What a difference a deadline makes.
After treading water and holding onto the final playoff spot in the East Division for over a month due to a mix of injuries, COVID complications and general underperformance, the Bruins' deadline deals for Taylor Hall, Mike Reilly and Curtis Lazar seems to have both retooled and reinvigorated the roster — with Boston reeling off four consecutive victories in the past week, including three wins over fellow East Division contenders in the Islanders and Capitals.
And while the contributions of Hall, Lazar and Reilly have already been felt, they are far from the only reason why Boston is suddenly looking like a Cup contender once again in just the span of a few days. Here are a look at some stats worth noting when it comes to sizing up Boston's impressive late-season turnaround — and assessing where there is still plenty of room to grow on this roster.
.947 - Tuukka Rask and Jeremy Swayman's save percentage on high-danger shots
Even though Boston has outscored the Sabres, Islanders and Capitals by a 16-6 margin during its winning streak, a few of these lopsided decisions could have been much closer — had it not been for the play of both Tuukka Rask and Jeremy Swayman in net. Rask has been superb since returning from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for 17 out of a total 18 games for Boston, with the B's No. 1 netminder posting a .929 save percentage en route to two wins. Swayman has arguably been even better — only relinquishing two goals on 48 total shots this past week (.958 save percentage) while recording his first career shutout on Friday against the Islanders.
And while both netminders are more than holding their own when it comes to handling high volumes of shots and not triggering changes in momentum by coughing up "bad" goals, what has stood out as of late is just how many Grade-A looks, breakaways and other quality chances that Rask and Swayman are turning aside with regularity.
In total, the Sabres, Islanders and Capitals have generated 19 high-danger shots against the Bruins over these last four games — and Boston only letting one of those attempts sail into their net.
(For reference, even boasting a high-danger save percentage of around .820/.830 is pretty spectacular. Even the NHL leader among starting goalies in Andrei Vasilevskiy has a high-danger save percentage of just .858 on the season).
Rask in particular was impressive on Sunday afternoon against the Caps, with that high-powered Washington offense generating 11 total high-danger looks against Boston in a game that could have been much, much closer than that 6-3 final.
The play of Swayman has been encouraging, no doubt. But if Boston has its eyes on a fruitful playoff run this summer, it's going to need an effective (and healthy) Rask between the pipes.
"I felt good. Injury-wise, I felt really good," Rask said after Thursday's win over New York. "I felt no pain, nothing whatsoever so that was mission accomplished there. If you sit out, I don't how many weeks, a month, whatever, you're not gonna simulate game-like situations especially with the schedule we have now. "I think I had maybe two, three team practices all together and everything else was with the extra guys and goaltending coach. Conditioning wise, and how I saw the puck today, was not ideal but got the win. I think we played a great game, helped me a lot. Build from this."
8.3% - Boston's power-play success rate during four-game winning streak
The play of Rask/Swayman might mask just how close some of these decisive victories might have been, but you could also make the argument that Boston could have really run up the score if their power play (especially their top unit) was clicking. Since losing Matt Grzelcyk to injury back on April 10, the Bruins have only cashed in twice on 20 power-play chances — including just one tally in 12 bids during this four-game winning streak.
And even when Boston has managed to generate chances and bury looks on the power play as of late, it's been more of the second unit that's done most of the heavy lifting — with Craig Smith responsible for all three of Boston's power-play strikes over a seven-game stretch.