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The Bruins Are Kicking Ass In The Preseason

12:17 PM EST on January 8, 2023

Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman celebrate a Bruins win
Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

Here at Defector, our hockey biases lean east on the map and south in the standings. Comrade Theisen, for example, works devotedly in support of the Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres, and since she is éditeur du jour and can destroy us with a single arched eyebrow, we support her leanings as though they were mandated by the ghost of Gordie Howe himself.

But at some point the herd of elephants in the lobby must be acknowledged, which is to say that the Boston Bruins are behaving as though they might be the best team ever. And we say this not because Brad Marchand is standing behind us threatening to eat our eyes, but because through half of this season, they certainly are.

After last night's desultory 4-2 victory over San Jose, the Bruins are on pace to finish the season with 139 points, seven more than the record-setting 1977 Stanley Cup abuser Montreal Canadiens. Their last regulation defeat came Dec. 6 in the cauldron of Mullett Arena, and the only part of their schedule that leaves a person doubting their endurance is the two losses to Ottawa, which is otherwise a Mardi Gras of mediocrity. They are even one of the two best teams against the spread through 39 games despite getting the worst of the line routinely, because they are so relentless about their winning. In short, you can watch them or bet on them and get the same result.

Oh, and we could bore you with tales of David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron and Linus Ullmark and all the other little elves who make them so good, but I'm not Pierre LeBrun and you're not One-Eyed Butchie in Weymouth calling on line two. They're 31-4-4, have twice the goal differential of any other team, have scored the most goals and allowed the fewest, and, thanks partly to a big Fenway crowd last week, have pulled in the most home fans of anyone in the league. You don't need to know about Charlie Coyle.

But the beauty of the National Hockey League, oxymoron though that might be, is that regular seasons mean as much as having more money in your change jar than anyone else. You either skate in a circle with a gigantic Thermos in June or your coach needs a good firing—which coincidentally the Bruins did last year to Bruce Cassidy. The new coach, Jim Montgomery, is OK enough as these things go, but the Bruins have won one Stanley Cup since Bobby Orr had two good knees and hired 19 coaches to remedy that. Jim Montgomery is the latest of those, and the message is as clear as to him as it was to the others: Do it in June or end up trying to fix Arizona.

The Bruins have won more regular season games and than any team since 1972, and they've won more than anyone since 2011, too, so they do this stuff pretty consistently. They're just doing it better now, which would be comforting for Jack Edwards and less committed Bruins fans if not for the fact that, since 2003, only two Presidents' Trophy winners have gotten a parade, while five have been upset in the first round of the playoffs.

In sum, the Boston Bruins are serious good at a time when being serious good is mostly for show. We'll check back on them when the season starts.

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