The 2022-23 National Hockey League (NHL) regular season is now in the history books, with all 32 teams completing their 82 fixtures. However, the season is far from over because the not-so-small matter of the playoffs leads to the coveted Stanley Cup, professional ice hockey’s most prestigious prize. Which teams are in contention for Stanley Cup glory, and which will most likely return home to their adoring fans with the trophy in tow?
Anyone who knows how to bet on hockey knows a team’s form’s significant role in their playoff success. The likes of the Toronto Maples Leafs and Dallas Stars are on four and five-game winning streaks, respectively. The Edmonton Oilers, who last won the Stanley Cup in 1989-90, are unbeaten in nine games, but the team on everyone’s lips right now is the record-breaking Boston Bruins, who look unstoppable in their quest for their seventh Stanley Cup victory.
After finishing fourth in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference during the 2021-22 campaign, nobody expected the Boston Bruins to be as dominating as they have been during the current season. One would argue even the Boston Bruins players and coaching staff would never have expected such an incredible regular season to occur, a record-breaking regular season.
In 2021-22, the Bruins finished with a 51-26-5 record, scoring 255 goals and allowing 220, for a goal difference of only +35. The turnaround this year has been nothing short of phenomenal, with the Bruins enjoying a 65-12-5 record, scoring 305 goals and allowing only 177 for a goal difference of +128! Not only did the Bruins score the second-most goals in the entire league (Edmonton scored 325), but they also conceded 36 fewer than the next nest team, Carolina Hurricanes.
Of the 82 regular season games, Boston Bruins’ fans returned home without maximum points only 17 times. Only the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils came close to matching that figure, and they both endured 30 defeats.
After defeating the New Jersey Devils 2-1 on April 8, the Bruins tied the record for most wins in an 82-game regular season. The Bruins would have been forgiven for taking their foot off the gas, but these Bruins are no ordinary team. They finished the campaign with victories over the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens, setting a new benchmark in the NHL record books for the number of wins (65) and the number of points (133) during an 82-game season.
Everyone must pull together for a team to enjoy such a remarkable season as the Bruins have. That is the case with this group of players; everyone has chipped in on offense and defense. However, one man stands out from the crowd, a player that racked up 113 points during his everpresent season, David Pastrnak.
Pastrnak is a 26-year-old right winger who hails from the Czech Republic. After starting his professional career in his native Czech Republic, the Bruins selected Pastrnak 25th overall in the 2014 NHL Draft. After playing for the Providence Bruins for a season, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, Pastrnak broke into the Boston Bruins’ first team during the 2014-15 season. While he was not spectacular, you could see his precocious talent.
Since the 2017-18 campaign, Pastrnak has been the centerpiece of the Bruins’ blistering attack, although his record this year is the best of his career. From 82 games played, Pastrnak scored 61 goals and 52 assists for 113 points, which is astonishing. When you have someone like Patrnak on your team, it is difficult to lose games.
So what is the answer to the question in the title of this article? Can anyone stop the record-breaking Boston Bruins? While nothing is impossible in hockey, it is challenging to see how anyone can halt this Bruins team in their tracks, so a seventh Stanley Cup victory looks all but guaranteed.