Op-Ed: Is this the last run at the cup for this Bruins core?

A preview of the Boston Bruins matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Boston Bruins will begin their quest for the 2022 Stanley Cup on May 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes. This will be the teams third meeting in four years in the playoffs. They last met in the 2020 playoffs in the bubble, with the Bruins beating the Hurricanes in five. Before that, the Bruins swept the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019. The season series this year the Hurricanes have absolutely dominated the Bruins. In the three games played this season, the Hurricanes won all three of them by a goal differential of 16-1 with the Bruins lone goal coming from the power play.

This is not the same Hurricanes team the Bruins have seen in the past few years. This is a team that is young, fast, skilled and can shoot the puck. They are led by their star forward Sebastian Aho who leads the team in points with 81. Followed that up with Aho’s linemates Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen you have one of the best first lines in the league. Their defense is headlined by defenseman Jaccob Slavin who is one of the best left-shot defenseman in the league. In goal the Hurricanes signed goalie Frederik Andersen, who has posted one of his best seasons this year. Andersen has a .922% save percentage and allows 2.17 goals per game. 

However, the Bruins may be getting the Hurricanes at the right time. It’s been reported that Andersen could miss the first few games of the series with an undisclosed injury he suffered on April 16. The Hurricanes do have a good backup in goalie Antti Raanta, but Raanta suffered a lower body injury a few days ago. He has played through it, but it’s up in the air what the status of the Hurricanes goalies will be.

For the Bruins this will be their sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs. After a slow start to the 2021-2022 season, the Bruins turned it on in the new calendar year. Since January 1, the Bruins are one of the hottest teams in the NHL, finishing with a record of 37-16-3. 

You can give credit to Coach Bruce Cassidy for all the success in 2022. After an underwhelming start to the season, Cassidy decided to break up the “perfection line” of forwards Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Pastrnak moved down to the second line to play with forwards Taylor Hall and Erik Haula. Moving up to the first line with the duo of Marchand and Begeron would be struggling forward Jake DeBrusk. DeBrusk has been an utter disappointment for the past few seasons, not providing the Bruins with the goals and assists they wanted. TDeBrusk publicly requested a trade away from the Bruins, seeking a fresh start away from Boston. Seeing this Cassidy decided to move DeBrusk to the top line to play with two future hall of farmers to hopefully spark his game again. It completely paid off as since the move DeBrusk has scored 20 goals and 14 assists, looking like the player the Bruins drafted with their first round pick back in 2015. 

For the first time it seems as if the Bruins finally got some depth scoring from all their lines. Something they have lacked in the past few years during the playoffs when their perfection line was not producing. Another plus is that the Bruins have a retooled fourth line. Come playoff time you want your fourth line to be hard hitting, tough, and grind out a good shift against other teams best lines. The Bruins have a good one with the offseason additions of Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek. The two offer that grit and size the Bruins have lacked in their fourth line. 

The Bruins revamped their defense with the acquisition of defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Josh Brown at the trade deadline. Leading the defense is star defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who has transformed into the team’s number one defenseman. Adding Lindholm has given the Bruins a left-shot defenseman to play alongside McAvoy. Something they have not had since they decided to part ways with former captain Zdeno Chara. The duo will be the Bruins future at the blue line, as both players inked up long term deals to stay in Boston. Brown adds some depth for the Bruins defense with his big body and hard hitting game. The Bruins are rounded up with good defensemen in Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk and others.

In net the Bruins have an exciting goaltending duo of Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. Ullmark has come under scrutiny for his play during the beginning of the year, but has turned in some quality performances in net, highlighted by a 12 game stretch where he posted a .945% save percentage. Rookie Jeremy Swayman had a good first year in the NHL, notching a .917% save percentage and 23 wins. A good first impression for his first full year in the league, showing fans why he may be the goalie of the future for the Bruins. The tandem of Ullmark and Swayman gives Cassidy a big decision to make on who to start for Game 1 against the Hurricanes. Cassidy also stated he would not be opposed to playing both goalies in the playoffs. 

With all that being said the biggest question for this Bruins team is if this could be the last hurrah to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are a good team and look like they can reach the playoffs every year. However, after every season the concern is that this could be their last chance at winning the cup. Bergeron and Marchand are the only two players who remain from the team that won the cup in 2011.

The two are the stars of the team, but are getting up there in age. Bergeron, the captain of the team who will turn 37 in July, is a free agent at the end of the year, and has not indicated if he will continue playing or not. A lot of speculation has been made of this, but Bergeron has not made anything public on this matter. For Marchand, who is turning 34 in two weeks, he has three years left on his contract after this season. Marchand has continued to play at the high elite level and has consistently been the Bruins best player every season. With all this in mind we could be witnessing the last run at the cup for these two. It would be nice to give Bergeron one last chance to win the cup to send him off if this is truly his last season. Only time will tell, but the Bruins are a team that may not look like the favorite to win it all this year. Don’t rule them out either though, because anything can happen in the NHL playoffs.

Facebook Comments