Having been touted as potential Stanley Cup winners for much of the season, a recent stutter has cast doubt over the Boston Bruins’ NHL title credentials.

A 4-1 home defeat against Seattle Kraken saw the Bruins surrender top spot in the Eastern Conference to in-form Florida Panthers.

While no one genuinely believes the Bruins will miss out on the play-offs, the result highlighted several deficiencies in the squad.

A measure of the recent decline can be found on Betway, with several other teams now vying for favouritism at the top of the Stanley Cup betting markets.

On that basis, the upcoming March 8 trade deadline is a date which should be firmly etched into the minds of the Bruins’ management team.

Cap space limitations undoubtedly complicate matters, which means the club will need to be creative to ensure it can plug some key holes ahead of the play-offs.

The most pressing concern is on the blueline, with the team desperately needing someone who can strengthen the penalty-killing unit.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Jacob Middleton has been touted as a potential option, while Ilya Lyubushkin could be a viable option if the Anaheim Ducks are willing to do business.

While the Bruins are capable of blowing teams away when everything clicks into gear, the unique demands of the play-offs require more gritty personalities.

The list of recent Stanley Cup winners perfectly highlights that point, with the Vegas Golden Knights (2023), Tampa Bay Lightning (2021) and St Louis Blues (2019) all willing to get their hands dirty.

Looking further forward, the Bruins would be well advised to consider acquiring a winger who can add some proven scoring to the roster.

While David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand can be relied upon to keep their points tallies ticking over, the supporting cast are much less consistent.

Jake DeBrusk, Trent Frederic and Morgan Geekie all have the talent to be major assets, but none of them are delivering what the Bruins need right now.

Jason Zucker leaps off the page as a potential option, particularly given that the Arizona Coyotes are unlikely to progress to the post-season.

The 32-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Coyotes last summer and could be tempted by the prospect of moving to a club with loftier ambitions.

The final piece of the jigsaw for the Bruins is required on the fourth line, which currently lacks someone capable of sparking the team into life.

The Bruins have previously been famed for their checking-line units, but the current crop of players lack the killer instinct needed to perform the role effectively.

Minnesota Wild power forward Pat Maroon is the ideal candidate having been part of three Stanley Cup winning teams, while teammate Brandon Duhaime is another possible option.

After being accused of being a soft touch at times this season, strengthening the fourth line could provide the Bruins with the momentum they need to win the Stanley Cup.