The Bruins won their 9th straight Monday night against the Minnesota Wild in convincing fashion. Jarome Iginla scored twice. Loui Eriksson scored as well, and Reilly Smith scored his 19th of the season. Zdeno Chara had two assists.
Iginla has scored 25 goals this season, and as I think about his potential contributions in the upcoming playoffs, I can’t help but imagine how much he might have helped the Bruins last year. When the B’s faced the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals, they had run out of healthy and performing forwards. Iginla might have been the difference, or at least helped the Bruins force the series to 7 games. At least he’s part of the team now.
Tuukka Rask made a couple of big saves in this game, much to Mikko Koivu’s chagrin. Rask stopped 33 of 34. As part of this 9 game winning streak he’s won 6 times, only allowing 9 goals (1.5 per game) with a save percentage of .947 (161 saves on 170 shots).
But the big story of the streak has been the offense. The B’s have scored 36 goals in the last 9 games. If you’ve forgotten your multiplication tables, that’s 4 goals per game.
One reason for the offensive success is the IKEA line of Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. The two Swedish Fish combined for a goal Monday night and have combined for 5 goals in this streak. Not bad for the third line.
So 14 goals from the top line + 5 goals from the Swedish connection + contributions from everyone else + Rask playing well in net = 9 straight wins.
The Bruins now stand with 97 points, first in the Eastern Conference (5 points ahead of Pittsburgh), tied for the second best record in the NHL. With 14 games remaining, the Bruins have a 16 point lead over Tampa Bay and Montreal in the divisional race. The B’s are 13 points away from clinching the division and home ice in the first two rounds. They’re 7 points away from clinching a playoff spot.
They now embark on a weird road trip, playing in New Jersey Tuesday night, then Colorado on Friday and Phoenix on Saturday. The Bruins end the season with 15 games in 23 days, so clinching stuff will give them a chance to rest key players (Iginla, Chara, Rask) for the playoffs.