By: Pierce Brody | Follow me on Twitter @PierceBrody3
The Boston Bruins’ season-long tear is no secret. Sitting atop the NHL standings with an impressive record, the team has few, if any, of the cracks of an average playoff contender. However, despite their success, they struggle with extended rest between games. We saw it surface again this past weekend as the Edmonton Oilers outplayed the team in Boston.
It seems that the woes could be worsening as the Bruins have struggled to right the ship convincingly during the split home-and-home against the ever-rebuilding Red Wings. What’s more troubling is what this means during the season’s final month. This issue could become a significant problem for the Bruins as the playoffs approach. Given the unpredictable schedules between rounds, an early dud in game one or two could spell trouble, but this uncharacteristic lackluster play against a genuine contender, such as Carolina, would put one foot in the grave for this historic season.
The Bruins’ struggles with extended rest have been noticeable as the season has progressed. After taking a long nine-day break during the All-Star Festivities in Miami, the Bruins laid an egg against the rapidly fading Capitals.
This sluggish, slow play on the ice runs up and down the lineup. The top line has managed just two goals in the last three games. Meanwhile, the power play is still mired in a significant drought. The only offensive consistency has been David Pastrnak, who is luckily doing precisely what he was recently paid for. There are several factors probably at play.
For one thing, extended rest can disrupt any team’s rhythm and momentum. While the Bruins have a high level of chemistry, introducing so many new players since the trade deadline could play a more significant role.
Another possible factor is the Bruins’ age. While several talented and experienced players are on their roster, many are on the older side. With the lingering injuries to older players like Brad Marchand and Nick Foligno, these changes to routines could indeed have adverse effects. More importantly, as this season has slowly concluded, these older players are bound to start showing wear earlier than their younger colleagues.
Finally, there could be psychological effects on the players. Being in a routine of playing games every two or three days can help foster chemistry on and off the ice, as well as keep up the competitive intensity. These Bruins losses are specifically marked by a lack of speed, physicality, and crisp play, indicating a possible lack of focus. However, the etiology of this new Achilles’ heel will likely remain unclear.
Ultimately, the Bruins must address their struggles with extended rest to make a deep run in the unforgiving playoffs. Now, rather than later, is undoubtedly the time for the team to work through this endeavor – but for a team that has fought through so little adversity compared to that of the rest of the league, this issue holds much more weight.