The Boston Bruins are red-hot coming out of the Christmas break, and that may be overstating it. The Bruins absolutely ran over the competition throughout this week. They outscored opposing teams by a combined 15-4 score and won all four games. Two of the games came against a pair of the NHL’s best teams: the Jets and Blue Jackets. The other two were easy lay-ups against Detroit and Buffalo. All in all as a fan of this team you should be ecstatic about the direction this team is headed in. But how far can this young Bruins team really go in the playoffs?
Offensively the Bruins are not the most dangerous team in the league. However they still have quite a few players who can put the puck in the net. Brad Marchand has rapidly developed into one of the best players in the entire National Hockey League. His offensive ability has shined the past two seasons playing beside the best two-way center in the NHL in Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron/Marchand/Pastranak is one of the most dangerous line combos in the NHL, possessing great chemistry and skill to provide the Bruins with a consistent source of offensive production every single game.
With Krejci out, another intriguing line combo that Cassidy has begun deploying is the Debrusk/Spooner/Bjork line. All three players are young skilled offensive players who play with a ton of speed and creativity. If this line can develop any sort of chemistry on the ice then the potential for this offensive line is certainly there. This also allows Backes to play on the third line with Heinen and Nash. This makes the Bruins a hard team to play against, especially when all three lines are rolling. Along with the fact that the Bruins can use a more physical fourth line in the Schaller/Kurally/Acciari. Because of the offensive production from the top three lines.
While on the face this lineup does not seem to be that potent. It is very well-balanced and if managed correctly could be a good offensive unit in the post season.
Unlike the offense for the Bruins there is much less certainty on the back end. McAvoy is an all around stud in all three zones but is still only 20 years young, and has a lot of responsibility on him this time around. While Chara is still an excellent defender he is 40 years old. The games this season begin to mount the question of his durability. If you actually take a deeper look at the defense core there is no real proven reliable players. Krug and Carlo are widely inconsistent, and McQuaid and Miller cannot seem to stay on the ice for more than a handful of games. So other than McAvoy and a 40-year-old Chara the defense of the Bruins is rather lackluster.
An opposing team could take advantage of the inexperience and inconsistently of the Bruins’ back end throughout a seven game series. Ultimately that could be their downfall at end of the day against a high-octane offense such as the Tampa Bay Lighting. At the end of the day these Bruins could potentially compete for the Eastern Conference championship. Maybe even the Stanley Cup final as long as they maintain this level of play. This team has shown time and time again that they cannot be counted out of any game.