As things stand, the NHL is planning to have games resume at some point over the coming weeks. Assuming the regular season continues, there will be plenty of things to watch for over the stretch run. Over the coming weeks, PHR will examine the top stretch run storylines for each team. We open up our look at the Atlantic Division with Boston.
Whereas many teams that fall just short of a Stanley Cup championship struggle maintaining their success the following season, that hasn’t been the case in Boston, where the Bruins have been dominant one of the most top-heavy divisions in the NHL. The Bruins have been clearly the best team in the NHL as they are the only team to have broken the 100-point mark before the NHL suspended their season. It’s clear that Boston’s only goal is return to the Stanley Cup Finals and this time win it.
Can Suspension Of Play Affect Bruins’ Succcess?
The Bruins have been rolling and looked like the top candidate to win a Stanley Cup. However, a break in play can’t be good for a team that was playing this well. The Bruins have won 16 of their last 20 games. A long break could definitely affect players in different ways — whether they are all staying to top shape, etc. as well as how they play with each other. It could take longer than usual for any team to regain their form.
With that the NHL could shorten or even cancel the remainder of the regular season in hopes of pushing the playoffs even closer, Boston, full of veteran players, could find themselves struggling to get out of the gate and an early playoff exit could be a real possibility.
The Boston Bruins accomplished all this despite struggling significantly with injuries on the back end. Over the season, the team has dealt with significant injuries to John Moore, Kevan Miller, Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug and Connor Clifton, but has been able to put together a patch work of players to fill out their rosters while their players recover on injured reserve. The forward lines have also been hit hard with numerous injuries as well.
While most of those players were back with the team before the season was suspended, the break could offer some positive points as well. It will offer a significant advantage to the team who has been ravaged by injuries this season. If all players have plenty of time to get over their injuries, they may have a full and complete roster to help them to their eventual goal.
Trade Deadline Acquisitions
The Boston Bruins picked up a couple of key forwards at the trade deadline when it acquired Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie from Anaheim in separate deals. The hope that Kase would provide the team a significant upgrade to the team’s top-six, while Ritchie could also add some key depth to Boston’s bottom six.
Kase, who was injured at the time of the trade, hasn’t accomplished that yet. He was activated a few days after the trade and immediately placed on the top line, but in seven games had registered only an assist. The team’s hope was that being surrounded with veteran talent would bring out Kase’s potential to score goals and turn him into the high-scoring player that many envisioned when he scored 20 goals in 2017-18. Ritchie had a goal and an assist in seven games, another player who the team felt had potential.
However, considering that it takes time to develop cohesiveness with new teammates on the ice, this break certainly won’t make it easier for either player to improve and adjust to a new team, especially if the regular season is cut short or cancelled.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.