As the Bruins head into mid-March and the midway point of this shortened 2021 season, there’s a lot to approve of thus far.
Namely, the young defense truly strutting (and skating into) their stuff; the near-perfect perfection line play in both zones night in and night out; and the stellar goaltending duo between the pipes!
Yet, if the Bruins are going to win over the approval of each other — let alone the oft times fanatical fans and sometimes mendacious media — as the calendar turns into April, then this truly home stretch (nine games will be at TD Garden) will also need to be near-perfect.
That’s because the B’s will have no margin for error in an April filled with tough teams, playoff positioning and points at a premium–specifically, the points Boston needs to make-up after leaving too many behind recently.
To wit: the Bruins have lost five games so far where Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have allowed only ONE GOAL in regulation, including the team’s latest against the lowly Devils which feels like a guaranteed lowlight every game against New Jersey.
So, let’s highlight the key match-ups the Bruins have in front of them this April, with each contest needing an approval rating of 100% if the B’s hope to be in the coveted “Top Four” of the ultra competitive East Division when all is said and done.
High Flying Back-to-Back
After the B’s battle the flightless Pens (referring to the bird and lack of air travel for them) at home to start off the month, they’ll then need to keep their high-flying ways against the Flyers going for an always challenging back-to-back home-and-away series.
For starters, Philadelphia hasn’t been able to win against Boston this season no matter what the coaches or players do on the ice or off. And the B’s have embarrassed Philly on national television twice, including the epically awesome Lake Tahoe tilt that will forever live on in Boston glory (see below).
So you best “B”-lieve, as I like to tempestuously type, that these games will be revenge games for the Flyers and that Boston will have its hands and hockey gloves full for two nights in a row with travel to Philly thrown (flown?) in. Not to mention the fact that Philadelphia is battling for its playoff life and could be on the bubble by the time the calendar turns.
Then again, so could the Bruins. Which is why these next few April match-ups could be so frustrating or fun for the boys in Black N’ Gold!
Home Cooking Back-to-Back
If the B’s have the Flyers number so far this year, then the Islanders own the 617. So, Boston can ill afford to phone it in against New York in back-to-back April games at home on the 15th and 16th.
With the Islanders vying not just for a playoff spot but the TOP spot in the crowded East, Boston will need to crowd them all over the Causeway for both of these games… games they’ll need to win in regulation, if possible.
While it’s been great to “battle it out” and earn a point for some of their tough losses this year, the Bruins need to flat out get solid 60-minute W’s here, none of this 65-minute or Shootout and then some nonsense!
Because the most non-sensical thing of all is likely to happen if the B’s don’t beat the highly-competitive teams in their division this April. And guess what that is?
How BuffaLOW Can the B’s Go
The Bruins will beat a bottom-dwelling team the day Jake DeBrusk scores another goal! Well, since neither of those things seem possible this season then the four games against Buffalo in April have to be the most unsettling piece of the B’s upcoming schedule.
The Sabres are the worst team in hockey, despite having some truly top-notch talent. Which is why the B’s will most likely lose each one of these games in head-banging fashion similar to their truly bedeviling battles against the Devils.
But, if by some miracle of reverse malaise and mediocrity, Boston can truly start playing up to its expectations instead of down to its opponents, then these four games could be EIGHT guaranteed points for the B’s.
And that’s approvable to any and all hockey fans in the Hub this Spring!