It wasn’t long ago that many had the Boston Bruins written off as rebuilding, lottery-bound cellar-dwellers.
But with Saturday’s 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston remains right in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The B’s have won two straight and six of their last seven, good for a 12-8-4 record on the season.
As of Saturday evening, the Bruins are ninth in the east with 29 points, just one point behind the Washington Capitals for the last playoff spot in the conference. But the Bruins have played just 24 games, compared to 26 for the Caps. In fact, every other team in the conference, other than the 13th-place Ottawa Senators, have played more games than Boston.
Now, no one is saying the B’s are are about to contend for a Stanley Cup. But considering their early-season struggles, along with the persistent biting of the injury bug, the Bruins actually are in a pretty good spot with the season already past the one-quarter mark.
Consider this: The Bruins have endured the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Backes, Torey Krug and David Krejci all missing significant time with injuries. Furthermore, some of their young players also have missed time at various points, and No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask played so poorly in November that Bruins fans started calling for his permanent benching.
Despite all that, Bruce Cassidy’s club has risen its game back to a level that would make missing the playoffs a major disappointment. Sure, Boston is far from a perfect team, and it’s hard to look at them and not still think that they’re at least a couple years away from being true contenders.
But this is a team and a fan base that, fair or not, expects postseason play on a yearly basis. And somehow, someway, the Bruins are back in a position to deliver on those expectations.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Flyers:
— Rask picked up his first shutout of the season, and 39th of his career.
— It was fathers’ day at Wells Fargo Center.
— Both Anders Bjork (upper body) and Krejci (back) returned to the lineup Saturday after missing multiple games with injuries.
— The B’s will travel to Nashville to play the Predators on Monday. The defending Western Conference champions currently are 4th in the west standings.
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