The Blues and Blackhawks both have the forward depth to take advantage of the Bruins’ blueline when Chara isn’t on the ice.

St. Louis also has the defensive depth to deal with the Bruins’ offense that is 5th in the league in goals scored.  The Blackhawks, like the B’s, also lack depth on the blue line and they’re just 3-5-2 in their last 10, but do you really think they’re the favorites in Sunday’s game in Chicago?

This weekend represents a time where the Bruins’ unpredictability actually plays to their advantage.  During the Claude Julien years, whenever the team is supposed to lose, they often find a way to pull it out.  The opposite is also true, as we saw Tuesday in New Jersey.  But hopefully the Bruins find themselves on the other end of the spectrum tonight or Sunday afternoon.

TL,DR version?  The Bruins need Tuukka Rask to stand on his head and/or the Bergeron line to be the best in the league for at least one of the next two games. Let’s hope that happens.

Bruins Need 4 Points in Next 2 Games

NHL: Boston Bruins at Dallas Stars

On one hand, this might be the most obvious column that I’ve written.  On the other hand, though, I’m not sure if Bruins fans understand the spot the Bruins are in over the next week or so.

The Bruins play the Maple Leafs tonight in Ontario and then travel to New Jersey on Tuesday.  That gives them ample rest in between the games, and there’s no excuse to drop either game.  Next Friday (notice the extra day or rest again), they play in St. Louis.  Then, next Sunday, the play in Chicago for the 12:30 NBC matinee with Doc Emrick.  Would it shock you at all if the Bruins dropped both of those?  Me neither.

The Bruins got a gift from the Penguins earlier today when they beat the Red Wings, which means that the B’s are up on the Wings by a point with 7 games left for both teams.  The B’s need 8 or 9 points in those final games, and it’s gonna be hard for them to do so if they can’t get at least 4 points over the next 4 games.  Given that I have no faith in the Bruins in St. Louis or Chicago, they need to beat the lowly Maple Leafs and mediocre Devils.

It sucks that we have to care so much about a game against Toronto.  But that’s the position that the B’s have put themselves in with the 5 game losing streak.

Bruins Must Hold thier Place in Standings

zdeno chara

As of the morning of March 22nd, here are the NHL Eastern Conference Standings:

nhl standings photoshop

Few things to note:

  • The Bruins do not have a playoff spot locked up, thanks to the resurgence of the Flyers.  The Bruins could get bumped by the Red Wings in the Atlantic Standings and then fall below both the Penguins/Islanders and Flyers in the wild card.  In fact, if the Flyers win both of the games that they have in hand over the Bruins, then the 2 teams are tied.  That’s concerning.
  • Boston’s chance at winning the Atlantic are waning by the day.   Thanks to the 3 consecutive losses in California, the B’s will have to both go on a run to end the season and have both the Panthers and Lightning sputter.
  • Most importantly, if the Bruins fall to one of the wild card spots, then they’re probably the 8th seed and not the 7th.  The Islanders are 1 point back of the Bruins with 2 games in hand, and my guess is that they’ll hang onto the 1st wild card spot. If Pittsburgh falls back to 4th in the Metropolitan, then they’ll still probably be ahead of the Bruins thanks to going 8-2 in their last 10.

The Bruins simply cannot fall back into wild card territory.  Not only do they risk becoming the 9th seed in the East for the 2nd year in a row, but they also would likely fall into the Metropolitan side of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket.  As the 8th seed, they would face Washington in the 1st round, and I don’t think I have to explain to you how scary that would be.  Thanks to the fact that Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid, and Kevan Miller all own Claude Julien’s sex tape (only explanation for why they are in the top 6 defensemen), one of those stiffs is on the ice at all times for the Bruins.  Therefore, the Ovechkin-Backstrom-Justin Williams line would get to feast on one of those guys every single shift.  That’s a problem.

