No. 9: Boston Bruins, 15/1
Record: 21-14-5, 47 points
After not maing the playoffs last season, the Bruins are back and currently in the position to win the first wild-card spot, and within nine points of the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers. I think this is the best team in its division that has been raising eyebrows all year. They are the typical Eastern Conference team. They combine three lines of solid offensive production with gritty players that will staple teams to the boards all night long. They are near the top of the league in powerplay percentage and goals for this season. Players like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, who both head the top Boston line, are putting the puck in the net at a rate of just over three times a game. They are not a terribly fast team, but they will body players out and get the position they want to create chances.
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They also have a bright young star in David Pastrnak who could break out in the playoffs, as rookies love to put on shows in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
On the back end, Zdeno Chara leads the defense to a middle-of-the-pack goals-against mark. They have size on the blue line and love to block shots and create chances going the other way, as they have many assists going down to even the third defensive pairing, on which Torey Krug has 17 assists and three goals on the season.
If you watched “Road to the Winter Classic,” you are already familiar with this team and know that it is a loose group that likes to have fun, and you know that Jimmy Hayes‘ family is one of the most stereotypical Bostonian families you’ll find. But anyway, I really like this team and will keep and eye on it when the playoffs roll around.
Next: No. 8: St. Louis Blues