Losing four times in the final five games doesn’t convey a great deal of enthusiasm for the Bruins’ faithful heading into the 2018 NHL Playoffs. Even more agonizing is the idea that less than a month ago Boston was a serious Stanley Cup contender.
However, even more worrisome than a series of lost hockey games is the health of the squad. After being beaten in back-to-back overtime losses to Columbus and St. Louis, Boston rattled off four victories in the next five games. The Bruins actually closed out March a point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
However, that last victory of the month took its toll on the team’s physical health. While Boston cruised past the Florida Panthers 5-1 to secure first place in the East, it came with some key losses. Top-flight defenseman Brandon Carlo was carted off the ice. It was later revealed he broke his left ankle and will be lost for the playoffs.
Adding insult to injury, the Bruins also lost center Riley Nash to an earshot. Nash sat the final week of the regular season in preparation for the playoffs. Another Nash on the Boston roster, Rick, was also listed as day-to-day because of being placed in the league concussion protocol.
Without these prime components, skaters heavily responsible for their charge up the standings, Boston generated only that single victory during the final week. The Bruins totaled only 3-points during the last five games and slipped into second place in the final standings. The downward spiral started with an overtime loss to their bitter rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.
Both of the Nash’s are expected to suit up for the first-round playoff match, but the loss of Carlo will leave a defensive void. Hockey teams deal with injuries, but Boston also relinquished valuable momentum during the final five games.
Boston is still a favorite on many prediction lists to hoist the 2018 Lord Stanley’s Cup. To reach the goal that started back during training camp, beat up players will need to heal quickly, and second line reserves will need to step up their game. If not, injuries and touch losses to close the regular season may haunt the Bruins, putting a black mark on an otherwise excellent season.