March 28, 2023

American Thanksgiving is right around the corner and the city of Boston has a lot to be thankful for this season, particularly when it comes to the city’s sports. The Boston Bruins are off to one of the best starts in the history of the franchise. Last night they earned their 11th straight win at home with a resounding victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, tying the NHL record for home wins in a row. They’re currently first in the league with a record of 16-2-0 and 32 points, and eight points ahead of the second-place team in the Atlantic Division, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Related: Bruins’ Czechs Checking the Box Through First 15 Games

Prior to the season, many were just hoping that the Bruins would be in playoff contention at this point of the season. No one expected this level of dominance, so it’s hard to narrow down this list to just a few things they should be thankful for.

The Bruins’ Training Staff

Part of the reason why so many people didn’t have the Bruins on their radars to start the season is because of the offseason surgeries for Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy that were supposed to keep them out until December. The Bruins’ training staff seem to be capable of miracles as somehow both players returned a month earlier than originally anticipated.

Charlie McAvoy Boston Bruins
Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While the Bruins performed well in their absence, both Marchand and McAvoy have had instant impacts in their returns. Marchand already has the most powerplay goals on the team with five, and has 14 points in 10 games, ranking him fourth on the team in points. McAvoy has seven points in six games and is a plus-three. He’s also already back to playing 20-plus minutes a game and is coming off a four-point night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The wonders of the Bruins’ training staff do not stop there. Jeremy Swayman suffered a lower-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 1. He was listed as week to week, but returned ahead of schedule only two weeks after the injury. His first game back was last night (Nov. 19) and he looked very solid.

Cliffy Hockey

I’ve already written about the fantastic start Connor Clifton has had to his season, but the “Cliffy Hockey” train is still rolling strong. In 18 games this season, the 27-year-old defenseman has two goals and eight points, and he’s already matched his career-high for goals in a season. He is also on pace to completely smash his previous high of 10 points in 60 games.

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Clifton has been a complete difference-maker on the ice for the Bruins this season. He’s a plus-11 and second on the team for points by a defenseman, only trailing Hampus Lindholm, who is also having a career year. 

This is relatively the same roster that the Bruins had last season when they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Carolina Hurricanes. But the difference between last year’s disappointments and this season’s triumphs is the depth players like Clifton who have completely stepped it up in 2022-23.

Return of Nick Foligno

Another one of those depth players that has stepped it up is Nick Foligno. Last season was a real disappointment for the 35-year-old former captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. After signing a two-year deal in the 2021 offseason that carried an average annual value of $3.8 million, he did not live up to the contract. He had only two goals and 13 total points in 64 games. It was one of the worst years of his career and many thought the Bruins should buy out his contract this past offseason to save some cap space.

Nick Foligno Boston Bruins
Nick Foligno, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Bruins should be very thankful that Foligno has had a complete 180 from last season. So far in 2022-23, he has three goals and 10 points. He’s already surpassed his goal total from 2021-22 and has been instrumental in the resurgence of the bottom six. He now stands out when he’s on the ice and has been one to watch in the games this season.

Increased Bruins Viewership

People in Boston are passionate sports fans. The historic start to the season has brought even more interest to the team in the city. New England Sports Network (NESN), which is now the primary broadcaster of Bruins games, reported this month that household viewership is up 34 percent in impressions versus this time last year.

The report continues to note that in particular, the women 25-54 demographic has experienced a 44 percent jump from 2021-22. In a time when TV viewership is going down across all demographics and subject matters, it’s encouraging for the growth of the NHL and the sport of hockey to hear reports of interest increasing. Above all else, the Bruins should be thankful to the fans that fill the TD Garden each home game and watch throughout the season on their TV screens.

Bruins Have a Lot to be Thankful For

The season has not been flawless, but there are a lot of things the Bruins have to be thankful for. This list could go on and on, from the incredible season of David Pastrnak to the absolutely incredible start to the season Lindholm has had to the continued health of Patrice Bergeron. What it all boils down to is having a team that has completely bought in. The locker room believes in each other and believes in head coach Jim Montgomery. At the moment, almost every player on the roster from the elite top line to the depth players is playing to the best of their potential.

Related: Bruins’ McAvoy Haven’t Missed A Beat Since Returning From Injury

Even when the team has not looked their best, they are finding ways to win, and that is another thing fans and the front office should be thankful for this season. While the likelihood of them winning all 64 remaining games is extremely unlikely, this team is undeniably talented and fun to watch. They’ve proved everyone, including myself, wrong about their Stanley Cup window being closed. This team is a contender and will be one to watch for the rest of the season.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the American readers out there, and don’t forget to tune into the Bruins’ next game on Nov. 21 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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