The Boston Bruins have had a stellar season thus far, sitting in third place in the entire league and are just two wins away from officially clinching a playoff spot. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they are in second place in what has quickly become the toughest division to play in.
There will be no catching the Tampa Bay Lightning, as they sit 19 points ahead of the Bruins and have already clinched the Presidents Trophy for best regular season record. So, now it is just a matter of who will have home-ice advantage in the first round: the Bruins or the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fortunately for the Bruins, they currently hold a six-point (or three-game) lead over the Maple Leafs with just nine games remaining in the regular season.
So, let’s take a look at what the Bruins need to do, or continue doing, for the remainder of the season to ensure home-ice advantage going into the playoffs.
Well this one seems pretty obvious, but getting healthy, especially on the defensive end, will be huge for the Bruins heading into the playoffs. In the past two seasons, the Bruins had good defensive depth, but still seemed depleted due to various injuries. Also, getting Marcus Johansson and David Pastrnak back to 100 percent will be important for some much-needed depth scoring going forward.
Continue Quality Goaltending
So far this season, the Bruins have received good goaltending from both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Having a guy like Halak as a safety net for Rask when he is going through a rough patch has worked great this season. Halak has also been a decent backup option if Rask struggles again in the playoffs.
Continue Secondary Scoring
The Bruins went 12–3–1 without their leading goal scorer, Pastrnak, which says a ton about the Bruins' secondary scoring as of late. Against the New York Islanders last week, three of the Bruins five goals scored came from the Bruins' fourth line and another from the Bruins' second line. The Bruins will need to keep up this production throughout the lineup, and hopefully reincorporating Pastrnak into the lineup should help spread out the scoring a bit as well.
If the Bruins can manage to clinch home-ice advantage sooner rather than later, then resting important players could be very beneficial for the Bruins going into the playoffs. If the Bruins hope to make a long playoff run, it would be a shame to ruin that by losing an important player in a meaningless regular-season game.
The Bruins have been playing some of their best hockey in the past 20–25 games and they should only get better as more impact players, like Johansson and Torey Krug, get back to 100 percent. The Bruins have built a team that has the potential to compete for a championship this season, but unfortunately, they are going to have the toughest road to the finals. For now, let’s just concentrate on playing well these last nine games and getting home-ice advantage in the first round against the Maple Leafs.