Here’s a more pessimistic look at the Bruins playoff hopes, go give this a read too.
For the first time since the 2013-14 season, the Boston Bruins are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sure, they’re somewhat backing in, coming off a shootout loss to their postseason opponent in the Senators and a lacking 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals. However, there are still reasons to believe this Bruins squad could pull up its suspenders and get to the second round.
Cassidy’s Prior Postseason Success
From the IHL to the AHL and OHL, Cassidy has gotten to the playoffs in multiple levels of the game. When he coached the ECHL’s then-Trenton Titans, he got all the way to the Conference Finals of the 1999-2000 season. In his two years with the Grand Rapids Griffins, back when they were an IHL team, he led them to the IHL’s equivalent of the President’s trophy, albeit losing in the first round. Most recently, aside from his first season in Providence, he got the P-Bruins to the playoffs in their last four seasons, advancing to the second round two times. Cassidy is bound to finally have some form of playoff success at the NHL level.
Forwards Peaking at the Right Time
Brad Marchand has been scoring all year, so this doesn’t necessarily concern him. Who it does impact is his linemate, Patrice Bergeron. Since Julien’s dismissal on February 7th, Bergeron scored 45% of his season total in points, including exactly half of his 32 assists. When the Bruins needed a win against the Lightning to clinch a playoff spot, Bergeron went a perfect 17 for 17 in the faceoff dot. The bottom six also have learned to contribute, especially from Noel Acciari (despite now being injured) and Riley Nash, who came up with some impact goals late in the season. Drew Stafford has also found the scoresheet lately, a sign the deadline deal is ready for a playoff push. Pieces of the team are gelling at the right time, hopefully enough to get the Bruins past the Senators.
The Mac is Here
That’s right, as reported this morning, Charlie McAvoy is going to play for the Boston Bruins in the playoffs. He brings the power play quarterbacking and puck moving play that is lacking without Krug, plus a physical style of play reminiscent of the Big, Bad Bruins era of hard hitting defensemen at times. It’s not to say that Krug and Carlo’s impact on the lineup won’t be missed, it still hurts the Bruins going into the postseason. However, McAvoy is an NHL-ready defenseman according to his former head coach, and should be able to contribute right away for the Black and Gold.
Cassidy’s Impact on the Bruins
What Cassidy has done for this team in general compared to Claude Julien is remarkable as well. He worked with Anton Khudobin and goalie coach Bob Essensa, and now Dr. Khu has been playing his best hockey. He’s motivated the younger players who were highly criticized under the Julien era and gotten every member of the locker room all in. Cassidy didn’t re-invent the wheel with his systems, but made minor changes that resulted in an increase in quality scoring chances and a decrease in shots from the middle of the ice getting on a Bruins netminder. Many of the players from the last two seasons are here, but the team itself feels different, and that certainly works in the Bruins’ favor.
It’s the Playoffs, You Gotta Believe!
There’s always something magical about the playoffs, regardless of the sport. A Cinderella team does the impossible and gets past a Goliath of a matchup. A team makes a comeback for the ages, as Bruins fans can remember it was 4-1. As much as we can look at these teams on paper, anything can happen out on the ice. Having not made the playoffs the last two years, Bruins fans should soak up the atmosphere of the playoffs and embrace the chaos and excitement that’s coming on the chase for another Stanley Cup.