If the NHL season ended today, the Boston Bruins would face the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the NHL Playoffs. Granted, there are still fourteen games to play and the Bruins still need to focus in simply getting in the playoffs rather than who they’ll be matched up against. As Bruins fans know after watching the team over the past two years, the playoff race down the stretch has been a very weak spot for this team. But hey, this is fun to talk about and the realities that this is a very possible scenario. And, what a story it would be. Claude Julien vs. Bruce Cassidy. Julien vs. Cam Neely and Don Sweeney. And on top of it all, one of the greatest rivalries in sports in the Bruins vs. Canadiens.
Let’s take a look at where both teams are in the playoff standings. The Canadiens are currently second in the Atlantic Division with 84 points. Technically, they’re tied with the Senators, but Ottawa has a game at hand. The Senators are playing great hockey right now and seem poised to win this division. The Canadiens have also played well since Julien has taken over, but they have won a lot of overtime games and haven’t been dominating like Ottawa has. The Bruins are 10-3 under Cassidy. There were many opinions, including the one on this blog, that stated that canning Claude Julien wasn’t the right move. So far, we have been proven wrong.
The Bruins made the change and they have completely turned their season around. They’re playing with more energy. They have a more offensive mentality. Their young players no longer have handcuffs on. It’s a different team. The Bruins now have 78 points which puts them third in the Atlantic. They have a two-point lead over the Maple Leafs with one game at hand. In the wild card race, the Bruins have a three-point lead over the Islanders with a game at hand. At this point, every game is crucial for the Bruins.
The Bruins are about to go on a four game road trip which ends in Toronto in March 20th. That’s shaping up to be a huge game. After that, the Bruins then play eight of their final team games at home. Their playoff fate will be determined at TD Garden just as it was last season. This includes two games against the Senators at home.
One month from now, we may be talking up a story line of Claude Julien facing off against the Bruins in the playoffs. He knows the strengths and weaknesses of just about every player on their team. The Bruins know the Claude Julien style of hockey. There are also players like Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano who would like to prove Julien wrong in a playoff series. It’s a Boston sports fan’s dream!
Also, imagine the impact that series would have on Don Sweeney and Cam Neely. If Montreal were to dominate the Bruins under Claude, what does that mean for the future of the front office? Would they be able to wipe the egg off of their faces or would they be shown the door? And if the Bruins win, they may very well buy themselves additional years of job security. We know that it doesn’t take a lot to earn that under this ownership.
Oh, what a story. It’s going to be up to the Bruins to make it happen.