This blog is intended to be insight into my life as an irrational, stats-driven, obsessive sports fan in Boston. I am a fan of all types of sports with an emphasis on Boston teams and am a proud UConn alum.
After 2 consecutive terrible late season collapses, the Boston Bruins are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It felt like the playoffs had already begun on Tuesday night when the Bruins scored a huge 4-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Despite losing Brad Marchand to an ejection in the first period after he speared Jonathan Drouin in the groin, the Bruins played with a high-level of intensity and urgency. Now, with 2 games left, the Bruins have a chance at home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Just a few weeks ago it seemed like a 3rd consecutive disappointing finish was a strong possibility, but Bruce Cassidy motivated his guys to play with urgency. In 25 games under Cassidy, the Bruins are 18-7 and have played much better and more consistently than under Claude Julien the previous 55 games this season. There are still a lot of question marks on this team, including some inconsistency on defense, but once you are in the playoffs, anything is possible.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, Marchand decided to be a moron and get himself ejected and likely suspended for the next game or two. The Bruins will be playing for home ice and improved playoff seeding without their leading scorer and assist-man thanks to all his prior infractions and his reputation as an instigator. There is no justification and no excuse, it was just one of the dumbest things Marchand has done in his entire career.
As a fan of the Bruins and the NHL playoffs, the win last night was a huge sigh of relief. There is no more intense and exciting action in sports than playoff hockey, so regardless of seeding and their success in the playoffs, the TD Garden will be rocking deep into April.
Coming into the 2016-2017 season for the Boston Bruins the expectations were mixed with many believing the team did not improve enough this offseason, especially on defense. To make things worse, just before the season started the team announced Patrice Bergeron would miss the beginning part of the season with a lower-body injury. Without Bergeron, it’s realistic to think this team doesn’t have much of a chance to contend, but through 3 games, some young bucks have stepped up and played well leading the Bruins to a 2-1-0 record.
The biggest young star is RW David Pastrnak. In his first 2 years in Boston he showed flashes of great play and offensive ability, but hasn’t been able to consistently produce and stay on the ice for a full NHL schedule. At age 20, this is the year you hope for a breakout and thus far, he is showing his incredible offensive prowess. In just 3 games, he has 4 goals (1st in the league), 2 assists, and is a +7 (1st in the league). It has helped Pastrnak to play on a line with veterans LW Brad Marchand and newly acquired C David Backes. The three on that line have 8 of the Bruins 11 goals and 8 assists total. Not too shabby.
Another important young player for the Bruins is D Brandon Carlo. He was a 2nd round draft pick of the Bruins in 2015 and seemed to be a perfect fit for the organization: a 6’5″ 203lb hard-nosed, physically gifted player with solid puck control and finish. He’s not afraid to get in the dirty areas and as we saw on Monday night, can put the puck in the back of the net. Carlo is at the bottom end of the roster, but his poise and talent early on shows me that he belongs in the NHL. If he continues to grow and develop, it will go a long way in helping to sure up the d-core, which is critical if the Bruins want to contend. Through 3 games, Carlo has 1 goal and 1 assist (+7) and he has seen his ice time steadily increase each game.
Overall, the first road trip of the year was a success. The Bruins took 4 of a possible 6 points and the team was able to produce 11 goals over that span. The Marchand, Backes, Pastrnak line is lighting the world on fire and will lead to some interesting decisions when Bergeron is back (hopefully soon). I know it’s early, but I’m starting to think this Bruins team is better than I thought and at least has the potential to be quite good this year.