Even if  the Bruins beat the Capitals because Marchand scored 10 goals in 7 games, Bergeron was the best skater on the ice, and Tuukka Rask stood on his head, the B’s would then face the Rangers or Penguins/Islanders in the Eastern Conference Semifinals — which would technically be the Metropolitan Division Finals thanks to the NHL’s weird structure.  I would much rather have the Bruins face the Panthers than the Rangers, for example.

NYR has taken a huge step back in terms of corsi this season, but thy’re still a well coached team with an awesome goaltender, and they “know how to play in the playoffs” (cliche alert!).  The Bruins-Rangers game tomorrow night may make me feel differently, but the Rangers will always worry me in the playoffs until further notice.  Also, Roberto Luongo in Boston in the playoffs brings back good memories.  Let’s just say that he has a much better chance of having a meltdown then Henrik Lundqvist.

Honestly, I couldn’t care much less about home ice for the Bruins.  They’re a much better road team this season, anyway.  If they have to go to Tampa Bay and then Florida in the first 2 rounds, that’s fine by me.  So long as they don’t have to face the Capitals in the 1st round.  The final 9 games of the season are imperative simply so that they avoid such a fate.

Here are the Bruins’ and Red Wings’ schedules.  That April 7th game is appointment television in both cities.

bruins schedule photoshop

red wings schedule photoshop

Bruins Sweep Florida Trip

marchand celebrating

They may have let the Panthers and Lightning get to overtime and steal a point, but the Bruins beat the Panthers and Lightning in overtime in the past 2 days, vaulting themselves to 83 points.

The Bruins are technically tied for 1st in the Atlantic Division with the Lightning, but Tampa Bay has a game in hand.  Florida is now 2 points back, but they have 2 games in hand over the Bruins.  What may be more important, however, is that the Bruins look like they will not fall into the one of the Wild Card spots, at which point they would either have to face the Capitals in the 1st or 2nd round of the playoffs.  If they can stay in the Atlantic Division bracket of the Eastern Conference playoffs, they’ll only have to play 2 of the Panthers, Lightning, Penguins, and Red Wings, all of which are far more manageable than the mighty Caps.  Boston has played 2 more games than Wings, but they’re up 7 points on Detroit, so finishing at worst 3rd in the Atlantic seems like a definite.

Regardless of where the Bruins finish, they just made a huge statement by beating both Floridian teams on back to back nights in humongous Atlantic Division matchups.  They officially have more of a ceiling than I thought last summer.  Let’s hope that they don’t get my hopes too high right before a playoff letdown.

Bruins’ Biggest Problem Has Been Hedging Bets

loui eriksson

Since the Peter Chiarelli era started, the Bruins have been aggravating their fans to no end with many of the team’s transactions.  Hockey fans tend to get up in arms over just about anything (have you seen hockey twitter?), but this is a case where B’s fans have every right to pull their hair out over the decisions a team has made.  It’s so infuriating that a generally smart organization that will probably make the playoffs for the 8th time in 9 years can also make so many dumbfounding moves.

Since Chiarelli took over, the Bruins have all too often hedged their bets when they should have gone in one direction or the other, and that’s what’s so confusing about their transactions.  Now, some bad decisions that Chiarelli and Sweeney have made don’t qualify as confusing or inconsistent — they were just bad trades.  Now that we know of the locker room rifts that existed around the players, I don’t hate the Phil Kessel or Dougie Hamilton trades.  The expected return on the trades was the issue.  Chiarelli was bailed out by the fact that Brian Burke had massively overrated the 2010 Maple Leafs’ ceiling and the fact that the 2010 draft was awesome, because he would up with Tyler Seguin at #2 instead of some #15 pick who very may have gone the way of Zach Hamill and Jordan Caron.  He also got Dougie the next season at #9, and the B’s owe Brian Burke a huge thank you for believing that his team would be in the middle of the pack those years instead of in the bottom 10.  For the Dougie trade, I don’t have an issue with trading a guy who wants out and getting young players, since the B’s were just trading a young guy for even younger players in the form of draft picks, and they were still capstrapped last Summer.  The only issue I have lies in the stupidity to believe that Dougie was only worth a 1st, 2nd, and 2nd.

