By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
The Boston Bruins have been eliminated in five games in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
As much as it pains to see the team that we have followed ever so closely throughout this past season play their final game until October, there are so many positives to look at, especially the experience that the youth of this team earned.
Eight players under the age of 26 played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Bruins during the twelve playoff games, (Noel Acciari, Jake DeBrusk, Ryan Donato, Matt Grzelcyk, Danton Heinen, Sean Kuraly, Charlie McAvoy, and David Pastrnak).
The roster of youth that was brought ever since the hiring of Bruce Cassidy has evolved into the contender that we became. Was it experience, or lack thereof, that cost Boston a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals? I don’t believe so. In fact, the best players that showed up were some of those young guys.
Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak stole the show from the Toronto Maple Leafs while Charlie McAvoy played a solid Game Five against Tampa Bay, even in a loss. Matt Grzelcyk and Sean Kuraly also played crucial roles for the team, especially Grzelcyk who had to perform at a higher level due to the absence of Brandon Carlo and eventually Torey Krug.
Even players like Danton Heinen, Noel Acciari, and Ryan Donato who finished the postseason with three points combined, played some decent hockey in the short time. Ryan Donato faced criticism along with very high praise to somehow still earn some second-line minutes and managed to produce some quality scoring chances, even though he did not end up recording a single point.
Not to mention, the Bruins are still filled with solid prospects that can play in the future for the team. Brandon Carlo has been a key defenceman for the team, taking a lot of the stress from captain Zdeno Chara on that Bruins blueline. With that said, Carlo is yet to play a single playoff game in the National Hockey League, dealing with injuries during both the 2016/17 playoffs and the 2017/18 playoffs.
Anders Bjork played thirty games for the organization over the course of the season, before falling to an upper-body injury (shoulder surgery) back in January of 2018. Headed into the future, Bjork may become an important player when it comes to left-winger depth.
Not to mention the Providence Bruins, who even in a First-Round exit in the Calder Cup Playoffs, still had some good things to note, including starting goaltender, Zane McIntyre who helped lead the P-Bruins to the playoffs with a 26-15-4 record throughout the season.
Even in the first round loss, Providence forward, Austin Czarnik tallied six points (two goals) in the four games as well as a +4 rating, not to mention the 25-44-69 totals in 64 games that the 25-year-old Czarnik had this past regular season. Providence holds many other players within the organization that could one day make it onto the NHL team.
Even further in the system, Boston is packed with solid prospects for the future. So, clearly the Boston Bruins did not win in the 2017-2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so, what exactly did they learn?
Well, the young players like the ones previously mentioned now have the experience of the intense pressure felt in elimination games. The beauty of losing in the second round is the younger players get to feel what it is like to win a tight series, but at the same time, the pain of losing in a playoff series has hit them all.
An argument is there that the Boston Bruins managed to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game Seven of their Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals because of the game that rookie Jake DeBrusk had. The two goals, including the eventual game-winning goal, pushed the B’s to a series win.
Obviously following the huge win on home ice, the team would feel the disappointment of a Round Two exit in the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Although, the experience of losing to the Lightning made the young players realize how much losing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs hurts, and hopefully, it will motivate these future Bruins to excel for years to come.