Boston Bruins’ Post-Bye Week Stretch Most Important of 2016-17 Season
The Boston Bruins are well-rested and ready to roll. After winning three consecutive games under Bruce Cassidy, the team had a well-deserved six days off. In that time, the Bruins remained in the playoffs in the Atlantic Division despite the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers all playing and owning games-in-hand on Boston.
Now that the Bruins are set to return to action Sunday, they’re entering the most important stretch of the 2016-17 season. The team showed a very strong effort under Cassidy in their first three games outside of the Claude Julien-era. The effort was there. The new system was showcased. Now the team needs to show that they weren’t simply displaying a flash-in-the-pan effort.
Consistency The Biggest Question
One of the biggest issues for the Bruins over the last few seasons has been inconsistency. It isn’t uncommon for Boston to play some of their best hockey in one game and come out flat in the next. The hope is that this new system will not only produce results, but also consistency from a game-to-game basis. The best teams in the league year in and year out boast consistency – the Bruins will need to figure that aspect of their game out if they want to compete.
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The Bruins start their post-bye schedule with a west-coast road trip. They’ll be taking on the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. They’ll follow that up with a two-day break before taking on the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings in back-to-back games on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.
For Boston, these games will test their new system and the personnel involved. Were the first few games under Cassidy a fluke, or is it the new norm? Only time will tell, but there’s no doubt that Bruins fanbase is yearning for a solid stretch of play. With a team full of players that are currently in their prime, it’s likely the team is also sick of the inconsistency. Whether or not they take matters into their own hands is another story, however. Despite the record of teams following their respective bye-weeks this season, the Bruins need to play as if it’s any other game and buck the trend.
Peter Cehlarik Recalled
After his first two games in the NHL, Peter Cehlarik has shown that he can play with the big boys. After being sent to Providence to practice with the team all week, the Bruins recalled him Saturday ahead of their trip out west. Despite showing a very good skillset and gelling with David Krejci, the same questions of consistency will be asked about Cehlarik.
The sample that the team has gotten from him has been great. Due to how small the sample is, however, expectations have to be kept realistic until he shows that he can consistently play at such a high level. Still – it’s hard to not appreciate how well Cehlarik played in his first two games en route to two points in his first two contests.
The Boston Bruins look like a totally new team under Cassidy. If they can find any level of consistency to close out the season, this could finally be the year they return to the playoffs. If they can’t, then the team will have to return to the drawing board with questions being asked about the roster, Cassidy’s interim title, as well as Sweeney and Neely as the general manager and president respectively.