The Tyler Seguin trade was obviously horrible, but it’s funny how revisionist history works around here.  Fans and media in Boston act like they always hated the trade and always thought it was an abomination, and they’ll purposely forget that many of us were convincing ourselves that the trade was worth it during the 2014 Presidents Trophy season.  That’s why I’ll always defend the trade to at least some degree:  At least the Bruins went 100% in one direction by going all in for that season.  They realized how close they were in 2013, only losing to a juggernaut Blackhawks team in an incredibly tight series that featured a quartet of 1 goal losses, and they pushed everything to the middle of the table for the following year.  Loui Eriksson was expected to be a better player for the 2014 season alone than Seguin (at least in Boston, where Seguin didn’t fit quite right), Reilly Smith was a valuable acquisition, and Rich Peverley’s contract had to be moved.  The B’s opened up around $4 million of cap space and made a trade that was expected to help them way more for the 2014 season, and it carved out a pathway for them to sign Jarome Iginla to a bonus-laden deal.  If the Bruins hadn’t run into their Kryptonite team in the 2nd round of the 2014 playoffs, there’s a decent chance that we’re talking about a ballsy trade that was an overpay on paper but brought another Stanley Cup to Boston.

Other moves, though, have been horrible due to their inconsistency and wishy-washy nature.  It never, ever made sense to pass on Andrew Ference in 2013 (good move) but then re-up Dennis Seidenberg a few months later.  When you realize that your defensive corp is aging and declining, move on.  It didn’t add up to sign Rich Peverley to a relatively pricey extension before the 2012 season was even over, just to dump after the following season due to his salary.  Both of those moves made sense in a vacuum, but not together.  As it relates to both Chiarelli and Sweeney, I will never understand as long as I live how it makes sense to pay Dennis Seidenberg and then Adam McQuaid almost 2 years later… but pass up on Johnny Boychuk before his walk year even started.  Boychuk was 2.5 years younger than Seidenberg, at least 2.5 times the player of Seids, and would up signing an extension with the Islanders that the Bruins would have (or at least should have) loved to pay him.  McQuaid’s deal this past summer made no sense because there is no reason whatsoever to overpay a 6th-7th defenseman to the point that you have to make tough sacrifices with a legitimate #2 defenseman.  The McQuaid signing came after the Boychuk deal, of course, but the B’s will have to make another Boychuk-esque move because of that damn McQuaid contract that will be on the books through 2019.

Lastly, if you’re gonna move on from Shawn Thornton, that’s fine.  In fact, I applaud it, because Thorty was a shell of his former self in 2014 and the NHL was moving away from enforcers.  If you’re gonna pay Adam McQuaid way too much money in part because of his toughness, well then read my thoughts above, but fine.  I’ll live with it just for this one paragraph for the sake of argument.  But then why turn around and pay for a horrendous enforcer who can barely play hockey in the form of a 3rd round pick???!!!! Zac Rinaldo brings the team’s 4th line down so much that it’s not even funny, and I couldn’t come up with a good reason for the Bruins acquiring him if my life depended on it.

Flash forward to the 2016 trade deadline.  There are 2 aspects of the Bruins’ deadline moves that don’t make sense to me.  The first involves Lee Stempniak.  The B’s could have had him for a million bucks in September after no one else had signed him, and now they traded 2 picks for him.  Ray Shero, ever the overrated GM in Pittsburgh, got the better of Don Sweeney in this one, because he paid $1 million for 41 points in 63 games, a 2nd rounder, and a 4th rounder.  Not too shabby.

