In the continuing “Eastern Conference Playoff Preview” series, I’ll preview the Boston Bruins. The team,currently sitting eighth in the division, has been holding off the Atlanta Thrashers and the New York Rangers for the last spot in the playoffs. With injuries and a lack of scoring, the Bruins look to be one of the weakest playoff teams in the division.
One of the worst injuries for this team came when Marc Savard was concussed by Matt Cooke. Although he didn’t wow anyone with his offensive prowess, he still brought a gritty presence to the team. Without him, Boston has seemed to struggle without him. They shouldn’t have a problem scoring, with players like Patrice Bergeron, Marco Sturm, and surprise players like David Krejci. But the team ranks 30th in the league in scoring, with 182 goals scored this season. The team’s -33 plus/minus ranking isn’t great either. Both of those things show Boston’s lack of scoring depth. With the possibility of facing the Washington Capitals in the first round, that lack of scoring can really put the Bruins in a hole.
Zdeno Chara leads an average defensive squad for the Bruins. Chara leads all Bruins defenseman in goals, assists and points. He’s also the plus/minus leader. After Chara, there’s not much on the blue line. The defense, as a whole, ranks 30th in the league in goals against. A lack of scoring and a lack of defense? That doesn’t bode well for the playoffs.
Maybe one of the only bright spots for Boston is the emergence of goalie Tuukka Rask. The 6-3 Finn has solidified the number one position in Beantown, going 19-12-4 with a 1.99 goals against average. He’s far outplayed former Vezina winner Tim Thomas. His G.A.A. and save percentage (.930) are very, very good. If there’s one person keeping Boston afloat, it’s Rask. His play could lengthen a series. But without any solid scoring options or defensive play, it looks like it’ll all be on him to win them a series.
So, does Boston stand a chance in the playoffs? Like many of the lower seeds, they don’t look great. They lack a scoring offense, and the team’s defense isn’t that much better. The only bright spot, Rask, can’t steal them a playoff series. With Boston barely hanging on to the eighth seed, it might be a one-and-done year.
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