Don’t look now but the Bruins are now kings of the Eastern Conference jungle.
Sure the Black and Gold are far from a perfect hockey club, and one seriously wonders if the absence of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg will be their ultimate undoing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But the Bruins have won a season-high five games in a row after topping the Florida Panthers by a 5-2 score on Sunday afternoon, and head into this week’s important divisional match against the Montreal Canadiens as one of the best teams coming out of the Olympic break.
The recent surge coming out of the Olympics was surely aided by whipping up on the Florida teams over the weekend. The Bruins have now won a combined 16 straight games against the Panthers and Lightning, and certainly have to be happy that Gary Bettman has brought them closer to the Boston fold with the NHL realignment.
The successful weekend in the Sunshine State put Boston back into the exact level the Bruins want to play at both offensively and defensive, and also pushed them over an injury-depleted Pittsburgh Penguins team for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Pens are holding strong at a decent 5-3-2 over the last 10 games, but they’re a few games off the blistering pace Boston has been holding for nearly two months.
The B’s also hold a commanding 12-point lead over the second place Canadiens in the division, and with roughly a month to go in the season nobody is going to catch them in the Atlantic Division.
“Hopefully it’s for more than a day,” said Claude Julien to reporters following Sunday afternoon’s game. “I know they play two in the next two days, but we’ve worked hard to get ourselves back up to the top of the conference. From the looks of things it’s going to be a battle right down to the very end.”
It may be short-lived as the Bruins have a slim one point lead with 89 points, and with one game in hand against a busy Penguins team as Julien alluded to. But it’s been a long time coming with the Black and Gold. They are in the middle of a 13-2-3 stretch dating back to a Jan. 17 win over the Dallas Stars, which was broken up by a little thing called the Sochi Winter Olympics.