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This could be the year. This could be the first year since the players strike that the Bruins will make the playoffs. Yes it is only February but the Bruins sit in seventh place in the conference. They currently have 57 points following their big win against the Predators. They have three more points than both the Rangers and Islanders while having just two less points than the New Jersey Devils who sit in sixth place. If we look at the division the Bruins are only five points back from the Canadians, who have owned the Bruins so far this season and dating back to last year. Sitting in third place looks to be a good spot for the Bruins to finish in the division as they are ahead of the struggling Sabres and should not have to worry about the Maple Leafs who sit in the basement of the division.
The Bruins have been playing extremely well of late as they get ready for two big match ups against the two best teams in the league, the Ottawa Senators host the Bruins on Thursday and the Bruins play host to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. In their last five games the Bruins are 4-1 and have a respectable 7-3-1 record in January.
Looking past this weekend the Bruins have a great chance to improve their positional standings as they play a home and home against the struggling Sabres in the coming week and host the Panthers and Hurricanes before starting a five game road swing that starts on February 13 in Pittsburgh and ends on February 23 in Tampa Bay. However this are a few things that could ruin this possible play off run.
A) Injury. All ready pretty beaten up, they are missing Patrice Bergeron and Andrew Alberts do to concussions and have no idea on a return for them. Glen Murray has also been in and out of the line up with a hip problem. In order to stay in the play off race the Bruins need to keep every man they have on their current roster healthy.
B) Trade Deadline. The trade deadline is quickly approaching and the Bruins have a bad habit of making bad decisions at the deadline. Two years ago they traded Sergi Samsonov for a supposed to be that never developed and last year the trades of Brad Boyes and Paul Mara exploded on them. A trade that doesn’t help out for this season is not one worth making and they have to be careful about them. With Glen Murray’s name rumored they have to make sure they get equal or greater value for him, if he is dealt.
C) Emotions. In a win against the Predators the Bruins used their emotions as a positive with some timely hits and fights help them gain motivation. However in a 5-3 loss to Montreal and an 8-2 loss also to Montreal earlier this month the Bruins lost control of their emotions and took bad penalties, costing them the games.
D) Special teams play. The Bruins currently are fourth in the league in powper play percentage with a conversion rate of just over 20% they need to keep this up and score on the man advantage to give themselves a chance to win. On the pentaly kill the Bruins are one of six teams in the league below 80% with 78.7% of penalties killed off. Not good enough, teams are just to good on the power play and if you can’t kill the penalties off don’t take them.
If the Bruins can stay on the positive side and don’t fall off the map in the last few months of the season they should be in good shape to make a playoff appearance for the first time since they were the number one seed before the lockout.
from my blog http://www.sammonroe.net