When Bruins fans look at the standings these days, they’re not looking at the Northeast Division. They’re looking at the Eastern Conference, and whether the Bruins are in first, second or third. There’s good reason for that -- the B’s are running away with the division.
Not that any of it should come as a shock, of course. The defending Stanley Cup champions were expected to win their division, but weren’t they supposed to be challenged? Should we be ready to call this thing already? Knock on Popeye’s buckets, but it doesn’t look like there will be much of a race for the division this season.
After Wednesday night’s games, the Bruins, with 51 points, lead the second-place Senators by six points. That’s the biggest lead in any division in the NHL right now.
Now consider that the Bruins have played four fewer games than Ottawa, as Boston has played only 36 games this season. Every team with the exception of the Sharks (also with 36) has played more games than the Bruins. Every other team in the Northeast division has played at least three more.
So it really begs the question: Is another team even going to put up a fight for the division lead? The Bruins, who blew the Devils out of the water, 6-1, Wednesday night in New Jersey, aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. If they keep up their play over the last 26 games (22-3-1), not only will they run away with the division, but they’ll run away with the Presidents’ Trophy. Pretty crazy for a team that began November dead last in the Eastern conference.
The lack of competition from the division doesn’t take away from what the Bruins are doing, but it would make for a more interesting regular season if the other teams in the Northeast were close to nipping at Boston’s heels. Nobody imagined the Canadiens would be as disastrous as they’ve been (Lars Eller’s four-goal performance Wednesday excluded), as they sit at 13th in the conference with 37 points. All of the offseason acquisitions haven’t put Buffalo into the playoff picture yet, as its’ 11th (40 points). With 43 points, Toronto (10th) is one point out of a playoff spot, but as of Thursday, the Senators (sixth) are the only team aside from the Bruins to represent the division in the top eight.
Though B’s fans are probably wondering what a team this good will do in the postseason, right now the Bruins are focused on the regular season. Right now, they’re making a mockery of it.
NHL 36 EPISODE ON 37 DISAPPOINTS
People say it all the time, but when it comes to professional athletes, it doesn’t get any more professional than Patrice Bergeron.
Bergeron is a highly-paid superstar, but aside from his play suggesting the latter, he doesn’t act like it. He’s grounded, incredibly polite and doesn’t force himself into the spotlight.
Bergeron isn’t a loud guy, but is described by teammates as being a vocal leader. Of course, that’s all when the doors are closed to the media, and the cameras are off. For that reason, it was exciting to hear that Bergeron was going to be spotlighted on NBC Sports’ NHL 36.
The hope here was that the show, which follows a player behind the scenes for 36 hours, would show that side of Bergeron that only teammates and coaches get to see.
The show aired Wednesday night, and while it let fans see that Bergeron’s a hard-worker who is superstitious about the way he tapes his sticks, it didn’t show much else. Unlike HBO 24/7, it didn’t reveal enough about the character of the player, which in Bergeron’s case would have been fascinating given what a high-character player he is.
The episode covered last week’s trip to Phoenix and the team’s morning skate and game against the Coyotes last Wednesday. This thing could have been a home run if only they showed Bergeron barking directions at teammates and motivating them in the way that both media members and fans never get to see. Instead, it was a gaggle of little tidbits that collectively didn’t amount to a whole lot.
Make no mistake -- the show had its entertaining moments (a mistaken Brad Marchand referring to Bergeron as the team’s captain was certainly comical) and it was interesting to see Bergeron’s friendship with Daniel Paille highlighted. It isn’t surprising that Bergeron and Paille would get along, as Paille too is the type to go about his business, and quietly do everything the right way.
While the show had its bright spots, the 30-minute special left much to be desired. For a behind-the-scenes show, it ultimately failed to capitalize on the behind-the-scenes part.
In the end, the show ended up being just a small part of a big night for Bergeron, as he stole the show (crappy pun intended) Wednesday in New Jersey with his two-goal performance. In that way, it’s good to see Bergeron get some attention. It’s hard to say whether he’ll ever win the Selke Award, but the more recognition he gets as one of the game’s best two-way forwards, the better for the sport.