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Are They Contenders?

In a league where it’s seemingly the Tampa Bay Lightning and everyone else, maybe that’s not exactly an easy answer no matter what NHL team we want to talk about.  Tampa is close to 20 points better than the second best team in the entire league.  So maybe it’s only the Lightning that is contenders?

We all know better than that though.  Anything can happen in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  That, of course, has been proven time and time again through the history of the NHL.

So do the Boston Bruins find themselves truly in the mix for the Cup?

My answer?  I don’t know.

Good one!

My initial reaction is…no.  Not right now anyway.  The simple reason?  Once you shut down their top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, who else scores on this team?  Are we really going to rely on the WAK line (Chris Wagner, Noel Acciari and Sean Kuraly)?  I think not.

Sure, Jake DeBrusk has been lighting it up lately.  And David Krejci has been pretty consistent this season.  But this rotating group of kids and/or 4th liners and/or bums parading through that third spot on the line leave a lot to be desired (more on these dudes later).  Then forget about the “3rd line”, which is really the “4th line”.  People continue to insist the Acciari line is still the 4th line, but they really have elevated to the 3rd line recently.  I guess we are basically splitting hairs here since neither of the lines will be full of consistent scorers…ever.

No one is talking much about the Pastrnak injury now either.  How long does that thumb injury keep him out?  Two weeks they are saying…at least.  Then the doctors reevaluate.  How long after then?  And how will that affect his play going forward from there?  Pasta was on pace for 40+ goals when he went down (literally…as he fell in a parking lot after a sponsorship dinner.  Hmmmmmmm…nothing curious there).  What can we expect when he returns?

Danton Heinen has played well on the top line since Pasta’s injury.  But as an allegedly wise man recently said (why do they call this man “Keo” anyway?), “he (Heinen) actually has been decent with 37 (Bergy) and 63 (Marchy), credit to him.  But then I think we could put 69 on your back, stand you in front of the goal and a few would bounce off you too.”

Fair point by Captain Obvious…other than putting any number on my back and letting me on the ice in any capacity.  But you get the point.  Plus…Heinen was borderline terrible on any other line he previously played on this season.  That doesn’t help.

In any event, a fully healthy forward set of lines that includes…

  1.  Marchand/Bergeron/Pastrnak
  2.  DeBrusk/Krejci/Heinen
  3.  Wagner/Acciari/Kuraly
  4.  David Backes?/Karson Kuhlman?/Peter Cehlarik?/Joakim Nordstrom?/Trent Frederic? (the options currently here)

…simply does not cut it, in my opinion.

But wait!  The trade deadline is Monday.  General Manager Donnie Sweeney will make some moves, no?!

Probably.  But are we excited about his track record with deadline deals?  Nope.  Not even a little bit.  We could go through the Jimmy Hayes’, the John Michael Liles’, the Zac Rinaldo’s, etc.  But I’ll spare you the gory details…which are likely embedded in your brain already anyway.

I mean, it looks like he has already brought back “Suitcase” Lee Stempniak…a failed acquisition from 2 seasons ago.  Stemp was in camp with the B’s on a tryout basis and then who the hell knows (or even cares?) where he has been since then?  Until he showed up for two Providence Bruins games last week.  Will this be Donnie Hockey’s big deadline move?

Well, I guess the answer is no, seeing that he pulled off a deal on Wednesday.  The B’s obtained Charlie Coyle from the Wild for Ryan Donato and a fifth round pick.  That Donnie, always needing to throw picks into deals!

I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t know a hell of a lot about Coyle.  But what I do know is that he sounds like a bottom six guy.  Not opposed to acquiring one of those types, since as you can see above, they need better bodies there.  But I also can’t say I am very inspired by the move.

I will also say that while Sweeney has stockpiled “prospects” over the past few years, how many of these guys can actually play?  Some of these dudes have gotten some decent run up in the NHL.  And, as of now, only DeBrusk and I suppose Heinen look like keepers.

Donato, Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Anders Bjork, Anton Blidh, etc.  The jury is probably still out on Frederic and Kuhlman.  Zach Senyshyn can’t even get a sniff up in Boston.  How bad was that first round pick?  We can go back to Frank Vatrano and Austin Czarnik if you like.  And some of the D-men, including what could be another wasted first round pick in Jakub Zboril.  I have no problem trading some, if not all of these guys for established, and good, players.  But Donato showed some scoring ability at least last year.  He may have been the last guy on this list to ship out of town.

I’m not sold on this one…yet anyway.  But I also feel like Sweeney will do more.  He’d better.

As for the defense and the goalies, we don’t think he has to do anything there.  Solid 7 D-men as we speak, 8 if you count Stevie Kampfer, but I don’t.  Kampfer is on quite a roll worth mentioning, however.  He hasn’t suited up in almost two months.  Not easy being the 8th defenseman when only 6 dress.  But I suppose it’s better to collect an NHL salary than an AHL salary.

In any event, even though Zdeno Chara looks like he is skating in quicksand more often than we all like, even though Torey Krug still looks lost on defense more often than we all like, even though Charlie McAvoy misses more games than we all like, I can’t say I am too worried about the D as a whole.

Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are plenty capable in net, though that pains me to say about Tuuks cuz most know how I feel about him.  But this is a pretty good tandem for the regular season anyway.  The big question is, who is the #1 guy for the playoffs?  It’s not like they will rotate when the time comes.  Well, they could, but that kind of thing is pretty much unheard of in the postseason.  Both netminders have had their bad stretches.  But they have also had stretches where they have stood on their head.  It will be interesting to see how that plays out…even though I imagine it will be Tuuks at the end.  After all, he’s the one that makes a gazillion dollars…

Ssssssoooo…are the Bruins true contenders or not?  My real answer?  Kind of.  They can be.  But ask me again on Monday night…

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