With the Bruins playing in the round-robin part of the NHL return, they had the luxury of time to “find” their game. Well, after two lackluster performances in the past week (including a 4-1 loss to a talented Flyers team), the time is now for the Bruins to find “it”.
What might be the most troubling aspect of it all… the Bruins have played one good period out of the six in Toronto.
The team is saying the right things at the moment, but actions always speak louder than words. Can they “turn on the switch”? Absolutely. The question is, ultimately, how quickly can they do it?. With Tampa Bay on the schedule tomorrow, it will not be easy.
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The road to the Cup isn’t supposed to be easy. Certainly not this year when an additional eight teams compete for the Stanley Cup after a long layoff. A Stanley Cup tournament the likes we have never seen before.
The Bruins have a lot working in their favor. They have the leadership to win the Cup and a plethora of playoff experience. They were a wagon at the start of the season and just prior to the halt in March. December and January? Not so much. Which Bruins team will show up? The fact that they have looked like the “middle of the season” version of the Bruins should be a little concerning.
Maybe it’s an overreaction. Boston fans tend to get uneasy early and often. You will be hard-pressed to find a more rabid fan base in New England. Despite the larger fanbases of the other professional sports in the region.
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The Bruins have two games remaining before the “real” playoffs. One each against the Lightning and the Capitals. With these two teams, you know what type of game you will get. The Bruins play both tough but it never comes easy and it is never a guarantee they walk away with points. And, given their loss to Philadelphia, they will need to win both of these games to have a chance to remain the top seed in the conference.
The top line has been virtually invisible. An issue that plagued the team in the middle part of the season. For a team that gets nearly 50 percent of their offensive production from their top unit, that can’t last. The second line, as always, is a work in progress aside from Jack Studnicka, who has impressed early on. This may not bode well for newcomer Ondrej Kase whose absence at the beginning of camp left him in limbo. The Bruins could use a physical lift and Nick Ritchie could be the answer. The Bruins acquire “the other” Ritchie for just that purpose and with the ice conditions in Toronto suspect at times, someone with his skill set could thrive.
With that said, the bottom six forwards for the Bruins have been solid. The Bjork-Coyle-Kuhlman has potential, but eventually, one of them has to put the puck in the net consistently. This is where Ritchie fits. His physical play compliments Coyle’s possession skills and could open the ice up for Bjork. In addition, although a fine player, Kuhlman doesn’t seem ready yet to carry that task. The kid has tools to be in a bottom-six role in the NHL, but we gotta see more from him.
#NHLBruins coach Bruce Cassidy looks ahead to tomorrow’s game against the Lightning: “We’re trying to build our game and get better every time out. We’re gonna need to be if we want to beat Tampa.” pic.twitter.com/Xk9WRmlYkJ
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) August 4, 2020
The Sean Kuraly line is fine how it is. Some would like Kuraly on the wing with Coyle, however, the Bruins’ strength for years has been down the middle and it should stay that way. Bruce Cassidy won’t hesitate to mix things up if need be but Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner play their roles well alongside Kuraly. It’s not a flashy line just an effective one.
At the end of the day, you will go as far as Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak takes you. The Jennings Trophy-winning goalies have been lackluster at best through two games. Rask is expected to return against Tampa after a brief absence and will have another opportunity to sharpen his game before the real playoffs begin.
The Bruins have the tools to make a run here, but you gotta execute the game plan and that has to start tomorrow afternoon.
From the Author: The last few weeks have been a turbulent one for my family. With that being said, thank you for all of the support. Now let us watch hockey because it is back and that is a good thing.
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