A five-game overall winning streak and perfect 10-0-0 start to the home slate have helped the Boston Bruins climb atop the NHL standings entering Saturday's game against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
The season is long, however. They have to stay the course.
"It's hard to win one game, but winning this many games is crazy. Nobody expected that," veteran center David Krejci said. "We're staying even keel here, focusing on the task at hand. ... We always put the game behind us and move on."
The Bruins scored three times in the third period to secure a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Krejci scored twice in a span of 6:17 to record his first multi-goal game this season.
Tomas Nosek has scored goals in consecutive contests to boost his point streak to four games (two goals, two assists). Nick Foligno set up a pair of goals to give him 300 assists for his career.
The strong finish was necessary because of a slower start, which Bruins coach Jim Montgomery attributed to a season-long, three-day break between games.
"I think our guys were too excited to play," Montgomery said. "Our puck movement was really good, but we were skating out of position. Offensively, and especially defensively, we were skating out in the middle of the ice a lot, which is uncommon for us."
After Saturday, the coming week features three games in five days.
"I think we really enjoy playing and (Montgomery's system is) tailored to a lot of the guys in the room," Foligno said. "We feel that when we are playing, we know where guys are supposed to be."
Montgomery said he is leaning toward starting Jeremy Swayman in net for Saturday's game. It will be the goaltender's first game action since he sustained a lower-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 1.
Defenseman Jakub Zboril didn't practice Friday due to illness. He is considered day-to-day.
The Blackhawks visit Boston having lost consecutive games and eight of their past 10 (2-5-3). They are coming off a 5-2 setback to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.
The absence of defenseman Seth Jones due to a thumb injury has not helped. Chicago coach Luke Richardson says the team is buying time without Jones, who was placed on injured reserve Nov. 1.
Replacing him is a team effort, one that will see Ian Mitchell enter into the fold after he was recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League on Friday.
"I think it's a collective group, not just the six D in the lineup, but we got to play better defensively and help kill those plays and get going on offense, so ... we don't overwork guys that are maybe playing (up in the lineup)," Richardson said.
Playing from behind has been another obstacle for Chicago.
"I think (it's difficult) any time you're playing without the lead or trying to come back," forward Andreas Athanasiou said. "We've done a lot this year, but it's a tough way to win consistently. ... If you don't have the lead you want to keep it as minimal as you can."
--Field Level Media