Column: Dirty Water running smooth
Although Alex Galchenyuk and the Montreal Canadiens broke the Bruins' 12 game winning streak in a shootout Monday night, Boston (49-17-6) still leads the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division and continues to dominate on the ice.
With 12 straight wins, this season's team broke the third longest winning streak in franchise history. David Krejci leads the Bruins with 60 points and has racked up 16 goals and 44 assists. Jarome Iginla and Patrice Bergeron are also dominant on offense, as Iginla has scored 28 goals so far and Bergeron follows close behind with 23 this season.
With the dominant offense and team leaders paving the way, it is hard to imagine the Bruins getting any better. However, Boston's third line makes the Bruins even more of a challenge for their opponents. Loui Eriksson, Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg have been on fire since post-Olympic play, and it's hard to say they aren't as impressive as the first line.
"You know when I look at that line right now, I'm going to tell you we don't have a third line," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said in an interview. "We have three top lines... that third line has been as good as the first and second, if you name them that way."
After Eriksson's second concussion of the season, he was eased back in to the third line and Soderberg was moved to center while Kelly remained on the wing. Before Eriksson's concussion, he played on the team's second line with Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Reilly Smith played with Kelly and Soderberg. When Eriksson became part of the third line was truly when the magic happened. This post-Olympic Bruins team and third line has shown depth and skill, which ultimately has propelled them to success. This third line alone has racked up a combined 85 points this season with 29 goals and 56 assists, and by the looks of it the best is yet to come.
The Bruins have had such success, in part, due to their injuries. In mid December, Boston played without six of their regulars on the ice. Eriksson was out with his second concussion, while Daniel Paille had concussion like symptoms. Dougie Hamilton and Adam McQuaid both had lower body injuries, while Kelly suffered from a broken ankle and Dennis Seidenberg tore his ACL, which ended his season. After the injuries healed and the team got back in sync, the Bruins were able to shine. Boston's depth is due to utilizing every player and line, which ultimately creates a new challenge for their opponents every time they are on the ice.
Although the Bruins' win streak ended Monday night, the team wasn't disheartened. Boston looks to keep playing its best hockey in order to make it far in the playoffs. With the team clicking at the right time and continuing to improve as the season progresses making it far in the playoffs doesn't seem like an issue for Boston. Its next big challenge comes tonight as they host the Chicago Blackhawks in a rematch of the 2013 Stanley Cup. Although the Blackhawks beat the Bruins in January, Boston will seek vengeance in yet another great hockey game.
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