By Dan Cellucci | Follow Me @Cellucci_Dan14
With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, it is full steam ahead towards the playoffs. There were shakeups across the NHL, especially within the Eastern Conference’s top eight teams, as teams filled their holes and added to their depth. Even though the playoff outlook in the East has been set since Thanksgiving, the final push should bring pure entertainment and top-notch hockey for fans.
For the Boston Bruins, who have been sitting in one of the two wildcard spots for what seems like the entire season, they now have the opportunity to finish in one of the Atlantic’s top three spots. They filled their top need by adding Defenseman Hampus Lindholm from the Anaheim Ducks at the deadline, and pairing him with Charlie McAvoy will give the Bruins a legitimate shot at finishing ahead of the rival Leafs at the end of the season.
As the NHL’s second-hottest team since the New Year, the Bruins are 7-2-1 in their last ten games and are breathing down the necks of both Toronto and Tampa Bay. All three teams added at the deadline, and while it should take some time for their respective newcomers to get acclimated with their new teams, we should expect to see more jockeying for position than at the Belmont Stakes.
While it has been a stretch of positives for the Bruins of late, the lack of offensive depth is cause for concern. Erik Haula has just two points in his last seven games, and as the B’s second line Center and they are going to need a significant turnaround for the home stretch. Jake Debrusk has once again cooled off into one of his streaks with just two points in his last ten games. It will be interesting to see how he performs now that his trade request was not granted this past week.
The main concern is what happens (God forbid) there is an extended absence for one of their top-six forwards? The possible replacements of Blidh, Steen, and potentially Lysell are not going to be able to compete with the powerhouses of Florida, Carolina, and Tampa Bay. At that point, it would be difficult to hope for a top-three finish in the Atlantic, but luckily landing in one of the two wildcard spots is an almost guaranteed lock.
Speaking of the Bruins 2021 1st rounder, Fabian Lysell, General Manager Don Sweeney dropped the news that we could see him in the Black and Gold down the stretch. With 51 points in 43 games for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL this year, Lysell is an explosive prospect who is going to produce for the Bruins for years to come. It remains a longshot for this season; most likely, he will be in Providence over Boston, but if there is an extended absence in the top 6 forwards before the end of the regular season, the 19-year-old could hear his name called.
My Eastern Conference Standing Predictions: