The Boston Bruins were the best team in the NHL last season and have an argument to be this season. The first-round exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was a major disappointment, but that doesn’t take away from what they did in the regular season.

They responded in a similar way this year, sitting with 44 points, which is tied for the third most in the NHL. The Bruins are 19-7-6 and have a 15-point goal differential, the second-best in the Eastern Conference

However, some of the recent struggles have been a call for concern. The team has lost four straight and fans are starting to panic. Given their failures in the playoffs last year, it makes sense why fans are getting worried. Will Boston do what they did last season and lose when it matters most? Is this a sign of what’s to come?

With the postseason issues last year, the Bruins understand that they’ll be looked at under a microscope. They’ll even be judged unfairly until they show they can win when it matters most.

The struggles recently, however, shouldn’t have fans worried. Boston understands they need to be better, and they will be moving forward. Head coach Jim Montgomery recently spoke about what the team needs to do better, noting they need to show more effort.

I liked the first 15 minutes of our game, and I liked the last 10 minutes of our game,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “We just need more concerted effort. People [have] got to stay in the moment.

They can’t worry about their previous shift or worry about what’s happening in five minutes. They’ve got to focus and reset and go out there for that next shift. As a staff, we’ve got to do a better job here of making sure guys stay in the moment.

The Bruins’ struggles have been interesting, to say the least. The team has lost four straight, with two losses coming against the Minnesota Wild. The Wild have been one of the worst teams in hockey and sit in seventh place in the Central Division.

Both games were decided by one goal, and both were decided in overtime or the third period. While the losses are always disappointing, the discourse around them has been misleading.

The Bruins lost four straight, but three of them came within one goal, and two were lost in overtime. If the puck bounced slightly differently, there wouldn’t be any concern about this team.

Looking at the season as a whole shows what Boston is capable of doing. This team wins games when they keep the puck out of the net, as evidenced by their 85 goals given up. 85 is the fewest in the Eastern Conference and third-fewest in hockey.

Jeremy Swayman has been incredible in the net this season, allowing just 3.25 goals per game, a .928 save percentage, and two shutouts. Those figures are all top-four.

Offensively, the Bruins could be better. They’ve scored 100 goals, the third-fewest in the Atlantic Division and fifth-fewest in the Eastern Conference. The offence is led by David Pastrnak, who has the fifth most points in the NHL with 44 this season. Still, Pastrnak knows they need to be better, pointing out the penalty issues this season.

Hard to win in this league if you give up so many penalties,” Pastrnak said. “We definitely have to be more disciplined.

The past few games haven’t gone the Bruins’ way, but they ultimately should figure it out soon. They defend at the highest of levels, and that’s going to carry them all season, especially in the playoffs.

Expect them to be better with guys like Pastrnak, Jeremy Swayman, and captain Brad Marchand, who challenges the team to compete more.

Will and compete is what it comes down to,” Boston captain Brad Marchand said. “Seems like we’re losing a lot of battles that we should be winning. We’re not having that second effort, where when you watch the tape back and you see the second effort and compete level that other teams have right now that are doing well and having success. We need to up it right now.

This veteran Boston team is ready to bring their best as they head into 2024.

More analytics on NHL: