BOSTON -- The Bruins are off to the best start in franchise history after 10 games in this lockout-shortened season, and theyre sitting atop their division with more than 20 percent of the season already in the books.
Theyve outscored their opponents by a 12-4 margin in the third period this season and theyve ridden some excellent defense and goaltending to a 2.10 goals-against average, good for sixth in the NHL. The Bruins have the best penalty-kill unit in the NHL this season, and have done many of the little things right thus far.
But the Bruins are also far from as good as they can be, and their coach knows it.
If anything, I think weve been consistent, said Claude Julien. Theres no doubt that were going to get better. I think there are still some guys that arent at the peak of their game yet. Thats pretty indicative of how hard were working to score goals.
The Bruins are obviously flailing on the power play, as they have over the last two seasons, and go into Tuesday night ranked 28th in the NHL with a 10.3 percent success rate on the man advantage. That number might improve slightly as the season wears on, but the five-on-five scoring is down a couple of notches from where its been the last few years.
The Bruins are smack in the middle of the NHL rankings while averaging 2.7 goals per game, and the Black and Gold are normally in the top third of NHL teams with a deep, productive offense. The Bruins were second in the NHL in offense while averaging 3.17 goals per game last season, and were fifth in the NHL two years ago with 2.98 goals per game en route to a Stanley Cup.
Clearly the slow start for Tyler Seguin (one non-empty net goal in 10 games played) and the lack of the production from Bostons third line have contributed to the offensive slow going. But theyre not that far off, and Julien thinks there is a high ceiling that hasnt quite been reached by an 8-1-1 hockey club.
Were a better scoring team than what weve shown thus far. I think weve shown that were capable of creating the chances, but right now the finish isnt there, said Julien. Theres certainly room for improvement. But I like where we are at this stage of the season and how weve handled those types of games. But theres a lot more in our hockey club than weve shown so far.
Thats a scary thought for opponents around the NHL: the Bruins are first in the division, second in the conference, have lost just once in regulation through 10 games and have 38 more tilts to keep fine-tuning their hockey club.