The 2022 NHL postseason is right around the corner and the quest for the Stanley Cup is heating up. After a slow (ish) start to the season, the Boston Bruins have been on fire since the calendar flipped to 2022 and ramped it up even more in recent weeks, and hopefully can ride that momentum into a legitimate run at the Cup. Despite a recent loss to the Detroit Red Wings and some concerning injuries (though they all luckily seem to be pretty minor), there are still many reasons to be optimistic as we head into the playoffs.
Despite strong performances in the 2019-20 regular season and riding a strong wave of momentum into the 2021 postseason, the Bruins have fizzled out in the second round of the playoffs for the last two years. For a while there this season, it looked like this team would probably make the playoffs but be lucky to even make it out of the first round. Now, things are definitely looking up.
The Second Line
Since head coach Bruce Cassidy moved David Pastrnak to the second line to play with Taylor Hall and Erik Haula, the three have been on fire. They’ve played a big part in the team getting it together after a slow first quarter of the season or so.
The line has also been consistent. Depth on offense outside of Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron has been hit or miss over the past few seasons. Outside of David Krejci, there were no other consistent contributors. Someone may get hot for a game or two, and then they practically disappear.
All four forward lines have been clicking as of late, but the second line has been truly outstanding. The Bruins have played 42 games in 2022 so far. In that stretch, Pastrnak has had 30 goals and 20 assists for 50 points, Haula has 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points, and Hall has 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points.
All three players had their struggles at the start of the season, but since coming together, they have found their grooves and hit their strides. This consistent depth makes this a different Bruins team than what we’ve seen in recent postseasons. Forty-two games of success is not a fluke. This line is legitimate and as we get closer and closer to the playoffs, as long as they can stay healthy, they could be a real threat.
Much has been said about Jake DeBrusk, so I’ll keep this short. The player we’ve seen on the ice in the last few months is a completely different player than we saw last season or the season prior. This player is the guy that was predicted to turn into a real NHL scoring threat going into the 2015 NHL Entry Level Draft.
Related: Bruins’ DeBrusk Has Been Thriving Since Trade Deadline
It has not been easy for him in Boston in recent seasons and it is very likely that this is the end of his career in Boston given his trade request, but DeBrusk has not let any of that interfere with his game. He’s sitting at 34 points, including 21 goals, in 65 games this season and is a plus-5.
DeBrusk has found chemistry playing on the top line with Marchand and Bergeron. This is not the first time that he’s played on a line with those two, but the chemistry is finally clicking. The front office clearly thinks he can play an important role in the postseason as they did not trade him at the recent trade deadline. He could play a major role in pushing this team to another appearance in the Stanley Cup Final.
Charlie McAvoy – Hampus Lindholm Pairing
While Hampus Lindholm is currently dealing with a lower-body injury and doesn’t have a huge sample size with the Bruins yet, what we’ve seen of his pairing with Charlie McAvoy so far has certainly been exciting.
Related: Boston Bruins Spotlight: Hampus Lindholm
When they’re together, the Bruins lead opponents in shot attempts, shots on goal, and goals scored. They create plays without being completely irresponsible in their own zone, which is what we have come to expect from top defensemen in this league.
Lindholm has only played seven games in the black and gold so far, so it is very likely that we are only beginning to scratch the surface of what this pairing can do when on the ice together. Once he is healthy again, it will be exciting to see him and McAvoy continue to build chemistry and play more games together this postseason.
The blue line has had its struggles this season, but things seem to be looking up and optimism should be higher than it has been as the real battle for the Stanley Cup begins.
The one thing to not be optimistic about at the moment? Injuries. Both Pastrnak and Lindholm are sidelined for tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The good news is that neither injury seems too long term, but the last thing you want going into the playoffs is lingering health issues. The postseason is long and oftentimes, health does come into play on the road to the Stanley Cup Final.
The good news? There are still a few weeks to the postseason and while the Bruins have not yet clinched their spot in the playoffs, there isn’t too much pressure breathing down their neck. They currently sit third in the Atlantic Division with 93 points, tied with Tampa Bay, who is in the first wild card spot. The second wildcard spot in the East is currently occupied by the Washington Capitals with 86 points. The next team in the standings is the New York Islanders who have 73 points. The Bruins would need to lose all 12 of their final games and the Islanders would have to win almost all 13 of their remaining matches to miss the postseason. Strange things have happened in the NHL, but I don’t see that happening.
The Bruins can afford to be a bit more cautious with bringing these guys back, giving them more time to heal before the playoffs, and hopefully a long postseason, begins.
I’m Hannah Garfield, a graduate of Elon University with degrees in Film and Media Analytics. Currently, I’m pursuing my MFA in Screenwriting at Boston University. I’m a lifelong, passionate Boston sports fan and love all things Bruins.