At this point, the Boston Bruins have been operating at their highest level for nearly a month and have officially clinched their Stanley Cup playoff spot.
The B’s punched their ticket with a solid, no frills 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night at the Prudential Center and have passed the New York Islanders for the third spot in the East Division. The Black and Gold have won 10-of-12 games since adding Taylor Hall, Mikey Reilly and Curtis Lazar at the NHL trade deadline and have Boston’s leadership group feeling extremely confident with just five games remaining in the regular season.
“It’s always the goal during the regular season, to get your ticket, to get in and then to go from there,” said Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron. “We know we’re a great team. I like where we’re at and I know we can keep improving.”
That’s a scary thought for the rest of the East Division given the lineup depth Boston has now achieved that go along with the elite goaltending, high quality special teams and excellent two-way play they’ve been featuring since mid-April. Clearly there are still some things to be ironed out with Brandon Carlo yet to be introduced back into the lineup and the B’s bottom-6 forward combinations still to be determined.
But now is a time to pat the Bruins on the back for a job well done after a back-breaking regular season where they were forced into playing 17 games during the month of April due to COVID Protocol postponements, and a steady stream of injuries that’s impacted the Bruins at every position throughout the year.
“We had our share of adversity with COVID rescheduling, and injuries and playing different people,” said Bruce Cassidy. “But the flip side of that…the positive of that is that you learn a bit about [the players]. We saw it with the goaltending and on the back end, and we came out of it okay. I think we came out of it playing some really good hockey now.
“I watch how we’re winning and how we’re playing, and we’re winning the right way. Guys are preparing themselves for how to play in May and June, and hopefully July.”
With all of that, there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about a Boston Bruins team that’s hitting their peak with the postseason right around the corner. The veteran players inside the B’s dressing room seem to understand they’ve got a very good shot headed into the postseason.
“It’s a great accomplishment. It’s definitely not easy,” said Tuukka Rask. “You look at our division and it’s tough, and it’s tight. There was no room to have slumps really. We’ve had our ups and downs, but lately we’ve kind of found our game and our identity and we’ve stuck to it. We’ve got bigger goals in my mind and we get to ‘go for it’ again.”
It’s now five consecutive seasons under Cassidy’s tutelage that the Bruins have qualified for the playoffs, but this season will mark one of the best shots that the Boston Bruins will have to hoist the Cup based on the quality lineup, how the team is playing at the end of the year and the wide-open nature of their playoff division.