The 2021 NHL season has shown to be an uncharacteristic season for the Boston Bruins, who find themselves fourth in the East Division and haven’t looked like a team that can compete for the Championship, until now.
They are sitting on a 5-game win streak and appear to be a team looking more cohesive than they have for the entirety of the season, which has certainly started to turn the heads of the top teams in the league.
The fact remains, two of the leagues’ best still play in Boston. Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak have been prolific in scoring and assisting in the last few games for the Bruins. If these two are hot when the playoffs start, they will certainly be able to contend with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Kucherov.
Looking at the NHL futures across the best online bookmakers, the Bruins are hovering around+1700 to clinch the title, which certainly offers great value to bettors. But, do the Bruins really have a chance?
How are the Bruins shaping up as we approach the playoffs?
The playoff race looked a lot simpler just a few weeks ago. With the top four teams in each division creating a real gap between themselves and the rest of the pack, it’s the wild card places that are most interesting.
There are a few unlikely contenders showing their worth as we approach the final stages of the regular season. But, it's the Bruins resurgence in recent weeks that’s the most interesting talking point in the National Hockey League right now.
The Bruins tipped off their season as you’d expect, but hit a real slump in form between February and April, recording just 10 wins in 25 games. Injuries and a lack of unity on the ice left the team looking depleted and without direction.
Boston has to compete with a strong New York Rangers side for the final playoff spot in the East Division. Fortunately for them, they are starting to look more like the team we saw during the opening weeks of the 2021 season.
It’s easy to forget the quality Boston possesses. Tuukka Rask remains one of the top shot-stoppers in the league, blocking 30 of 33 shots in the 6-3 win against Championship rivals the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins will look to Patrice Bergeron, club legend Brad Marchand, and David Krejci in the postseason. But the rise of a second scoring line is what will worry the other contenders, as Taylor Hall and Craig Smith have started to put up numbers.
Hall has scored 2 goals in his first four games for Boston, with Smith putting up 19 points in his last 16 games. These are the kind of numbers the Bruins so desperately need.
Marchand and Pastrnak are veterans of the game and will be able to guide the younger, less experienced heads through the playoff stages.
While it may still seem far-fetched to assume the Bruins are going to be able to compete with the firepower of the Lightning or the solidity of the Knights, if they can keep this form up anything is possible.
Bruce Cassidy will be keen to utilize the second scoring line as much as possible, with the playoffs beginning in less than 3 weeks it’s time to get his team firing on all cylinders. But, first of all, they must make the playoff positions.
The four teams in the East are separated by just six points and the Bruins have 3 games in hand on the Capitals with one more head-to-head matchup yet to come. With a fairly easy road of fixtures to go, one would expect Boston to get over the line. A head-to-head with the Rangers and a regular-season finale against Washington are sure to be fireworks.
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