Hi! Welcome to The Wraparound, the professional hockey column of The Tufts Daily. Whether you’re a diehard NHL fan or someone who enjoys the occasional diving save you’re in the right place. Every other Thursday I’ll recap what’s going on around the National Hockey League — scores, stats, standings, trades — while adding some of my own thoughts and opinions towards the end. Let’s get right to it!
There’s no denying that this inaugural issue must have a local focus. Let’s face it: The Boston Bruins should be the talk of the entire league. More than half a season in, they are the NHL’s crème de la crème, boasting a 38–5–4 record. On Jan. 5, Boston tied the 1944–45 Montréal Canadiens in becoming the second fastest team to reach 30 wins in NHL history — only second to the 1929–30 Bruins.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Black and Gold’s stellar season is that no one saw it coming. Longtime head coach Bruce Cassidy was fired after a disappointing first-round loss against the Hurricanes last spring. The summer consisted of several critical injury announcements: Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk were not expected to lace up the skates until November or December.
But the Bruins have exceeded expectations in historic ways. The hiring of coach Jim Montgomery after Cassidy’s firing last season has proven to be genius, with Montgomery now a favorite for the Jack Adams Coach of the Year award. Forward Jake DeBrusk — though currently injured — is having a career year with 16 goals thus far. Linus Ullmark became the fastest goaltender in NHL history to 25 wins in his second year in Boston.
The Bruins are sitting pretty atop the NHL’s Atlantic Division, and will undoubtedly be hosting a first round playoff series come April, an edge that could be crucial considering their inability to win on the road in Carolina last year. The core isn’t getting any younger with Marchand, captain Patrice Bergeron and Taylor Hall all in their thirties. If this is the Bruins’ last ride, it has started as an amazing one.
A few other thoughts from around the league:
- Could the Vancouver Canucks have handled the firing of coach Bruce Boudreau any worse? It was publicly known that Boudreau was a goner for months, yet Vice President Jim Rutherford refused to fire him until the new year. The Canucks need an entire facelift — one that newly hired Rick Tocchet hopes to be a part of.
- If the Bruins are hot, the New Jersey Devils are simmering. The surprise team of the year, the Devils have gone from No. 28 in the NHL to No. 3. Jack Hughes? Superstar. Dougie Hamilton? Point-producing dynamo. New Jersey has an excellent core for years to come.
- At this point it’s an annual discussion: Are the Edmonton Oilers really going to waste an otherworldly Connor McDavid season? McDavid — or McJesus, as some say — is on pace to become just the sixth player in history to top 150 points in a single season. The Oilers hover around a wildcard spot, and there would be no greater atrocity than a McDavid-less postseason.