5 Players Who Are Crucial to Boston Bruins’ Playoff Success
5 Crucial Players for Boston Bruins
Despite their recent struggles, the Boston Bruins have a legitimate opportunity to make a run in this year's NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. It may be tough to sell this concept to their fans, what with the rough two months the team just endured. Make no mistake, though, there is reason for hope in Boston.
Of course, the Bruins can't simply walk in to the postseason assuming the names on the back of their jerseys are automatic tickets to the next round. Their first round matchup against the division rival Toronto Maple Leafs is no easy feat. Even though Boston has treated the Leafs as the kid brother of the Northeast Division for the past few years, Toronto has the talent to be a thorn in the Bruins' side in this series. Players such as James van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul are threats to score, and you just know the Boston faithful are ready to welcome former Bruin Phil Kessel back to the playoffs in a way that could be lightly put as "less than polite."
The Bruins can't look at past success and assume Toronto will be a pushover. Sure, Boston won the Stanley Cup two years ago. Just don't forget this championship was sandwiched between seasons ending by the second round at the latest.
If the Bruins plan to contend for the Stanley Cup, they will need to right the ship. In order to do so, they will need the following players to step up in a big way.
When Tim Thomas ran off to his bunker this offseason, the Bruins brass didn't hesitate to hand the reigns to Rask. Posting a save percentage of .929 and a GAA of 2.00, Rask hasn't given people reason to complain this year. However, he's been on the receiving end of criticism from coach Claude Julien for a lack of timely saves. Let's not forget the last time Rask was in net during the playoffs, amidst a historic 3-0 collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers. Now, Rask has been given a chance to show Boston he can handle the pressures of the playoffs.
Currently catching a ton of heat, saying it’s been an off year for Lucic is the definition of sugarcoating. After scoring 56 goals in the previous two years, the hulking winger has only tallied seven this season. Even worse, his physical play was nonexistent for most of the year, with Lucic sometimes looking disinterested. He may be turning it around, though. Since recently being scratched against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Lucic has a goal, two assists, and two fights. Lucic is by no means the source of Boston's offense, but his physical play sets the tone for the entire team. If he can continue throwing his body around and bruising opponents, Boston's chances greatly improve.
Not bold to say the team captain needs to step up, but it’s been an off year for Chara. He still logs a ton of ice time, especially when the opposing team's stars are active. Still, the massive Slovak has had a few lapses this season. By the final weeks of the season Chara looked, dare I say it, tired. Never the rah-rah captain, Big Z leads by example. He'll need to do just that and up his physical game for the Bruins to succeed.
After playing at a point-per-game pace overseas during the lockout, it took some time for Seguin to get into his groove this season. Immensely talented, his funk was concerning and his minutes began to decrease, especially on the power play. If he rediscovers the chemistry with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, Seguin could be a huge difference maker in the playoffs. The talent is there in bulk; consider Toronto warned if he can hone it in consistently.
The Bruins power play this season was, putting it delicately, abysmal at times. They cannot assume they'll ride through the postseason with an awful power play again. So the front office traded for a hired gun in Jagr to boost the special teams off life support. With two goals and nine points, Jagr has done a decent job at getting on the board. The Bruins will need him for points, but also his postseason experience. This will be Jagr's 17th postseason appearance, and Boston showed how important veteran experience can be in 2011 with Mark Recchi.