By Jack Cinquegrana | Follow me on Twitter @bruinschewy
Three times in the past decade the Boston Bruins have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, only winning one year but is a testament to the Bruins organization to return each year with a chance in the playoffs. Though we lost the last two, one in 2013 and one in 2019, making the finals three out of ten years is very impressive and establishes that Boston is a strong and prominent team in the NHL. We are spoiled as Bruins fans because we get to see our team in the playoffs year after year.
Sometimes though, being a Bruins fan can be a struggle. Each team has its strengths and personally, I have seen the Bruins as a defense-first team with a strong back-end as our identity. And even though the saying, “defense wins championships” can be backed up by many examples, the Bruins have a hard time scoring, especially in the playoffs. With defense being our strength, our scoring options are limited. David Pastrnak and the rest of the top line are responsible for 47% of the team’s goals this season, and yes they are superstars, but we need more secondary scoring.
Three Players That Need to Have Breakout Playoff Performances
The first player that comes to mind when it comes to secondary scoring for me is Charlie McAvoy. This kid broke onto the scene in 2017 against Ottawa in the first round. Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo were both out after getting injured one and two games before the playoffs began. Mac opened many eyes with the immediate impact he made in the defensive end. “At the time, he was listed as a player who not only would soon be starring in the NHL but one with the potential to be a perennial all-star,” said Mike G. Morreale on NHL.com when Charlie first got into the NHL.
The same cannot be said for his offensive game three seasons later. You will see little spurts of his playmaking ability and passing here and there but the scoring is not up to par with the expectations and his abilities we see on a game-to-game basis. His puck-carrying ability, hockey IQ, and playmaking are something special, but he needs to score more goals and reach that potential as a perennial all-star.
The next player I have many high hopes for would be Tuukka Rask, the beloved Boston goaltender. Tuukka is a superstar goalie each and every year he suits up for the Bruins. He dominated the playoffs last year with a .934 save percentage and in six seasons he has played in the playoffs he has an average of a .927 save percentage and has only been below a .920 once. That is sustained success if I have ever seen it. But with Rask’s contract coming to an end, his age getting up there, and rumors swirling that he will retire after his contract is complete, how much can we expect from our perennially prolific goaltender.
If this is another shot at the Cup for Tuukka, I think he is going to play better than we have ever seen, he wants the Stanley Cup more than most of the league, especially after sporting a .929 save percentage and 2.12 goals-against average in 2019-2020, both among top five in NHL goalies this season.
Last but not least is David Pastrnak or Pasta as the fans love to call him. Pastrnak was dominating this year, tying the goal tally with the annual winner Alexander Ovechkin at 48 and “co-winning” the Rocket Richard, and also leading the Bruins in points with 95 in 70 games. Though his scoring talent in the regular season has been breathtaking, and even being in the conversation for the MVP is well-deserved, his playoff scoring has been inconsistent. Granted, he has only played in the playoffs three times, but he has been either very good or bad. His first playoffs against Ottawa had a subpar performance and there was talk about maybe he is not a superstar. The following season the Bruins beat Toronto and lost to Tampa Bay in the second round. In only 12 games Pasta accumulated 20 points.
Last season when we lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to St. Louis, through 24 games, twice as many played as the year before, Pastrnak only has 19 points in that run. He had three more goals than the year before and that can be looked at as a positive thing because goals are the only thing that really matters but it shows the progression of how going into the playoffs and getting deeper every year, you just are not used to playing 106 hockey games in the season and playing into June. David Pastrnak has experienced a deep playoff run and he is going to be prepared physically and mentally for another potential Stanley Cup Final appearance.