Mar 14, 2013; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell (51) takes a shot while defended by Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) during the first period at TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Last Stretch: 2013 Abridged, Islanders or Leafs, are the Bruins ready?

It’s nearing the end of April and the Boston Bruins have 4 games remaining in the shortened 2013 season. This season has seen it’s ups and it’s downs, and we’ve seen faces come and go throughout the last 40+ games and now with the playoffs creeping up over the horizon we can look back on the season and see how exactly the Bruins have done this year.

2 years removed from their Stanley Cup win in 2011, the Bruins are obviously hungry to make it back to the promise land but they aren’t playing with that hunger. The Boston Bruins had great flashes throughout the season but have once again fallen into their spring slump which always seems to come at a costly time for the team’s morale. This year however, it’s been different. The Bruins went on a small losing streak recently and played some of their less inspired hockey all season, but there have been key players who have never failed to make a difference during those games and never missed a beat. Among those players are aging star Jagmoir Jagr, the healthy and returned Chris Kelly and the ever dangerous Merlot Line. The Bruins offence has been a little shaky here and there through out the season, especially when injuries took Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Chris Kelly out of the line up; but there has been producing up front from a lot of players and the additions of Jagr and Soderberg just aid the offence even more.

Goaltending has been nothing short of fantastic. Tuukka Rask has his first starting goalie role since the 2009-10 season when Tim Thomas missed extended periods of time with hip surgery and he has greatly impressed. He is not only deserving of a long term contract after this season, but he definitely has a cap on the starting goal tender role for a long time here in Boston, even if the playoffs take a toll on him and he skips a beat here and there. Anton Khudobin has done a great job as a back up goalie this season, but with Niklas Svedberg tearing it up in Providence with a 37-8-2 record, Svedberg might be getting an NHL job next year in favor of Anton Khudobin; although right now might be too early to judge.

The Boston Bruins right now are cruising out of a losing slump as previously stated and are still neck and neck with the Montreal Canadiens for the Northeast Divison. If the Bruins take the division they will face the ever hot New York Islanders (who in their last ten have posted an 8-0-2 record) and Evgeni Nabakov. Nabakov has a history of coming up big in the playoffs when needed, and while he hasn’t seen NHL playoff action since the 2009-10 season with the Sharks, his 2.29 GAA and .914 SV% in 80 playoff games shouldn’t be taken lightly, he has the skill and is currently on a hot streak with his team that could spell bad news for Boston. However, if the Bruins fail to capture the division, we will face the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bruins were 2-1-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the season series this year, and despite the fact James Reimer has helped clinch a playoff spot for the Leafs for the first time in 9 years, this will be his first NHL playoff series. Also a majority of the Maple Leafs squad hasn’t seen playoff action in several years or no playoffs at all, so the Bruins could take full advantage of that and use the pressure against the Leafs to their advantage for an easy sweep.

But are the Bruins truly ready to go all the way this year? The answer.. is a very unsure maybe. It’s difficult to really piece together the idea that the Bruins can make a cup run right now with their current state of play, but maybe a loss or two in the first round might kick the B’s into high gear. However, the doubts are high that the Bruins will lose Game 1 or any games at all, especially with the addition of Jarmoir Jagr and  his longtime playoff experience and playoff goal scoring. Plus his great chemistry with Brad Marchand and quickly developing chemistry with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly just might be the spark the Bruins need to light a long playoff fire. Only time will tell, and time is running out.

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Thursday, Oct 2323 Oct7:00New York IslandersBuy Tickets

Tags: 2012-13 Season Boston Bruins Jarmoir Jagr Northeast Division Season Review Toronto Maple Leafs Tuukka Rask

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