Making predictions is fun, especially in sports. It’s an exciting way to get hyped for an upcoming event or series, and at the end of the day, it’s fun if they come true but not the end of the world if they don’t.
Now that we’ve had some more time to let the dust settle, it’s a good time to look back at the 2022 Playoff Predictions I made back in April. Looking at them now, a round removed from the Bruins’ first round exit to the Carolina Hurricanes, I wasn’t super far off for two of my predictions, while the third one definitely proved to not be the case in 2022.
Prediction One: Brad Marchand Returns to Form
Once again, the Bruins found themselves completely relying on Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron to generate most of the offense. Outside of the three of them, the only other forwards who really impressed in their series against the Carolina Hurricanes were Jake DeBrusk and Charlie Coyle.
Despite going into the playoffs in a bit of a slump, Marchand was right back in form in Round 1, proving that he is a guy that rises to the occasion. He led the team in scoring with 11 points in seven games, including four goals, the most of any player on the team. He was also a plus-three, tied with who else but Bergeron for the highest plus/minus on the roster in the series.
What makes his performance even more impressive is that he was playing injured, as the Bruins announced last week that he underwent successful hip surgery. I feel like a broken record player here, but Marchand is the heart of the Bruins. Whenever he decides to retire, there will be a huge hole on this roster that will not be easily filled.
With that said, Marchand’s game wasn’t perfect in the postseason. He had the third highest penalty minutes of any player on the roster and took several undisciplined penalties that cost the team. He’s a fantastic player, an elite NHL talent, but oftentimes, he gets overshadowed by his on-ice antics. It’s one of the reasons he continues to be voted by other NHL players as the guy they hate to face off against but would love to have as a teammate.
Overall, I would say that this prediction was correct. While his game wasn’t flawless in the postseason (but who is flawless this postseason besides Connor McDavid?), he definitely returned to form. He looked much more like who the Bruins, and their fans have come to expect than the guy on the ice at the end of the regular season.
Prediction Two: Taylor Hall Has a Major Impact
If my last prediction was definitely right and my next prediction is definitely wrong, then this prediction was sort of half right and half wrong. Taylor Hall did have a pretty big impact on the series, but it was more of his lack of on-ice production that impacted the series.
As previously stated, not many of the forwards stood out besides Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak. There were multiple guys that needed to step up if the Bruins had any hope of defeating the Hurricanes, and none of them really did. But as a former first overall selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Level Draft and a 2018 Hart Trophy winner, Hall carries a bit of extra scrutiny, particularly because the hockey world has seen how much of an impact he can have on a team. He almost single-handedly dragged the New Jersey Devils into the 2018 postseason.
The Bruins needed some version of that Hall, but they didn’t really get it. He had only four points in seven games, including two goals, and was a minus-six. It was one of many disappointing performances, but knowing what he’s capable of and the impact he could have had on the series for the good, not the bad, it hurts a little bit more.
Hall has just finished the first year of a four-year contract. He’s had great moments on the Bruins and should continue to be part of their immediate future, hopefully with more significant showings during the postseason and more opportunities to shine.
Prediction Three: First Round Features at Least Two Overtime Games
As mentioned above, this is the most wrong prediction I made going into the 2022 playoffs. The Bruins did not have a single game go into overtime during their series against the Carolina Hurricanes. In fact, most games were pretty lopsided in scoring. Neither team was super consistent throughout the series, with one team showing up one game and the other team showing up in the next game.
This wasn’t just a Bruins trend, but a trend throughout the entire NHL. In the first round of the 2021 NHL PLayoffs, there were 16 games that went into overtime, including three double overtime games and one triple overtime game. This year, there were only eight overtime games in the first round, and of those eight, there was only one that went to triple overtime.
Of course, there were still plenty of entertaining games, and the first-round matchups were great. But in general, these games weren’t going to overtime, and a lot more series saw more lopsided and higher scoring games. An argument could be made for a less talented collection of goaltenders this year versus last year’s postseason, but that definitely doesn’t tell the whole story for the drastic drop-off.
If we’re keeping score, I’d give myself a one and a half out of three on my prediction scorecard. While Marchand definitely showed up in the first round for the Bruins, Hall’s struggles had an impact versus his actual play, and the Bruins didn’t have a single game go to overtime. My 2021 predictions were much more accurate, so we’ll have to see how the next one goes.
Related: Bruins’ 2022 Offseason Wish List
The Bruins’ postseason is behind us, and now, the focus turns to the upcoming draft and free agency. Hopefully my recent wishlist for the 2022 offseason is much more accurate than my 2022 playoff predictions.