With trips to western Canada, Florida and the West Coast still on the docket in the Boston Bruins’ final 22 games, it might be hard for them to continue the pace they’re currently on with wins in 9 of 10.

But whether or not they can keep it up and hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins headed for Edmonton feeling pretty good. And deservedly so. Not only had they amassed 18 of a possible 20 points in their last 10 games, they are actually playing better now than they were in the first two months of the season, when they ripped off a 19-3-5 record.

During this 10-game swing, they have allowed just 11 goals, with the 3-1 loss in Detroit the only time they’ve allowed more than two goals in a game (the third one in that lone loss was an empty-netter). Their commitment to the 200-foot game was illustrated well in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Madison Square Garden. In the second period with the Bruins still clinging to a 1-0 lead, it appeared the Rangers were about to break in on an odd-man rush when Jake DeBrusk, usually no threat for the Selke, hustled on the backcheck and snuffed out the threat with a terrific stick check

Things like that get noticed on the bench.

“We’re playing complete games,” said Charlie McAvoy, who has goals in consecutive games. “Every game is not going to be perfect, you’re going to have lapses and mistakes. That’s natural. But we’re finding a way to play our game for a much larger percentage than when we have those lapses. Sometimes we’d play a good 40 and then a lousy 20. That would cost us. But we’ve been able to string together a couple of good games where we’ve played really well, our special teams have played well and we’re able to keep those mistakes to a minimum and find the result that we want.”

With four two-day breaks between games in the last two-plus weeks, the Bruins have not only been afforded some rest but also practice time.


“We’re playing good hockey, really good hockey right now,” said Brad Marchand. “It just seems like everybody’s finding the chemistry on their lines and knows where they fit in. And we have a healthy team. That’s the biggest thing. When your group’s healthy, you’re able to practice a lot together and build that chemistry, work on things, get comfortable with the system and the changes that we make. We have a lot of depth in our group and when we play together a lot, it’s going to come out in the games.”

There was a time in November when the Bruins relied on late comebacks and various other dramatics to pull out points, a habit that led to the inevitable doldrums of December and early January. But since blowing a three-goal lead in Pittsburgh on Jan. 19, the Bruins seem to have taken an enough-is-enough approach.

“We want to win games, but feel good doing it,” said Charlie Coyle. “Just details, details. Blocking shots for (Anders) Bjork. Jake DeBrusk on the backcheck, great stick. Just those little things, and that’s what we need. Guys buying in like that every game, especially at this time of year and into the playoffs when its so crucial to do those things. It’s nice to see guys doing that and pitching in in different ways.”

McAVOY HEATS UP: For more than half the season, McAvoy could not buy a goal. Now they’re coming in bunches.

McAvoy, who did not score his first goal of the season until Game 55 when he notched the overtime winner at Chicago, has scored three goals in six games. The one he scored on Sunday in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Rangers was not a thing of beauty – a pool cue shot that popped in the air and eluded New York goalie Alexander Georgiev – but no one was complaining.

And they sure are not complaining about McAvoy’s overall game, either. In Sunday’s victory, McAvoy again played like the No. 1 defenseman he’s become at the ripe age of 22, calmly skating the puck out of trouble and settling the play down. He’s even listening to his coaches and shooting the puck every now and then. He took five shots on Sunday, two that hit the net.


Once a diehard Rangers fan, the Long Island native’s first goal was his first in five visits to Madison Square Garden.

“That was really cool,” said McAvoy. “Growing up and being a big fan of the Rangers and going to games here, that’s special no matter what. It’s been fun coming here and playing and we’ve had pretty good success.”

While the easy narrative is that the first goal took the weight of the world off his shoulders and now he’s playing more freely, McAvoy said he’s felt pretty confident even before the goals came.

“Honestly, I don’t want to pat myself on the back, but I think I was fine,” said McAvoy. “I knew I hadn’t scored, but I wasn’t losing sleep at night. I was finding things to be happy about in my game. But since that point, yeah, it has been nice getting a couple in a short amount of time. More importantly, getting two wins on that back to back, that’s what feels best.”

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