The second confusing part of Sweeney’s moves involve Loui Eriksson, of course.  I actually like the fact that the B’s kept him, as I wrote that the Bruins should pay him because his asking price wasn’t too high.  However, it doesn’t make sense to not sign Eriksson to an extension, assuming those were his numbers.  Players always get paid more in free agency than they do for extensions, and despite the fact that the NHL GMs suddenly shifted course in 2015 and were frugal with the contracts they dished out (except for the GOD DAMN ADAM McQUAID CONTRACT AGGHHHH), I’m willing to bet that Eriksson won’t be wishing that he had taken the Bruins’ below market extension offer last week.  Stamkos, Kopitar, and co. will sign ridiculous — and well-deserved — contracts, and suddenly some team will realize that paying Loui Eriksson $7 million a year ain’t so bad.  There are no compensatory picks in the NHl for losing a UFA, so the the Bruins should have either traded or paid Loui last week.

Go one way or the other, don’t try to hedge bets.  That’s a that Bruins GMs have struggled with over the past decade.

Final Verdict: Bruins Should Pay up for Loui Eriksson

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that Loui Eriksson’s low number for his contract extension would be either 5 years, $32.5 million ($6.5M per year) or 6 years, $36 million ($6M per year).  Based on Darren Dreger’s tweet above, that seems like the baseline for Eriksson and his agent.  If that’s what it would take, I can’t figure out why the Bruins wouldn’t keep their 2nd line left winger.

The fact that the Tyler Seguin trade was a horrible trade has overshadowed in important fact: Loui Eriksson is a damn good NHL hockey player.  Don’t just look at his line of 23-25-48 in just 63 games this year, because you’ve no doubt already heard the accompanying stat of his 17.2% shooting percentage this season.  That shooting percentage is admittedly a great point for the argument that says the Bruins should lean towards trading Eriksson, which I call the Danny Ainge argument: His value as an asset is being overrated right now in his contract year when he’ll turn 31 right after free agency opens next year, so sell high on that asset.

What that argument overlooks is how awesome Eriksson’s complete game is, not just his heightened scoring numbers this season.  Check out his fancy stats (“Advanced stats” is boring, I’m primarily going with “fancy stats” going forward, but I refuse to write it as “#fancystats.”) over the course of his career.  The first 45 games of this season that he’s played are all that Behind the Net gives us, but his individual fancy stats are listed here, and they also paint a pretty picture.  Eriksson has a Corsifor% of over 53% with just a few more offensive zone faceoffs than defensive zone faceoffs, has played both right and left wing this season, and has played the most minutes of any Bruins forward this season.

Last summer, the Bruins let Carl Soderberg walk because they couldn’t pay 3 centers the total dollars that they deserved on the open market.  Soderberg has proven to be a worthwhile acquisition for the Avalanche, but he was not thought of as nearly the player that Eriksson is thought to be now.  Soderberg may play the more valuable position of center, and he was about 15 months younger during free agency than Eriksson will be this summer but you know you’d take Eriksson for the next few years, even with his significant concussion history.  Soderberg got 5 years, $23.75 million ($4.75M per season) from Colorado.  If you can get Eriksson for 2 extra years and $1.25 million more per season, that’s a much better contract when stacked up against Soderberg, especially with the cap likely rising by about $3 million.

The counterargument that I understand the most involves the Bruins’ cap situation.  Don Sweeney signed Adam McQuaid to a deal that pays him $2.75 million for the next few years (WHY????????!!!!!!!!!!!!), and Dennis Seidenberg is still getting checks for $4 million a year through 2018.  Marchand — and maybe David Pastrnak — will likely be extended this offseason, and Krug, Trotman, and Morrow will all be RFAs this summer.  Having said that, Chris Kelly’s deal finally comes off the books this season, and the Bruins have Tuukka, Bergeron, Beleskey, and Krejci locked up for several seasons after this one at reasonable prices, and they also have Chara and Hayes locked up for the next 2 seasons after this one at a relatively low total sum, and they have many young players who could make a jump to the NHL on cheap ELC deals in the next few years, led by their trio 2015 1st round picks.  They can afford to pay Loui Eriksson.

