NHL Playoffs: Boston Bruins need a Win

NHL Playoffs: Boston Bruins need a Win

David Moser

As their 2015-2016 season draws to a close, the Boston Bruins will face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, April 9, in their final game of the regular season. Not only is this game an important rivalry standoff, but also this game will contribute to the fate of the Bruins’ postseason hopes. A win could push the team into the postseason bracket, but a loss might complicate things to some extreme degree.

During this season, the Bruins and Senators faced off against each other three times. These games are no indicator, for both teams took home a win. The third game resulted in an overtime loss for Boston. Also, in all three games, the Bruins had nine goals for and eight goals against. With such a close season series, who could take home the win Saturday is all up in the air. It could go either way.

For Bruins fans, for Claude Julien, and maybe even for Tuukka Rask, the Bruins need to make sure they take home a win. The Bruins failed to make the postseason last year, and with that failure there was a big shakeup in the team roster and also one big change in upper management. The Bruins fired General Manager Peter Chiarelli, and traded away most of their core roster- including players such as forwards Milan Lucic, Reilly Smith, and defenseman Dougie Hamilton. The fate of Coach Claude Julien was also in question, for the team had no word on his return until late into the offseason. In his nine years of being head coach however, Julien has only failed to make the postseason this one time. In the end, another failure to make the playoffs, for the second year in a row, could possibly put an end to Julien’s time in Boston.

Although unlikely, goaltender Tuukka Rask’s job could also be left uncertain if the team fails to extend their season. After taking up the mantle after the departure or Tim Thomas, Rask has seen the postseason three out of the past four seasons. For those past four seasons, Rask has been a prime component to the team’s success. He took home the Vezina Trophy for best NHL goaltender in 2014. Last season, Rask played in 70 of 82 games, and he had a .922 save percentage. Again, one of the best in the league, but 70 games is too many for a goaltender that is depended on every game for the team’s success. This year, Rask has seen a drop in playing time, for he has played in only 62 of 81 games. This drop is not necessarily a bad thing, but Rask has also had a drop in save percentage, .915. Anyways, the Bruins’ uncertain future is not his fault, but Rask could possibly be the fall guy.

The top eight teams in each conference make the playoffs, and Boston is currently number eight. They are technically in the playoffs, but are still tied for with the Detroit red Wings and the Philadelphia Flyers. Detroit holds seventh with 93 points, Boston hold eight with 92 points, and Philadelphia holds ninth with 92. Boston recently defeated Detroit (5-2), which positioned the Bruins in eight. The Toronto Maple Leafs also defeated the Flyers (3-2) to create a bigger gap to the benefit of the Bruins. Long story short, if the Bruins want to make the playoffs, the team needs to beat the Senators on Saturday. The win would reward Boston with two points, and depending on the result of the Flyers next game, Boston would claim a playoff berth.

A postseason run would help rectify the Bruins’ regular season disappointments, help save Claude Julien, and help Tuukka Rask prove he is still the goaltender Boston needs.

The Bruins take on the Senators or Saturday, April 9, at 12:30 PM.