Lengthy points streak elevating Bruins in Atlantic Division

It has been more than a month since the Boston Bruins last lost in regulation, going 10-0-3 since losing to the Washington Capitals on December 14. Boston defeated the rival Montreal Canadiens for the second time in five days on Wednesday, cruising to a 4-1 win on the strength of five points from its top line and a defense that limited Montreal to just 22 shots in a typically dominant performance from the hottest team in the NHL.

The Bruins started the season in a much more tentative manner due to various factors, including injuries to veterans like David Krejci and uncharacteristically shaky play from starting goaltender Tuukka Rask. Boston began December on the edge of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, with its scoring produced almost entirely by the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. It was the development of some scoring depth - as well as a stellar month from Rask - that put the Bruins on the path of their lengthy points streak.

With Krejci finally looking healthy enough to appear in games on a regular basis, Boston suddenly has scoring from three separate forward lines. Krejci is playing with Ryan Spooner, who has 15 points in 23 games, as well as Jake DeBrusk, who is on pace for a 50-point rookie campaign. A third line of David Backes, Riley Nash, and rookie Danton Heinen had an incredibly productive month in December, and Heinen - a fourth-round pick in 2014 - has been something of a revelation for the Bruins, sitting fourth in the league in rookie scoring with 31 points. Equally impressive is rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who leads Boston’s blue-liners with 24 points.

The Bruins face the Canadiens again on Saturday, and the frequent matchups with division rivals like Montreal have played to Boston’s advantage. Against the Atlantic Division the Bruins are 8-1-2, which is an arguably better record than the division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning’s 9-3-1. As long as Boston continues to dominate its division and its rookies keep scoring, a return to the postseason is almost guaranteed.