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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

New expectations for the Bruins after the trade deadline

Brian+Murphy+gets+an+accidental+punch+during+a+faceoff+between+Patrice+Bergeron+of+the+Boston+Bruins+in+2011.
Brian Murphy gets an accidental punch during a faceoff between Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins in 2011. Photo and caption courtesy of SlidingSideways via Flickr

The Boston Bruins had quite an eventful trade deadline as they were one of the teams who put together a blockbuster trade to make a run at the Stanley Cup. Acquiring Hampus Lindholm really reinforces the Bruins defensive core and gives them some much needed size on the back end. But is Lindholm enough for the Bruins to make a legitimate run at a championship? Let’s assess the Bruins’ expectations going into the final month of the regular season.
First off, there is always an unpredictability factor when it comes to the NHL playoffs and it’s safe to say any team can go all the way as long as they’re in the tournament. However, some teams just look built to make a deeper run than others. The Bruins are beginning to look like one of those teams.
Now with the addition of Lindholm, four of the Bruins everyday defensemen weigh in at over 200 lbs. which is huge when you’re talking about hanging around with some of the bigger teams in the Eastern Conference. At this point, the only real area of concern for the Bruins going into the playoffs is being able to keep up on the offensive end. 
Some of these teams like the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning have relentless offensive attacks. The Bruins have two lines that can supply consistent offense, but the third line’s productivity could potentially dictate the direction the Bruins will go in the playoffs. If the Bruins can get consistent scoring out of the Charlie Coyle, Trent Frederic and Craig Smith line, then they can beat anyone in the playoffs. However, if the depth scoring is a no-show and the Bruins need to rely on their top two lines, then they could be out as soon as the first round.
Right now, the Bruins sit firmly in the first wild card spot and are only three points out of second place in the division. If you look up and down the Eastern Conference playoff teams, it would be very difficult to find a team that doesn’t have a real shot at making a title run. 
If the Bruins were to finish as a wild card team, they would likely either draw the Florida Panthers in the first round or the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes would be an absolute nightmare of a matchup for the Bruins in the first round, as they have outscored the Bruins 16–1 in three meetings this season. The Panthers are a team with less playoff experience, but the addition of Claude Giroux makes them an awfully frightening matchup as well. 
If the Bruins were to climb into a top three position in the Atlantic division, they would have to play either the two-time defending champion, Tampa Bay Lightning, or the Toronto Maple Leafs. It seems the Lightning are bound to get bounced this season and the Maple Leafs haven’t made it out of the first round in several years. The Bruins would definitely benefit from climbing a spot or two in the standings.
Realistic expectations for the Bruins going forward would be to make it to the second round of the playoffs. These are pretty disappointing expectations for a team who could lose their captain, Patrice Bergeron, after the season ends, but the fact of the matter is that they are only marginally better than they were a season ago when they only made it to the second round. Expectations can change depending on the matchups they draw in the playoffs, but right now it would be hard to see them making it past the second round.