The Boston Bruins are loaded with depth, especially now that they’re almost entirely healthy.
But depth always is tested in the postseason, and thus Tuesday’s game was an important one for the B’s, who sat 16 regulars for their regular-season finale. The end result was a 2-1, last-second loss to a Washington Capitals team that dressed mostly its full roster and next up for both teams is a playoff series against one another that begins Saturday.
Despite the result, a few Bruins stood out in what was a challenging situation to walk into. So, here are a few players who made cases to move up the depth chart.
He could be a Par Lindholm type for the Bruins this postseason: Seldom plays except for in a pinch, but you know what you’re getting out of him. Hughes was one of Providence’s steadiest forwards this season, and the 24-year-old had the best offensive campaign of his pro career with five goals and 16 assists in 25 games. Making his NHL season debut Tuesday (and playing in his second NHL game), Hughes logged just over 16 minutes of ice time. He’s hard to play against and could be used as a fourth-liner and penalty killer. If the Bruins’ center depth thins out, he should be right in the thick of the next-man-up conversation with Greg McKegg.
He is a delight to watch, largely because he plays like he doesn’t know he’s 5-foot-9, 188 pounds. Steen was not afraid to throw his body at Tom Wilson, which was entertaining, and he even got an extended look on the power play. All told, he played 17 minutes, with 1:09 coming on the man advantage, and if ever called upon, he could be the Karson Kuhlman-type sparkplug that brings a ton of energy.
Another guy who plays like he doesn’t know he’s 5-foot-8, 185 pounds. Ahcan took the AHL by storm this season, proving to be one of the best puck-movers in the minors, but he’s also a responsible defensive player. From a matchup standpoint, he might not be the best fit in a playoff series against a huge Capitals team, but there undoubtedly are worse options.
The St. Cloud State product on Tuesday played a whopping 22:36, including 1:09 as the power-play quarterback. Ahcan’s composure at the NHL level always has been noticeable, and that continued against Washington. No moment seems to fluster him.
If a defenseman gets hurt or Kevan Miller needs a maintenance day, Ahcan, after Jakub Zboril, should be in the running for a spot in the lineup — right there with Connor Clifton, Steven Kampfer and Jarred Tinordi.
That brings us to Tinordi, who showed off some impressive hands on the Curtis Lazar goal. He is a better matchup fit against the Capitals than pretty much anyone else, being 6-foot-6, 205 pounds and all, while having a little bit of Miller in his game. Tinordi has been a pro for a while, and if the Bruins find themselves in a jam on defense — like they were earlier this season, which led to them claiming Tinordi — he did a good job Tuesday stating his case that he could be called on.