In the words of Boston Bruins Twitter: “February’s filled up.”
In the words of The Eagles: “Such a fine sight to see.” (And you don’t even have to be standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona to get the view!)
That being said, or better yet sung, the B’s do nearly wrap up January’s slate of games in AZ against the Coyotes. So how’s that for taking it easy?
But now that next month’s schedule is out and updated, complete with multiple games-in-hand on the docket that needed to be made up, the B’s can’t afford to take it easy on any of their opponents.
They need to bank as many W’s as possible over this winnable stretch of both home and road games to position themselves as a “Top Three Team” in the Atlantic and to further separate themselves from the Wild Card pack come March.
So, how can they do that? Let’s break down the TWO key game groups in February –sticking with our Eagles theme and lyrical references, of course– and see where the B’s can take advantage of this recently re-scheduled schedule the most (and yes, I was way off with predicting how these games would line-up which is why I will never work in scheduling, lol)!
“WE MAY LOSE”
With the way the B’s have been playing so far in the early stages of 2022, practically every game coming up could be winnable.
But there’s no sugarcoating how challenging it will be to “sweep” the likes of the Hurricanes, Rangers, Pens and Avs throughout this stretch. Losing one or two of these tough games will be understandable.
All of these teams are not only atop their respective divisions (or close to the top, especially in the Metropolitan with a three-headed horse race between Carolina, New York and Pittsburgh), but are also serious Stanley Cup contenders this year (or at least shaping up to be).
That means the B’s will have to be at their best to — at best — take six-out-of-eight points here. A little revenge against the ‘Canes for their recent 7-1 drubbing during Willie O’Ree night could be just what the doctor ordered to help jumpstart this stretch!
“WE MAY WIN”
Scattered in between the cream-of-the-crop games are four contests against some beatable cellar dwellers. Sure, the Seattle Kraken games were already on the original calendar in early (home) and late February (road) but now they help bookend three games versus the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders, respectively.
So, these are five contests screaming for eight-to-ten points worth of celebrating for the B’s. Anything less would be a missed opportunity. Like the coaching staff likes to allude to during Boston puck pressers: you gotta beat the teams that you should beat, whether playing at TD Garden or on the road. This would be a perfect way to extend an already impressive stretch of Bruins hockey!
“WE MAY NEVER BE HERE AGAIN”
The chance to win the Stanley Cup with this aging core is NOW. Patrice Bergeron, the Captain of the B’s, wants another shot at glory and deserves one (not to mention he’s a UFA next year and has said he’ll worry about this future after the season ends).
Tuukka Rask is back and the healthiest he’s been in years (even after getting shellacked by the Canes in only his second game — hey, everyone gets a pass when the D is that bad).
He’s also one of those core B’s players like Bergy who deserves to play a big part in a Stanley Cup quest again to truly put the ultimate capstone on a career as the greatest goaltender in franchise history (or at least right up there with the Tiny Thompsons, Gerry Cheevers and Andy Moogs of yesteryear). If Tim Thomas can do it, Rask can do it “Tuu,” right? I gotta believe there’s some Black N’ Gold karma involved here!
And that’s because the B’s may truly “never be here again” with this opportunity, as it stands right now, in front of them. The roster, locker room and on-ice chemistry has clicked in a way that reminds many of the near-Cup winning campaigns of ’13 and ’19.
Sure, Jake DeBrusk has asked for a trade but his stock is currently going through the roof thanks to recent play so if he stays — great. If he goes and brings back a healthy return and perhaps some blue-line depth and help — even better. And the B’s are continuing to get better, overall, as this season progresses.
So, now is exactly the time for this team and management to take advantage of “the window.” It’s still open and if the B’s make the most of their newly minted schedule, which you should now mark on your Bruins calendar, then who’s to say some Cup love can’t happen this year?
And THAT sweet love is gonna save me!