Boston Bruins Focus Shifts to New York Islanders in Playoff Race After Disappointing Divisional Stretch
The Boston Bruins are stumbling at the worst time. Despite starting off their tenure under Bruce Cassidy with explosive play and fast-paced action, the team has regressed to their old ways at the worst time. With Claude Julien at the helm, the Bruins were often criticized for being inconsistent and lacking a true will to play in the big games. This was the downfall of the team in each of the last two seasons, and the Bruins’ ultimately decided they needed a change. Cassidy was the logical replacement as the team’s interim head coach, and things started off well enough – but the team is starting to show cracks in their armor that reflect the team they once were, begging the question – was the coach the issue?
In short, it’s something that will never be known. Regardless, it’s not important anyway given the fact that the change has been made and the Bruins now need to look forward. With the remaining portion of the Bruins season holding more weight than ever following the team’s four consecutive losses to the Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Tampa Bay Lightning.
New York Islanders up Next
The Bruins are set to take on a struggling New York Islanders team Saturday who are competing for the same wild-card spot that the Bruins are vying for. With a 1-5 record in their last six games, and a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins coming Friday ahead of their matchup with the Bruins, the Islanders could be exactly the team the Bruins need to face to get back on track.
This game will not be easy for the Bruins, especially with the way they’ve played as of late. Still, the Bruins have the ability to play at a top level – it’s something they proved under their first few weeks with Cassidy, and something they will need to prove again.
When looking at the current playoff structure, the Bruins have as good a chance as the Islanders or the Maple Leafs to qualify for the postseason. Any of those teams can get hot, and any of those teams can get – or in the case of the Bruins and Islanders, remain cold.
Players Need to Pull Their Weight
The team needs to put all of their efforts forward in each game for a full 60 minutes – any player that lags behind needs to be left behind.
The Bruins have many players who are immensely talented. It’s unacceptable, then, that so many of them disappear in certain games when the team needs them most. While the Bruins can’t realistically substitute David Krejci in the lineup, they do have an abundance of centers as well as winger options in Providence in Peter Cehlarik and Jake DeBrusk who could be called up in a pinch. As such, players like Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner, who have displayed a lot of skill and talent, should not feel complacent in the lineup.
The Bruins have collapsed during the month of March in each of the last three seasons. A far cry from the 2013-14 season when the Bruins went 15-1-1 in March, including a 12-game win streak and points coming in the latter 16 games of the month after dropping the first game to the Washington Capitals.
There is still time to turn the season around, but the team ultimately needs to earn points in every single game. Even more, they’ll need to win out the season to really have a chance. The road will be rough, but it’s time for the Bruins to stand united and stop falling back on excuses. They will need to play this final stretch of the season one game at a time.