Apr 9, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) and left wing Tomas Nosek (92) celebrate win against the Philadelphia Flyers breaking the NHL single-season wins record at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Much like life itself, hockey is a game of ebbs and flows. Some weeks you’re the butcher, some weeks you’re the slab of meat on the table. In this installment, we’ll examine one NHL team that falls into each category. And because we live in a “What have you done for me lately?” kind of world, we’re really leaning into recency bias and doing our best to overreact to the recent trends.

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As such, here are the best and worst teams in the world this week — the final week of the 2022-23 NHL regular season.

Best team in the world this week: Boston Bruins

Obviously. It’s only fitting that the team that has found itself here so many times this season will finish it on the throne.

Boston has been so good that, on several occasions, I’ve had to jump through some hoops and do brain gymnastics in order to spread the love around and highlight a variety of teams. But if ever there was a week where it made overwhelming sense to place the spotlight back on the Bruins, it’s the week where they officially became the winningest regular-season team in NHL history.

With a 5-3 victory in Philadelphia on Sunday, Boston earned its 63rd win to set a new NHL single-season record. The Bruins moved past the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning to become the first team in the league's 105-year history to record 63 victories in a regular season.

The win in Philly was Boston's sixth straight and its 13th in its last 14 games. It was also the fourth-straight weekend in which the Bruins have swept a back-to-back.

Despite a lengthy group of inactives that included Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Charlie McAvoy, Taylor Hall, Dmitry Orlov, Taylor Hall, Derek Forbort and Nick Foligno, Boston still managed to secure its place in history. And while the team’s milestone took center stage, the record-setting benchmark was met thanks in large part to the achievements of David Pastrnak.

Pastrnak recorded three goals on Sunday, elevating his season total to 60 and an even 300 for his career. Hitting two clean personal milestones with one goal? That’s satisfyingly neat. Doing it on the third goal of a hat trick? That’s a chef’s kiss.

Pastrnak becomes just the second player in the franchise's 99-year history to reach 60 goals in a season (Phil Esposito did it four times), and he joined Connor McDavid in this year's 60-goal club, marking the first time that the NHL has had two 60-goal scorers in the same season since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr accomplished it as Pittsburgh Penguins teammates in 1995-96.

With 131 points in the standings and two games remaining on the schedule (Tuesday at home against the Washington Capitals, Thursday at Montreal Canadiens), the Bruins likely will break the all-time single-season record of 132 points held by the 1976-77 Canadiens.

The debate has started on whether this Boston squad is truly the best and most impressive team in regular-season history. Skeptics will highlight regulation wins and an absence of ties as a way to argue against the Bruins in comparison to the 1976-77 Canadiens or the 1995-96 Red Wings, but supporters have some ammunition to support Boston’s claim.


Are the record-breaking Bruins the best NHL team ... ever?

You can certainly argue that the league, with its parity and quality of competition, is in a better place, especially after the league went through rapid expansion while also competing with the WHA in the 1970s. While the late-'70s Habs teams were historically great, they also shared the ice with some historically bad teams.

The Red Wings hit 62 wins before the shootout provided another avenue to victory, but it’s not like Boston has relied on the shootout this season. The Bruins are 4-3 in the skills competition, meaning they would still have 59 regulation and overtime wins to this point.

Possibly the biggest separating factor between these Bruins and those Red Wings and Canadiens teams? The salary cap. Boston should get plenty of props for delivering dominance under cap limitations.

With 32 teams and a hard cap, attaining this level of success over an 82-game season is unprecedented and almost unfathomable. These days, the NHL is more or less structured to prevent this kind of outright dominance, but the Bruins achieved it anyway.

To put things in perspective, take a look at the top goal share metrics for teams in the NHL's expansion era:

The only teams in the last 40 years to make that list are the 2022-23 Bruins and the 1995-96 Red Wings. That should help illustrate how much tougher it has become to create a massive gap between any one team and the rest of the league. Boston is the only team on the list to do it under the salary cap.

At the very least, the Bruins unquestionably crack the shortlist of best regular-season teams ever, and they have a pretty solid case for taking the crown — a case that will only get a little bit stronger if they keep rolling and win their final two games. After that, the pressure is really on.

Regular-season success is notable and commendable, but it becomes a lot easier to discredit or forget without playoff success attached. Boston is in the conversation for best regular-season team ever, but it's a few months away from elevating that discussion to best team ever, period.

This time next week, focus will shift to the Bruins following up this absurd season with a Stanley Cup title run. Without that exclamation point, this season — while still impressive — becomes a lot less loud, especially given Boston's aging core and roster questions beyond this year.

But for now, we celebrate not only the most impressive team in the world this week or this season, but also one of the most impressive teams we’ve ever seen — at least from Games 1 through 82.


Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (44) skates to the bench as the Arizona Coyotes celebrate after a goal by Coyotes' Clayton Keller during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 8, 2023, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Worst team in the world this week: Anaheim Ducks

You have to give Anaheim credit for finishing this thing strong. And by "this thing," I mean the tankathon. And by “strong,” I mean in shambles.

It was a real close call between the Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks for Worst In The World this week. Both teams have just two points in the standings over their last 11 games, but I’ll give the edge to Anaheim, considering it has won exactly zero of those contests.

That’s right: The Ducks have lost 11 straight games. However, they did pick up a pair of points in the standings over the weekend thanks to back-to-back overtime losses to the Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche. Those loser points are currently the difference in the standings between Anaheim (58) and Chicago (56), but the Blackhawks still have a game in-hand, which could make things interesting.

So who screwed up worse this past week? Chicago by accidentally beating the Calgary Flames? Or the Ducks by not stinking it up enough to lose in regulation two days in a row?

With a tank battle this intense, every crappy outing matters. The Blackhawks may have accidentally won their way out of being the worst team this week, but they have a chance to make up for that by losing their final three games and perhaps securing some extra lottery balls in pursuit of consensus No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard.

Don’t screw it up, fellas.


Who will win the Connor Bedard sweepstakes? 

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