The Boston Bruins have completed yet another successful season, securing their spot in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth year in a row. Nearly every season, the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup chances are among the highest. And in a year with new divisions and new teammates, there was certainly nothing given to Boston during this year. Nonetheless, Bruce Cassidy has led this team to yet another playoff appearance, and just like every other year, the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup chances continue to remain among the league’s best.
Why the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Chances Are Greater Than Ever
Taylor Hall Has Returned to Form
For years, ever since the departure of Milan Lucic, the Bruins have been struggling to find a strong left winger to pair with veteran center David Krejci. It has been without success. Despite a couple of strong seasons from LW Jake Debrusk, there were still significant lapses on that second line throughout the 2018 and 2019 playoff runs.
In step Taylor Hall, who the Bruins acquired from the Buffalo Sabers this past March. Hall has been undoubtedly one of the most prolific players in the league over the past 10 years but has seen very limited team success in his years. It was a big move from Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney, but one that ultimately pushed this team back into the playoff picture.
Hall has played just 16 games with Boston but has totaled 14 points and become one of the highest-level producers on this team in that stretch. He looks elite, he looks energetic, and most importantly he looks like Taylor Hall.
It may seem like an obvious reason, but the addition of Taylor Hall and the production he has put forth push the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup chances much higher. Hall is exactly what this team needed, and Boston’s top two lines may be the best in hockey right now.
Fourth Line Magic is Back
Yet another aspect missing from the past Boston squads was a physical and energetic bottom six. Specifically, a fourth line that could spark a struggling offense at any point in the game. Since the departure of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, and Daniel Paille, the Bruins have never reestablished that mentality.
Along with the acquisition of Hall, Sweeney certainly made it clear that there was another hole in their team that needed some help. There was little magic on that fourth-line pre-trade deadline. Now, Curtis Lazar and company have become one of the more physical and dominant fourth lines in the league.
Certainly, you need this type of play from your bottom six in the playoffs and the Boston Bruins Stanley Cup chances continue to remain high because of their play. At times, it seemed that the Bruins were exchanging physicality for scoring. It seems this year, however, they’ve found a fantastic balance in their bottom-six rollout and the impact of the Lazar acquisition should not go unnoticed.
Depth, Depth, and More Depth
Injuries will occur and players will underperform in the playoffs. It always happens. However, teams get into trouble when either they have nowhere to go following an injury or when they have inexperienced AHL’ers to back the starters up.
Boston has had a number of different lineups this season, with Nick Ritchie being the only Bruin to play every game this season. it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise, as now Boston has roughly 3 forwards (Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman, and Jack Studnicka) and two defensemen (Connor Clifton and Jared Tinordi) who have all seen pretty significant time on the ice this year. All of them will be able to slot in without hesitancy, which is key for a deep playoff run.
Whether it be an injury or poor play, it’s always important to have a select few lying in wait to slot in. We’ve seen Jake Debrusk struggle this season. We’ve seen different roles deployed against different opponents. The bottom line is that there is flexibility within this team, something I’m not sure Boston had last season or during their last Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 2019.