The Boston Bruins entered the Stanley Cup playoffs after the most successful regular season in NHL history. They set a single-season record for wins and shattered the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens‘ mark of 132 points.
“When I think about how great those teams were, and how we surpassed that total, it’s significant. Because those were dominant hockey teams,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said.
“Dominant” might not do justice to the Bruins’ performance this season. They outpaced opponents in the standings with nary a losing streak. They won at home, on the road, in the East and in the West. Backed by the league’s best goaltending, they were clearly the NHL’s top defensive team. Led by 60-goal scorer David Pastrnak and unparalleled depth, they were almost the NHL’s top offensive team, as well.
These data visualizations illustrate how the Bruins steamrolled the NHL this season on their way to history.
Boston vs. everyone
It’s a distant memory now, but the Bruins were expected to struggle at the start of the season. Getting used to a new coach. Missing injured stars Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy. But instead of stumbling out of the gate, Boston sprinted to a 20-3-0 start and set an NHL record by winning its first 14 home games.
The Bruins had consecutive regulation losses only once. Their longest winless streak was three games, also happening only once. With the postseason never in doubt, Boston still dashed to the finish line by winning 26 of its last 30 games.
“Being able to stay focused and learn how to win when chasing records is the closest thing you can do, when you’re having a season like us, to prepare for the playoffs,” Montgomery said.
Everything everywhere all at wins
No matter the time, place or opponent, the Bruins beat everybody this season.
Boston tied the NHL record for road wins in a season (31), shared with the 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings. It also set franchise records for road wins and home wins (34) during its record-breaking season.
The B’s bullied the Western Conference on the road this season, as 14 of its 16 teams failed to register a victory when Boston visited. The only teams that did, quite inexplicably: the Arizona Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks, both currently tabulating their lottery odds.
Overall, 16 teams went winless against the Bruins, with eight of them — including the playoff-bound Colorado Avalanche, Winnipeg Jets, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils — unable to earn even a point against Boston.
‘Everyone is valued’: Boston’s deep scoring
Marchand once offered some advice to teammate Pastrnak: Always aim for 10 goals higher than you think you can score.
“I was aiming for 60 this season,” Pastrnak said. “I wasn’t really thinking I could get there.”
He got there, setting career bests for goals and points. Winger Jake DeBrusk, center Pavel Zacha, and defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Matt Grzelcyk also reached career highs, as the Bruins finished second to the Edmonton Oilers in goals-per-game average. Boston had 12 players score at least 30 points on the season.
Boston’s scoring depth isn’t coincidental. Captain Patrice Bergeron said it’s a byproduct of the camaraderie and chemistry that defines these Bruins. Everyone gets their time to shine.
“We want to make sure everyone is valued and bringing their best,” he said. “It’s someone stepping up every night, and it’s great to see.”
Boston’s ‘elite consistency’ in save percentage
Goalies Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman famously celebrate Bruins victories with an exaggerated hug on the ice. Here’s another reason for them to celebrate: They’ve won the Jennings Trophy as the NHL goalies with the lowest goals-per-game average for their team.
“It’s such a special relationship. To see it translate on the ice for both of us is very special,” Swayman said. “There’s no one I’ll ever meet like him again. I’m just enjoying the ride.”
Montgomery has referred to goaltender Ullmark’s “elite consistency” this season, which is an apt way to describe a goaltender who won 40 games and led the league in save percentage and goals-against average. Between him and Swayman, Boston’s net is very protected, no matter where opponents shoot.