The next 9 games for the Bruins are going to be a tough test. They play two division leaders, the Capitals and two games against the Sabres. 4 divisional games, 2 against the Sabres and 2 against the Canadiens. Two against tough western conference teams in the Kings and the Canucks, and 2 against teams they should beat in the Panthers and Lightning.
I would like to see a record of 7-2. The seven wins against the Eastern Conference teams and the two losses obviously against LA and Vancouver. My reasoning for this is the B's need as many points in the Conference as possible. The most crucial wins are against Montreal, Florida, and Tampa. The B's need to separate themselves from the bottom of the pack. Wins against Buffalo and Washington would give the B's morale and confidence in playing against the top tier teams.
Obviously with the way the team is playing as of late, a 7-2 record against the level of teams they will soon face is a stretch, but it could be done. Savvy should be back as soon as Friday, and hopefully, Sturm will follow not too long after. Sturm I feel is undervalued to this team due to his frequent injury's and cap number, but he is missed almost as much as Savard, I believe. Sturm actually shoots the puck, and gets good scoring chances, which is exactly what the B's need right now. With Kessel gone and Ryder's decline Sturm has become our best finisher. I highly doubt a deal gets done before the Olympics to get scoring help, so the B's have to rely on what they have.
The defense also seems to be struggling, but with all the same pieces as last year, minus Ward and Ference, I'm not sure what the problem is. One thing I suggest is healthy scratching Wides, to hopefully, make him realize something's wrong. I wouldn't mind going back to a defensive minded defense for a few games to get back on track. A Defense of Chara and Morris, Boychuk and McQuaid, and Stuart and Hunwick looks good to me. When Ference comes back and Wides smartens up (hopefully) I think the odd man out will be Hunwick. Boychuk has played too damn good so far, and without him the D will become very soft.
The Bruins will be active at the deadline. One good thing about the Carolina debacle was the showcase of Whitney. I wasn't sold on how effective Whitney could be as a deadline pickup, but he showed in that game he would be very effective if playing on a good team. Boston may be looking for another D-Man also if their defensive situation doesn't improve. I'm not sure who's available, but Kubina's name has been tossed around, although he's pricey. Kubina has a nice package of size and skill. He wins battles in the defensive zone with his size, and has good transition ability. He can make his own space and start the breakout with good passing. I'm not sure what Carolina and Atlanta would be asking in return, but it would probably cost some decent picks and/or prospects. If I did the math right if the B's get Kubina he would be owed $1,280,487.70 and Whitney would be owed $865,853.66 for a total of $2,146,341.36 for the remainder of the season. I don't know what the Bruins have in cap space (almost sure it isn't that), but with smaller contracts going the other way, they could fit these two on the team, and I feel it would make them a lot better. The last quarter or so of the year the team would look something like:
Lucic Savard Sturm
Wheeler Krejci Ryder
Whitney Bergeron Recchi
Thornton Begin Satan
Sobotka / Paille....I think Bitz is the odd man out due to lack of production and skill
I'd feel good about the Bruins chances with that team.