This week, the Boston Bruins officially punched their ticket to the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. With only a few games left in the regular season, the team has been riding a hot streak since the trade deadline. In 14 games, they have a record of 11-2-1.
At the moment, they currently sit in third place and are looking at the Washington Capitals as their first-round opponent, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad matchup for the Bruins. In their seven games so far this season, they have a 4-1-2 record and their one regulation loss came with all four of their top defenseman out with injuries.
Before we reach the start of the playoffs though, I wanted to make a few predictions for what I think/hope will happen. Over the next month, we’ll see if any of them come true or not. At the moment, I don’t have a great record with my predictions as three out of my five wishes for the 2020-21 season were wildly off. So, hopefully, I’ll be able to redeem myself this time around.
Prediction 1: David Krejci Is One of Bruins’ Top Scorers
“Playoff Krejci” has become a legend around Boston. Throughout David Krejci’s career, his best hockey has come in the postseason. On the three occasions that he has reached the Stanley Cup Final, he had 23 points in 25 games in 2011, 26 points in 22 games in 2013, and 16 points in 24 games in 2019. Even last year, in a poor showing from the Bruins all around, he had 12 points in 13 playoff games.
Playoff Krejci has already decided to make an appearance early this year. A big part of that has come due to the instant chemistry he has developed with new linemate Taylor Hall. This has created stability on his wings and the Bruins are reaping the benefits of that. In their first 10 games together, the new second line had a 68-41 scoring chance advantage and had nine goals for and only one against.
Given how well he’s been playing since the trade deadline, this isn’t exactly a surprising prediction. Krejci is going to be a force in the 2021 Playoffs and a huge part of the narrative surrounding the team. Considering he’s also going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, there is an extra incentive for him to play well. With actual linemates that he has chemistry with, the second line could be a threat again. If the Bruins figure out their power-play issues as of late, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him make a run at being the top scorer on the team this postseason. He should at least be in the top three.
Prediction 2: Tuukka Rask Is the Starting Goaltender
Jeremy Swayman has a bright future ahead of him, but Tuukka Rask has been one of the best goalies of the past decade and is still playing at an elite level even at 34 years old. In 22 games this season, he’s 14-4-2, with a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.17 and a save percentage (SV%) of .919. He’s right around his career averages in those two key stats — a 2.26 GAA and a .922 SV%. While he has missed time due to injuries this year, he has looked good and maintained good stats in the games he’s been in.
Going into the 2021 Playoffs, Rask will be and should be the starting goaltender. While Swayman has looked good, he only has nine games of experience and is only 22. The Bruins should be cautious with his development and not throw him into the viper’s nest right away. He should definitely be the backup, and if something were to happen to Rask, then he is a good option to have. However, it would be wise to go with an experienced goaltender with over 550 NHL games under his belt then someone with only nine games in an abnormal regular season.
Swayman is the goalie of the future and it will be great to get him in for a game or two for playoff experience this year. But Rask is still the goalie of the present and deserves his spot between the pipes.
Prediction 3: Jake DeBrusk Has a Good Playoffs
This is the biggest wildcard of my predictions and probably the one people will disagree with the most. I’ve also been burned by putting my trust in him before, but I’m back for another round of gambling on Jake DeBrusk.
This has been a tough season for him and the pressure has been on. In 38 games, he only has five goals and seven assists for 12 total points. He’s dealt with both injuries and COVID-19, has been shuffled around the lineup and even was a healthy scratch for three games.
Similar to the rest of the team, though, DeBrusk has looked better as of late. Since his healthy scratch at the end of April, he’s been skating well, creating opportunities on the ice, and even had his fifth goal of the season on May 6 against the New York Rangers. This season has been a very poor showing from him and even if he has a good playoffs, his reputation to be a real, threatening goal scorer in this league has taken a huge hit.
So, why do I think he will have a good playoffs? Because at this point, he has nothing to lose. The guy who scored 27 goals in his second season in the league in 2018-19 is still there somewhere. He finally looks like he has some fire under him on the ice again, and maybe that is exactly what he needs going into the playoffs. He’s only on a two-year deal, so he has motivation to try and impress not just the Bruins, but the rest of the league to set himself up for a good contract a year from now.
As anyone in Boston knows from years of watching Playoff Krejci, the postseason can also bring out an entirely different beast in players. There is a talented hockey player in DeBrusk, even if this season hasn’t shown it. The playoffs are the perfect opportunity for some part of that player to appear again.
Is he going to be the top scorer for the Bruins? No. But, if he could score a few goals and make positive contributions, that’s a step in the right direction after a disastrous 2020-21 regular season.
Prediction 4: Bruins Win at Least One Playoff Series
If asked a month ago, I wouldn’t say I had much faith in the Bruins’ ability to win a playoff series in 2021. Now, it’s a completely different story.
The Bruins are playing as good as any team in the NHL right now. They have more depth than they did for most of the regular season. There will be players ready to go in if someone isn’t playing great or an injury occurs, but hopefully they got out all their injuries in the regular season.
With how well they have been playing and clicking in the last month, the Bruins have the momentum to push them to a playoff series win. They’ve also proven in the regular season that they can play well and win against the Capitals. Would it be an easy series? No, but they have as good of a shot as anyone in the MassMutual East Division.
Given their inconsistencies this season, I don’t know if I’m ready to say that they’ll go far in the playoffs. But even in the 2020 Playoffs where they looked sluggish and couldn’t generate any 5v5 offense, they pulled out a win in the first round. They should be able to do at least that in 2021 with an arguably better team.
Predictions Will Be Revisited
There won’t be a long wait to see if these predictions are correct. The playoffs are starting later this month and we’ll know right away whether some of these come true or not. They could all come true or they could all be false. The NHL Playoffs are the most interesting in the major sports in North America because of their unpredictability. For all we know, The Boston Bruins could be crowned Stanley Cup champions later this summer.
What do you think? Am I crazy to still have hope in DeBrusk? Where do you see the Bruins finishing? Make sure to leave a comment with your thoughts and your own predictions below.