Make no mistake about it, signing Loui Eriksson to either $6 or $6.5 million per year will make the Bruins pass on a few other players in the next few seasons.  These deals aren’t done in a vacuum.  But you pay for the studs and figure out how to get a decent cast of role players without overpaying any of them.  Loui Eriksson is a stud, and his asking price is not too high by any means.  Unless the Bruins can get way more than expected for Eriksson — which is unlikely such a deal probably would have happened given the flurry of trades that have already happened — the Bruins should keep their star winger.

Are the Bruins the Weirdest Team in the NHL?

zdeno chara

Tonight, the Bruins lost to the damn Columbus Blue Jackets.  You know, the Blue Jackets who are last in the Metropolitan Division and sit only above the Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference.  Before that, they beat the Dallas Stars with a furious comeback in the final period and a half, and the Stars are the best team in the West right now. (The Blackhawks are 1 point ahead of the Stars, but the Stars have played 2 fewer games.  That’s 1st place to me.)

This is what the Bruins have been doing all year.  They lose the games that frustrate the hell out of you and make you think, “Yeah, well, that’s why we knew they weren’t a real contender this season.”  Then they put a beatdown on great team, and you think, “If they get some help on the blue line at the trade deadline… you never know!”  Most of these great wins against quality competition have come on the road, which only adds to the surprise.  The Bruins are 20-7-3 on the road this season, which is bested by only the mighty Capitals.  They’ve beaten the Lightning, Panthers, Canadiens, Islanders, Penguins, Blues, and now Stars by 2 goals on the road this year in a game.

The last time that the Bruins had a better record on the road in a season was the 2011 season, which you’re more then welcome to use as a good omen, but more importantly demonstrates the fact that the Chara-era Bruins haven’t been a great road team.  Even during the 2014 Presidents’ Trophy season, the B’s earned that title mainly by boasting an absurd 31-7-3 record at the TD Garden.  This season, their record is not only better on the road, but their road/home records are light-years away from one another (43 points in 50 games on the road compared to 27 in 50 at home).  This B’s team’s home/road splits are so different from that past B’s teams that it’s not even funny, only adding to the unpredictability of this season.

This year’s team is different from the Bruins of years’ past in multiple other ways, as well.  For one, the group of forwards are much better than the defense.  The Bruins’ blue line had been overrated for a little while now because of the defensive system they play and the fact that they regularly put guys like Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the lineup, but it was never this.  In 2011, for example, the team had a Norris Trophy winner, good 2nd defenseman, decent 3rd-4th guys in Ference (when he was still good) and Boychuk (when he had become good but wasn’t great yet), and a “good enough” 5-6 combo of Kaberle and McQuaid (the only time in his career when McQuaid actually deserved to be the 6th defenseman for a contender).  Now, it’s Chara, who’s still very good but not closer to what he was in 2011, and a bunch of a guys who are slotted either 1 or 2 spots too high on the depth chart.

At the beginning of the season, the Bruins let us know that this would be a wacky season.  They opened by losing 3 straight by a combined 9 goals, won 6 of 7, lost 5 of 7, then won 5 in a row.  Through the 60 game mark, I can’t think of another team in the league who’s as weird as they are.  The only other possibility is the Predators because of their streakiness for spurts during the season, the Ryan Johansen trade, and the fact that they’re contending while Pekka Rinne has a .906 save percentage this year.  But they can’t match the craziness of the Bruins this year, not with the way the Bruins make us wonder whether or not they can tie their own skates on day and give us hope for another Stanley Cup the next.

The good thing about high variance teams?  The highest point of that variance is pretty damn high.  They still need major help on defense at the trade deadline, but if they somehow pull that off, it wouldn’t shock me for the Bruins to commence a hot streak when the postseason starts and make a deep playoff run.  Or, they could get swept in the 1st round by a combined 10 goals in 4 games.  Neither would shock me in the slightest.