Bruins Clinch Playoff Berth on Final Day


In what was an up-and-down, inconsistent season for the Boston Bruins, they finished the year on a bit of a high and landed in the final wildcard playoff spot in the East with a record of 38-30-14.

Over the Bruins' last 20 games - since the big Victor Hedman / Evgeni Malkin trade - they went 11-7-2, including a 10-3-1 run that put them in good position to seal the final spot. However, they made things interesting on themselves by losing five in a row, including a 3-2 regulation loss to a charging Columbus squad in their third-last game of the season that looked like it may have put them out of their misery.

With one last chance on the final day of the season, Boston beat Tampa Bay 4-2 which, combined with Columbus losing 5-2 to Ottawa and the NY Islanders beating Washington 4-2, created a three-way tie for the final playoff spot. After the tiebreakers, the Bruins were left with the final wildcard spot, and they will face Ottawa in the playoffs.

Malkin, the headline piece in the biggest of several trade deadline week trades made by the Bruins, certainly made his presence felt during the playoff push. He scored 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points in 19 games after the trade. Combined with Jack Eichel, who finished the season with 52 goals and 114 points, the Bruins have a devastating 1-2 punch down the middle that is unquestionably their biggest strength.

Anthony Mantha (5 goals, 14 points in 19 games) was another deadline-week pickup that made an impact in Boston, and defensive forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (1 goal, 10 points in 19 games) and Paul Byron (5 goals, 10 points in 18 games) combined to form a terrific shutdown line with Colton Sissons and also performed well on the penalty kill. Even depth defense acquisition Zach Bogosian had a larger-than-expected offensive impact, with 8 points in 18 games down the stretch. After trading Hedman, the Bruins relied heavily on Jakob Chychrun and Samuel Girard, their new top pairing, and they both rose to the occasion.

The Bruins will have their hands full in the first round, though, with a meeting with the Ottawa Senators. Ottawa finished second in the EHE with a 55-20-7 record. The Senators have an extremely deep roster, both offensively and defensively, and even most of their forwards are very well-rounded. Anthony Cirelli led the team with 87 points while also being one of the top defensive forwards in the league, and former Bruin Ryan O'Reilly is a similarly elite defensive centre who contributed 69 points in the regular season, 47 in 50 games with Ottawa after being acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay.

While the Bruins are a good young team with a bright future, new GM Trevor Cook is happy to have made the post-season in his first season at the helm, and hopes his squad can at least make things interesting against a potential Cup favourite in Ottawa.