The Bruins have been playing great hockey for the past few months, but one question remains—Is this Bruins team peaking too early or can they sustain this success into the playoffs?
Dangers of peaking too early
We’ve seen this happen before—Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals fight their way to the top of the Atlantic, only to lose it in the first round of playoffs. Boston’s fate, however, will most likely play out differently.
Rather than relying on one top guy to send record numbers of pucks to the back of the net like Washington do, the Bruins have a variety of players that they can rely on to score and win games.
Even the bottom line for the Bruins has been producing as of late. The fourth line—Tim Schaller, Sean Kurlay, and Austin Czarnik—has put up six points over the past two games.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy attributed a lot of the Bruins success to their special teams play.
“[The] penalty kill was real good. They had some looks with the amount that we had to kill. We got a big power-play goal to help us and [two shorties] as well. Ends up being the difference in the game,” Cassidy told NHL.com. “Normally we’re a very good five-on-five team, so we’re fine with that game, but our special teams – tip of the hat to the guys out there.”
Top players such as Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, and Ryan Spooner have remained consistent goal scorers for the success-driven team. With this amount of talent on one roster, hopes for playoffs, and perhaps even topping the Atlantic Division are within reach—if they can stay healthy.
Injury concerns heading into the final stretch
Injuries have plagued the Bruins nearly all season.
We’ve seen almost every top goal scorer sitting out for a sum of the season, so far, due to various game-related injuries. This is one of Head Coach Bruce Cassidy’s primary concerns as the playoffs approach.
“Certainly some of [our issues] are [attributed to] puck management in the neutral zone. We’ve just got to get wiser and more responsible. I think that led to some of the rushes…our layers have broken down at times, more so than earlier in the year.” Cassidy told NHL.com
Goaltending competition continues
Division of play between Bruins’ goalies Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin allows rest time and somewhat of a friendly competition aspect to their styles of play.
Rask’s slip up in Buffalo cost him his spot in net against New Jersey, with Khudobin stepping in to perform an impressive 60 minutes. Cassidy was impressed with how his backup goalie kept the Bruins in the game.
“[Khudobin] played great” Cassidy told NHL.com “He gave us an opportunity and kept us in the game. By no means our best effort or our best game. But at the same time, after last night, moving on to today with the back-to-back, a step in the right direction.”
Rask’s point streak came to an end after a 4-2 loss against Buffalo on Saturday. Two goals for Torey Krug and a show-stopping 35 saves from Khudobin led Boston to a 5-3 victory against New Jersey on Sunday. Boston’s 5-2 win against Calgary on Tuesday brought the team just one point from the division lead.
Next seven days at a glance
Saturday, Feb. 17 at 10 p.m. at Vancouver Canucks
Monday, Feb. 19 at 4 p.m. at Calgary Flames
Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. at Edmonton Oilers