Noonan: Boston Bruins Playoff Thoughts and Predictions
By Matt Noonan
Noontime Sports will make sure to keep you up to date with both the Boston Bruins and Celtics, as they each compete for championships and glory.
However, despite us not actually being at the TD Garden for the next two months or wherever the teams may travel, it will be our goal to provide the best insight, opinions and analysis after the conclusion of every contest.
We begin our two part series on looking at both squads, as well as analyzing their chances on brining a championship to Boston. Here is our take on the Boston Bruins, as well as our thoughts on if the Black and Gold can win the Stanley Cup this season.
Thoughts on the Boston Bruins: For many Bostonians and New Englanders, the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs couldn’t have returned at a better time. All the Black and Gold supporters are revved up and ready for some playoff hockey, in fact, it has been on the menu since the 2010-11 season began primarily because of the most epic collapse in Boston sports history.
After earning their first series win against a rather talented Buffalo Sabres team, which was captained by the best goaltender in the world, Ryan Miller, the city of Boston was buzzing and images of a Stanley Cup parade were on the minds of many fans or spectators, especially after an early 3-0 series lead against the modern day, “Broad Street Bullies.” Everything was set up perfectly for the Bruins because one more win meant punching their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals, which hasn’t happened since their last visit in 1992 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Game 4 arrived and with the chance to close out the series and then eventually play the eighth seeded Montreal Canadiens; Boston immediately switched gears and turned into a very timid squad that witnessed the Philadelphia Flyers tally 15-goals in four games, as well as a Bruins shutout at the TD Garden during Game 5.
Let’s just say it was awful and what was even worse was the dramatic Game 7, which literally recapped and highlighted the entire series. The Bruins took an early 3-0 lead during the first period, but then squandered any chance of a possible victory and allowed Philadelphia the opportunity to record four goals.
Philadelphia celebrated like champions and then marched onto the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks two series later, which didn’t end in their favor, as the Hawks won the series, 4-2.
While the Boston-Philadelphia redemption maybe on everyone’s mind, the Black and Gold though are a much more talented team than in years past. They may not have won as many games as they did during the 2008-09 season, but between solid goaltending of Tim Thomas, as well as the recent play of Zdeno Chara, the Bruins seem determined to not let another downfall occur.
Although, let’s also be completely honest and state that head coach Claude Julien is probably somewhere crossing his fingers extra tightly, so that he won’t have to send any cover letters for a new job.
Yet, what will make this second season quite enjoyable are a few things, which includes, playing quality defense, winning face-offs and making sure to win power plays. Although, didn’t the Bruins bring in Tomas Kaberle for the power play? If so, here is the perfect opportunity for the former Toronto Maple Leaf to earn his paycheck.
Also, watch the play of Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic, who should certainly spark the Bruins offense. Lucic, who clearly has had one of his best seasons will need to ratchet up his game, as well as find any scoring opportunity to give Boston comfortable leads throughout the first and second period.
Another thing the Bruins need to do this postseason is actually play physical hockey. It seemed as if the Flyers had stolen their mojo after Game 4 and never returned it. Watch any highlights of their final four games of the playoffs and even the casual fan will notice that the Bruins physicality and adrenaline had officially evaporated.
All in all, the Bruins certainly have potential to make this a fun and exciting post-season, but similar to their past three seasons, they have struggled immensely.
The Bruins have a much deeper bench than previous seasons, as well as have a boatload of talent. They made the right moves, added the necessary pieces that general manager Peter Chiarelli felt were necessary, so now, it’s time to sit back, relax, grab some pop corn and see what this team is made of, but who knows, maybe New Englanders will watch yet another tumultuous ending, but what do I know?
Prediction: I’ll say that the Boston Bruins will at least make it to the Eastern Conference playoffs and face either the New York Rangers or Philadelphia Flyers to decide who will represent the east in the Stanley Cup Finals. I don’t see the Bruins making it to the championship this year, but being able to play in an Eastern Conference championship for the first time in 19-years is clearly the right step for this organization.
Also, if the Bruins can indeed make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, expect head coach Claude Julien to return for the 2011-12 season.
Stanley Cup Prediction: Detroit Red Wings vs. New York Rangers, (Red Wings win the series in six games, 4-2).