The Boston Bruins have finally put an end to their playoff absence. After a convincing 4-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lighting last night, the B’s clinched their first playoff birth after missing the cut three seasons straight. It may not sound like a long time to be away from post-season hockey, but for a city that has winning in its culture, and for a team that made the playoffs eight straight seasons prior to missing out, its been a hell of a wait.
The Bruins (44-30-6) currently sit second in the Atlantic Division, tied with the Ottawa Senators (42-27-10) who have a game in hand on Boston. As if being tied for second wasn’t big enough, both teams face each on Thursday at TD Garden. No doubt that’ll be a decisive match-up, determining who’ll seed where for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After last nights win the B’s are winners of six straight, and are 6-4-0 in their last ten. One of the hottest teams in the NHL, heating up right before the playoffs is always a good thing for a hockey club.
Goaltender Tuukka Rask, despite taking a lot of heat this season, has stepped up immensely down the stretch. In his last four starts he has picked up two shutouts, and has allowed only three goals over that period. Helping when needed and taking the pressure off Rask, back-up Anton Khudobin has also been solid, allowing just three goals in his last two starts. Including a standout performance against the Chicago Blackhawks.
It’s been a long three years. The last playoff action the Bruins were a part of was a game 7 defeat to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Back then, the roster was different, with the likes of Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton, Jerome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk adoring the spoked-B. The coaches behind the bench were different also, as Claude Julien was fired earlier in the season (now back in Montreal) and was replaced by Bruce Cassidy, so far it seems to have worked.
This present Bruins line-up consists of a lot of players who have never experienced playoff hockey. The likes of David Pastrnak, Frankie Vatrano, Brandon Carlo and many more will be getting their first taste of post-season hockey, and as excited as they are, they better be ready for it.
It took them three years, and 80 games. The Boston Bruins are back in the playoffs.