After today’s 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings, the Bruins moved into a tie with the Ottawa Senators for second in the Atlantic Division with 37 points. At 17-13-3, the Bruins have been a mediocre team overall this year record-wise. Their overall roster is very good at the top and very weak at the middle and bottom. You would think a team that has Brad Marchard, David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and David Backes would be a very strong overall team. There’s a huge drop off from there. The third and fourth lines give virtually no production and the talent on defense is well below average. The reality is that it’s probably going to be another situation like the past two years where they’re fighting for their playoff lives in the last week of the season.
With all of that said, the Bruins are a very interesting team when it comes to their playoff opportunity. Their record doesn’t do them any justice in terms of how good of a playoff team they can be. They’re automatically a better playoff team than they are a regular season team.
Take a look at the Bruins record with Tuukka Rask and without him.
With Rask: 16 wins, 5 losses, 3 overtime losses.
Without Rask: 1 win, 8 losses.
There isn’t a team in hockey that has a wider gap of winning when their starting goaltender is out. Take a look at Montreal for example. Carey Price is 17-4-2. When he doesn’t play, the success rate certainly goes down, but they are 3-3-2 without Price. That’s the case for most NHL playoff caliber teams with an elite goaltender. The starting goalie carries the team and when the backup plays, they can win roughly half of the games. For the Bruins, that is clearly not the case. When Rask is out, they lose. It’s as simple as that. We’re almost halfway through the season and the team only has one win without Rask. One.
With Rask, the Bruins can compete in Eastern Conference. They have proved that throughout the season and it was clearly evident this past week. They played the two best teams in the Eastern Conference on the road and played very well. The beat the Canadiens on overtime and then lost a tough game in OT against the Penguins two nights later. Three points out of four on the road against the top two teams in the East…because they had Tuukka Rask in net. The Bruins made a statement that they can compete with anyone with Rask. When teams get to the playoffs, it’s time to throw the records and the seeding out the window because none of it matters.
With Rask, are the Bruins the best team in the East? No. There are better teams. Are the capable of going on a playoff run if Rask plays the way he has through the first half of the season? Absolutely. They can play with Montreal. They can play with Pittsburgh. And guess what? The backup goaltender (whoever that may be) isn’t going to be playing in the playoffs. If he does, then it’s over.
If the Bruins get to the playoffs, they go from a mediocre team to one that can beat anyone. It could be a fun spring. Just get there, B’s!