By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26
The Boston Bruins became the first team in the NHL this season to clinch a spot for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs following their win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. It is Boston’s seventh consecutive season reaching the playoffs, which is currently the third-longest active streak in the NHL. Despite successfully earning a playoff position, the team hasn’t played to their high standards as of late.
In both games against the Detroit Red Wings this weekend, the Bruins got off to slow starts right out of the gate and fell into multi-goal deficits. Despite showing some resilience in both outings versus the Red Wings, Boston has shown deficiencies in their ability to play a full 60-minute effort. Along with their slow starts, their special teams have looked anything but sharp as they’ve allowed shorthanded goals in both games against Detroit and struggled to keep the puck out of their net when shorthanded.
Boston’s lack of consistency recently has also come with injuries to important players in their lineup. In late February into March, the Boston Bruins announced that forwards Nick Foligno and Taylor Hall will be out for the foreseeable future with long-term injuries. While there is no timetable for either forward to return to the lineup, per WEEI’s Scott McLaughlin, Bruins’ head coach Jim Montgomery told reporters on Friday that he has some hope that the forwards could return in the playoffs.
“What we’re expecting is for Taylor Hall to hopefully be an option come playoff time,” Montgomery told the media. “We don’t have an update there, different than that.”
“Same thing (with Foligno).” Montgomery continued. “They both have suffered pretty significant lower-body injuries, and it’s just gonna take time.”
Along with Foligno and Hall being injured, Hamous Lindholm was sidelined for the Bruins’ matchup against the Red Wings on Sunday with an apparent foot injury. Lindholm’s injury is less significant than the Bruins’ forwards, as he is expected to return on Tuesday versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Luckily for the Bruins, the organization has plenty of depth throughout their lineup as they head out on their western road trip this week.
The Bruins have just 17 games remaining in the regular season before they embark on the Stanley Cup Playoffs in mid-April. With how stacked the Eastern Conference is this year, Boston will need a healthy roster if they hope to make a deep run in the playoffs. When or if the Bruins have a healthy lineup heading into the first round, the team has arguably the deepest offensive and defensive lineup in the NHL.
Marchand – Bergeron – DeBrusk
Zacha – Krejci – Pastrnak
Hall – Coyle – Bertuzzi
Foligno – Nosek/Frederic – Hathaway
Orlov – McAvoy
Lindholm – Carlo
Forbort – Clifton/Grzelcyk
Montgomery hasn’t been afraid of mixing and matching the lineup in his first season behind the bench with the Bruins. It’ll be no different in the playoffs, as he will shift different players throughout the lineup based on matchups.
If the Stanley Cup Playoffs were to start today, the first-place Bruins would be slated to play the second wild-card team in the New York Islanders, who are notorious for the defensive style of hockey. Assuming the Bruins finish the regular season in first place, Boston will have home ice throughout the entirety of the playoffs.
Home ice will be crucial for the Bruins as the coaching staff will be able to dictate line matchups against their opponents. If the Bruins advance later into the playoffs, line matchups will be particularly critical against offensively talented teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, and New Jersey Devils. With just over a month away from the end of the regular season, Boston hopes to get reinforcements as they approach round one of the playoffs.