Red-hot special teams fueling Boston Bruins' recent surge up NHL standings

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Nick Goss
·3 min read
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Red-hot special teams fueling Bruins' recent surge up NHL standings originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

There are many reasons why the Boston Bruins are one of the hottest teams in the NHL entering Wednesday night's game against the New York Rangers.

The goaltending has been very good, scoring depth isn't a major issue and the team's young defensemen are playing better than expected at both ends of the ice.

Another one of the biggest drivers of Boston's success so far has been red-hot special teams, with both the power play and penalty kill firing on all cylinders.

Consider this: The Bruins are the only team in the league with both a top-six power play and penalty kill.

Bruins 'breaking teams' with elite third-period scoring

The B's have the No. 6 power play at 33.3 percent. Boston has scored 12 power play goals in 36 opportunities through 11 games. The Bruins also have generated 53 scoring chances and 27 high-danger shot attempts on those 36 power-play opportunities. 

Who's leading the charge on the man-advantage?

Patrice Bergeron leads Boston with nine power-play points (four goals, five assists). Brad Marchand and Nick Ritchie are tied with seven points apiece. Ritchie's contributions on the power play are a nice -- and much-needed -- surprise for the B's. David Pastrnak already has three points (two goals, one assist) on the power play in just four games since returning from injury.

The penalty kill group is enjoying similarly impressive results.

The PK unit ranks No. 2 in the league at 87.8 percent. The Bruins also rank No. 1 in shot percentage (27.87) and No. 2 in goals percentage (28.57) on the penalty kill, per Natural Stat Trick.

One of the surprises of the penalty kill has been Jeremy Lauzon. The 23-year-old defenseman leads the B's with 3:44 of shorthanded ice time per game. He played 1:46 of penalty kill minutes per night last season.

Brandon Carlo (3:37/game) and Kevan Miller (3:04/game) also are shouldering a lot of the penalty kill burden on the blue line and playing well. 

Boston's penalty kill is aided tremendously by Bergeron and Marchand, who make up the best shorthanded duo in the league. Both are excellent defensive forwards and each has scored a shorthanded goal this season.

Excellent special teams prevented the Bruins from losing too many games earlier in the season when the team was really struggling to score goals at even strength. The Bruins have improved greatly at even strength over the last eight games with 20 goals scored and 14 given up, while posting the third-best shot attempt percentage during that span.

What are the chances the Bruins regress on special teams as the regular season wears on? We shouldn't expect too much of a drop off, especially when you remember they had the second-best power play and third-best penalty kill last season.

The Bruins still need to be better at even strength, but it's also quite encouraging to see their special teams continue to be dominant despite the roster turnover on the blue line that took place over the offseason.