2011 was a great year to a Boston hockey fan. The Bruins took home Lord Stanley’s Cup after sweeping Philadelphia, taking down Tampa Bay and taking it to seven games in Vancouver, Canada. Needless to say Boston hasn’t been in that situation since.
In 2012, they lost to Washington in the quarterfinals 3-4. 2013 almost brought home another cup but Boston only strung together two wins in losing the series 2-4. In 2014, Boston beat Detroit in the first round 4-1 but fell the Montreal in seven games 3-4. Last season, the Bruins did not even qualify for the playoffs.
This season, while going well, shouldn’t be another casualty to the Bruins organization. They were tied for second in the East with Tampa Bay with 74 points as of last night and are both only few points out of first, where Florida currently stands. But, now there are a few questions looking forward as the end of the regular season nears.
As the trade deadline ends today, some teams around the league have made crucial roster moves such as Chicago waiving Rob Scuderi to make room to sign Andrew Ladd. Not even I could even think that Chicago won’t be in the Stanley Cup Finals this year. Not only because of the late addition but because of the team as a whole with Patrick Kane on top of his game and even rookie Artemi Panarin making a serious run for the Calder trophy so far.
As for the Bruins though, they’ve had their ups and downs. As of now I would say more downs than ups. More recently, Boston has been rumored to deal forward Loui Eriksson before the trade deadline. Eriksson is an impending free agent following this season and is likely to leave Boston, which puts more pressure on the B’s to move him and get something out of him.
Their defense hasn’t been playing up to par. The only savior has been when Tuukka Rask has played phenomenal in net and the offense has chipped in just enough to get past. In reality, we have a team here that has the talent of a top 10 goalie in the league, their offense has been playing pretty well with Brad Marchand nearing 40 goals this season. Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are a top five combo in the league, but the defense has been lacking.
Just last night, Boston squared off against Tampa Bay in a home game. The Bruins only scored once in what turned out to be a 4-1 loss in an important divisional game in the east.
Two of Tampa Bay’s goals were off of defensive miscues. One of which was a 2-0 breakaway with Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn, after Adam McQuaid fumbled and tripped over the blue line, giving the puck away and leading to the 2-0 break for Tampa. The other, a penalty shot from Steven Stamkos, put the game out of reach. On Stamkos’ goal, Stammer broke through the defense and drew the penalty shot when Marchand came down and prevented him from scoring. The defensive unit has been bad all year, with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg regressing, along with McQuaid being a walking injury. These plays put Rask in the most difficult situation with two players coming at you and then one of the leagues best all alone. There’s not too much Rask could do about that.
Going forward, the Bruins do play Tampa Bay again in March but they also have a few tough games against Western Conference teams such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, all teams that are contenders to win the Stanley Cup.
They are going to need to pick up their play on the blue line but more importantly as a team to stay in the playoff picture. Whether it’s the in house options suddenly playing up to par, or adding someone at the trade deadline, the back line needs to improve. I don’t see them going anywhere far in the playoffs as of right now. If they want to make a run in the playoffs, they’ll have to rely on Tuukka Rask and the offense to get them there. But the Bruins have some serious work to do, especially on the defensive end.