Bruins Clinch Playoff Birth

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The Boston Bruins have six games remaining this season and have officially locked up their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The Bruins enter the home stretch in second place within their division.  Assuming that nothing drastic takes place the team will be expecting to host the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one and will have home ice.  The Maple Leafs will surely be a good test and no slouch as a first round opponent, but having home ice should prove beneficial for the B’s as they look to add their seventh Stanley Cup and hoist a banner to the rafters.

Photo courtesy of masslive.com
The Bruins left Monday night’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning with an impressive 101 points and the second best record in the Eastern Conference.  The Lightning are leading the conference and the league with 122 points and have a target on their back as top dog entering the playoffs.  The Lightning have proven themselves time and time again as the perennial super power of the NHL this season.  They are four wins shy of the NHL record for most regular season wins and will have a chance to do so over the next couple of weeks as the season wraps up.

Shop for official Boston Bruins team fan gear and authentic collectibles at Shop.NHL.com As good as the Lightning are, the Bruins showed signs on Monday night that they will be able to compete with a team that is as complete as Tampa.  The Bruins entered the third period with a 4-2 lead in the Lightning’s barn only to see their lead crumble as they skated to a 5-4 loss.  Although a disappointing evening for the team, we can get excited that this Bruins team is capable of going toe to toe with the best statistical team in the league.

The Bruins went on a magical run throughout the months of January and February in which they rarely lost any games and surged ahead in the standings to help secure the two seed in the Atlantic.  The Bruins seem to be getting completely healthy at the right time with leading goal scorer David Pastrnak returning to the lineup.

Even the defensive units are almost running at full strength as a small controversy is brewing in regards to who might be dressing in the postseason.  With Torey Krug and, hopefully, Kevan Miller returning to the lineup as we reach the playoffs, it will be interesting to see what head coach Bruce Cassidy elects to do with his lineup.  Connor Clifton has been gaining traction as a crowd pleaser as he offers a little more grit on the blue line and has been playing a fair chunk of minutes per night as he gains more experience.  Having too many defensemen is never a problem in the National Hockey League.  Cassidy will need to find the hot hands and the right combinations as the most important games are on the horizon.


Tuukka Rask is 2-3 over the course of his last five starts, and this is the time of year that can trouble Bruins fans.  Rask has now appeared in 43 games this season, and this may be the best that he has ever been managed.  Jaroslav Halak has been a reliable backup goalie that can shoulder a great deal of the load and expect to deliver a quality performance.  Rask should be as fresh as he can be at this point in the season.  But can he find that “It Factor” in the playoffs and takeover a game.  

We fondly remember that Tim Thomas would put the team on his back in the 2011 postseason run.  With the Bruins likely to face the Maple Leafs in round one, and then possibly Tampa Bay in round two, Rask will need to be the reason that the Bruins win several of those games.  Rask at times can play like the best keeper in the league, but also can have some dismal performances.  With his extra rest this year it will be the perfect opportunity to be a leader that this team needs on the backend.

The Bruins have a legitimate chance to be a cup contender this year.  Playoff hockey brings out a different breed of player and fan that creates a fantastic product.  The games are faster, more exciting and gut wrenching at times.  April should be a lot of fun, but the B’s have a few contests still remaining to take care of and solidify home ice against Toronto.  This has been a fun Bruins roster and hopefully the season still has a few months to go.


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Boston Sports Syndicate: Bruins Clinch Playoff Birth
Bruins Clinch Playoff Birth
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