Tis’ the season to be jolly, Bruins fans. Our beloved black n’ gold go into their 3-day holiday break sitting in second place in the Atlantic Division and have exceeded most expectations so far this season. They have been able to do this by receiving a few early Christmas gifts in the process.
Here is BostonPucks.com list of the beautifully wrapped gifts they have received so far this year:
1. Landon Ferraro; The “Stocking Stuffer” Gift
The stocking stuffer is the most underrated gift every Christmas. It usually doesn’t cost much, maybe an unexpected purchase, but it ends up being a big hit. It’s something that by the end of the day everyone in the house is playing with it and wishing they had one as well.
Landon Ferraro is that gift to the Bruins from the Detroit Red Wings. On November 22nd The Red Wings placed Landon Ferraro on waivers and Boston scooped him right up. The Red Wings were trying to send Ferraro down to their AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins and hoped he could quietly slide through waivers to get there. Not so fast my friend.
Ferraro has now played 14 games for the ‘Black n’ Gold’ and has 7 points (3 goals and 4 assists). He has settled in nicely as a key fourth line contributor and has shown his versatility when coach Claude Julien moves up in the lineup to the Bergeron/Marchand line. Ferraro has stablized the fourth line and has given the Bruins much needed depth since the injury to Chris Kelly. GM Don Sweeney and the Bruins’ Pro Scouts deserve a ton of credit for this pickup. They identified a player that would be able to help them and they put in a claim to get him. Claude is also using Ferraro on the penalty kill now as he gains his trust. Landon Ferraro is having a similar type of impact on the Bruins that Gregory Campbell had when he joined the 2011 team.
2. Frank Vatrano; The “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out” Gift
The exciting gift that scares people. It looks cool, it shoots things, it’s hot in the market, and you can’t wait to see it in action. They’re about as fun as it gets.
Frank Vatrano is that gift that the Bruins got early this year. And he’ definitely shoot your eye out. The Bruins scouting staff deserves a lot of credit for signing Vatrano. They identified a player that could help the organization and they got Vatrano to sign with his home town team after just one season at UMASS-Amherst.
Vatrano has given the Bruins a shot of youthful enthusiasm. He, Ryan Spooner, and Jimmy Hayes, have found some chemistry lately and they have been getting results. Vatrano works his tail off and does a lot of the little things that some young players typically do not do at this stage of their careers. Did I mention that Vatrano has a lethal Red Ryder shot that he has displayed on 3 of his 5 goals this year?
He’s also committed himself to fitness and becoming a better player to make it to the NHL. Although Vatrano was listed at 215 pounds in college he is now listed at 201 pounds. This guy is committed and looks to be a huge gift the Bruins got this year.
3. Jonas Gustavsson, The “Scratch-off Ticket” Gift
Ahh, the scratch-off gift. Everyone gets one. Each year you hope you have a winner but you really don’t know. Sometimes you win when you play it, sometimes you lose, but you always feels like you have a chance when you play. And when you win it’s always a bonus. Gustavsson has been that lucky ticket for the Bruins.
Like a scratch-off ticket Jonas Gustavsson came to the Bruins this season on with the long shot odds of Professional Tryout contract. The 6’4″ goalie beat out Jeremy Smith for the job to backup Tuukka Rask in net. So far Gustavsson has been huge for the Bruins. He has given the team a chance to win every time he starts.
He’s been a true difference maker between this year’s team and last year’s team. Claude has a backup goalie in Gustavsson that he trusts and now doesn’t have to rely so heavily on Tuukka to play 70+ games in the regular season. The Bruins will be a better team in April because of Gustavsson being able to give Tuukka some rest.
There is no denying that the Bruins relied too heavily on Tuukka last year and maybe he ran out of some gas at the end. Baring an injury that should not happen this year and Tuukka will go into April fresh and ready to go. So far Gustavsson has appeared in 10 of the Bruins 33 games. If this pace stays the same Gustavvson will play in about 20 games. Currently he is 6-2-1, with a 2.43 GAA, and .912 Save Percentage.
The Bruins received a huge, low cost gift with this pickup. Gustavsson came into training camp with no gaurantees of winning an NHL job with the Bruins. But the Bruins scratched the right winner.
4. Bruins Power Play, The “Gift I REALLY Wanted” Gift
Every year there’s a must have gift. It’s on the top of your list and if you don’t have a list it’s probably because your prized dream gift is all you need. It’s the thing that matters to you. It makes Christmas the best. And if you get it you’re rolling in it. This year, the Bruins got a power play they’ve always wanted.
As of right now the Boston Bruins have the #1 ranked power play in the NHL. They are clicking at a fantastic rate 28.9% That’s a full 3 points better than the #2 Washington Capitals power play, and 5 points better than #3 Dallas Stars. What’s more is the Bruins are once again right at the bottom of the league in power play attempts where they routinely sit due to their hard play and lack of theatrics to draw penalties. It’s no surprise the Canadiens lead the league in power play attempts with 33 more than Boston. That’s an average of 1 more per game. Just imagine if the Bruins were handed an extra power play each game?
Also, the Bruins power play has only given up 1 short handed goal this year. 19 of the 30 NHL teams have given up at least 2 or more. Boston is not only scoring on their attempts at a higher rate than most teams but when given the opportunity they are safer with the puck and minimizing the opponents opportunities as well.
Looking back even to the 2011 Stanley Cup team, whose power play was atrocious, it’s hard for any of us to imagine the Bruins would ever be this good on the man advantage someday. It’s a Christmas miracle for us all.