At long last, Postseason hockey returns to the City of Boston. It’s been far too long and it’s going to be an uphill fight but I’d welcome that over waiting for it any longer. The Boston Bruins are going to the 2017 NHL Playoffs.
Here’s who we have to thank for it.
Torey Krug’s 50 point season:
Torey Krug as a two-way (yes. I said two-way.) defenseman is actually pretty typical of the genre of player. Pretty decent at getting goals every so often (especially from a place on the ice only teams specialized to get them from can realistically ask for) but absolutely incredible at getting them A’s on his stat sheet. 43 assists in a season is great for some centers, but for defensemen it is to put him in truly good company, such as the likes of Duncan Keith and Kevin Shattenkirk. Like him or not because of or in spite of his size and skillset, he’s put Boston in position to win more games than few other defensemen.
In the middle pairing, no one defenseman has been able to do so much with what he’s been working with and has been instrumental at getting Boston some much needed wins, and will likely end up the defenseman to have played all 82 games this season. And thank goodness he did.
Tuukka Rask soldiering through 60+ starts:
He didn’t always look the player he should, he would frequently be the only man trying to keep the team in a game, and there was a point in the middle of the season that Rask just didn’t look like he was close to worth his contract.
But he did what he had to in this season and did so without, and I cannot stress this enough, any reliable backup support until the very, very end. Rask took the brunt of starts, third most of any starter in the NHL, through bad and through good, and came out the other side just fine.
Brad Marchand; Elite Goal Scorer:
Brad Marchand has 80 points on this season. No matter how bad this season got (and it got bad a lot) and no matter how dumb the penalties, misconducts and games missed he takes, the Bruins can take solace in the fact that they did not give up on this guy and that he blossomed into the first Bruins since Marc Savard to attain 80 points.
He is a truly elite talent with a...*ahem*...unique edge to him, and the Bruins should consider themselves thankful that he managed to keep it together as a player for as long as he did.
Patrice Bergeron is still Perfect:
Even in a season where he wasn’t racking up points like he usually does Patrice Bergeron was still instrumental to Boston being able to get to where they were by keeping the puck with a black and gold player as much as possible. He, among the players with the most ice time in the league, still comes out head and shoulders above the rest in fancystats and still ends up being one of the premiere talents of the Boston Bruins again and again and again.
#THELEGEND of Pastrnak:
David Pastrnak’s 66 point season is something I sometimes jokingly state on social media, gamethreads, and in a couple of articles as something that Boston should be prepared as an inevitability.
In retrospect, I’m glad my wildest expectations of him were met and exceeded.
Watching David Pastrnak is a delight anyone can enjoy. Not just as a player, but as a person, who brings nothing but smiles and positive energy to a team that can seem overly dour and professional. He brings the kind of creativity and speed that only a player like him can bring and it has worked out tremendously, being the second highest scorer on the team. After a stint in Providence a year ago for conditioning, and of course putting a little mass on, he’s become the kind of dangerously fun player fans can really get behind as the future of the franchise.
As befits #THELEGEND:
David Krejci doing a lot with an unstable line makeup:
David Krejci is pretty clearly an offense first (in the best and worst way) guy even if he’s not directly scoring every goal the Bruins get. That’s fine.
He still managed to keep a pretty steady stream of points given the chaotic nature of his line’s stability. No matter who he had with him he was scoring, and scoring well. While yes, he can be quite frustrating to the point of people questioning his exorbitant contract, he has proven himself worthy of the role he’s in.
An Extremely Defensively skilled 4th Line, Especially down the stretch:
Dominic Moore, Noel Acciari, Riley Nash, and sometimes Tim Schaller.
These gentlemen are owed a lot of beer and props for the job they did playing the low impact, highly defensive roles they were asked to play. The 4th line was the best of both worlds of what qualifies as good defensive play for Boston: Strong possession game when they needed it, every player could block shots and keep the opponent to the perimeter, and could always throw a big hit to re-establish possession, and almost always being pretty good at generating offensive zone faceoffs.
Kudos to those gentlemen on the Neo-Merlot line for their tireless efforts.
A Really good setup for defense:
Old, Pretty good Defensive Defenseman - New, Pretty good Defensiveish defenseman
Offensive Defenseman - Defensive Defenseman
Offensive Defenseman - Defensive Defenseman
With varying degrees of who was where, this was the bread and butter of the Boston Bruins defense for the 2016-2017 season. And it worked wonders on players that one could say had been either given up on or written off. One player (or both) could get into the board battles and pass the puck to their O-Defenseman, and that player would pass or drag the puck out himself and begin a rush. In some cases it even created chances for those Offensive Defensemen to do truly cool things. And even the Defensive Defensemen got a chance to shine in these roles! It gave them the bend-but-don’t-break power to survive a season that, for all intents and purposes, could’ve been over before it started.
I mean, if you can make Adam McQuaid a possession positive player? You’re doing something REALLY right.
All of these things and more were instrumental in getting the Bruins back to the postseason, so now all they have to do is jockey for position to get the most out of these playoffs.
And then the fun really begins.