The Boston Bruins failed to get the job done in a big way on Sunday afternoon against the Chicago Blackhawks. The loss situates them at 40-31-7 and in danger of sliding out of the playoffs. Boston has lost seven of their last nine games, which included a five-game skid. As it stands now, the Bruins are 1 point behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the final wildcard spot. The Bruins have three games remaining on their schedule, while the Flyers have four games left.
The Red Wings have the same problem as the Bruins, other teams have an extra chip in their back pocket during this race to make the playoffs. The Bruins only have themselves to blame here. They’ve let everything go to waste these last two weeks, looking anything but the team who won the Stanley Cup a few years back. The make-up of their roster is certainly different than back then, with Zdeno Chara one of the only centerpieces on that team left. Tuukka Rask wasn’t in the picture at that point, it was Tim Thomas who shouldered the load in net. Remember him?
The Bruins’ defense was expected to regress this season and without fail, the Bruins have had issues in their own zone. They have been trying to rebuild the blue line with younger bodies alongside the aging Chara. The Bruins have been attempting to get by with it, but it’s been difficult for them to cover their holes. Rask, as a result, has been left out to try in net. Mind you, Rask hasn’t been playing the best hockey of his career.
The Carolina Hurricanes will look to play the party crasher role tonight and significantly damage the Bruins’ playoff chances. That is about all the fun they can have now, as they sport a record of 34-29-11. There just isn’t enough time left in the season for them to stage a rally. Find my pick below, as we edge closer to the end of the regular season, and start of the playoffs.
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Boston Bruins NHL Pick
The Hurricanes have nothing to lose and the Bruins have everything to lose during the next week. This is as close to a must win for the Bruins as you’ll find. Rask will need to be at his best, but we haven’t seen too much of his best this season. Has he been awful? No, but when you sign a 56 million dollar contract, you’re expected to be a rock. Rask has posted a 2.60 GAA for his worst year as the full-time starter in Boston. He had a 2.67 GAA with only 27 starts in 2010-11. The defense hasn’t helped him out much; however, he still hasn’t looked like a 56 million guy. In his last two games, Rask has gotten blasted for 9 goals in total. The Bruins are 19th in the league defensively. They are allowing 2.77 goals against per game.
Sort of like another member of the Original 6, the New York Rangers, the Bruins have had to play in higher scoring games than they would like. Boston is 5th in total goals per game, with 2.90 goals. But the holes on the blue line have been difficult to completely cover up with their offense. Cam Ward doesn’t have the best history against the Bruins, a 2.69 GAA. The Bruins should be able to get to Ward, but it’s hard for me to back a team with this high of a price and a battered defense. With a total of 5, however, the OVER does entice me.
PICK: OVER 5 GOALS (-120)