While speculation runs wild on the status of a 2012-13 NHL season, one of the more interesting developments in Boston comes down to the Bruins’ openings on the forwards’ depth chart.
With all of the lines intact as they were last year and the assumed return of right-winger Nathan Horton, a vacancy opens up on the Bruins’ third line. The departures of Benoit Pouliot, who was traded to Tampa Bay in the offseason where he signed a one-year, $1.8 million deal, and Brian Rolston, who remains an unsigned free agent, open a spot on the left-side of Chris Kelly and opposite of right winger Rich Peverley on the team’s third line. While the expectation is that Jordan Caron reclaims the gig once again, the deep group of forwards with Boston’s AHL-affiliate Providence Bruins present some interesting options
It might be safe to say that out of the six Eastern Conference teams still in the hunt for the playoffs, the Boston Bruins have the most difficult schedule of remaining regular season games. The Bruins will first host the 9th seed Washington Capitals, just two points out of playoff contention before heading to New York for back-to-back games against the all-but-eliminated Islanders and a Rangers team which they’re winless against this season. After that, the Bruins will come back home to play the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins, travel to Ottawa to face the team closest to catching them for the Northeast Division lead and close out the season back in Boston against the Buffalo Sabres who are 7-1-2 in their last ten games.
A bit daunting when you think about how inconsistent the Bruins have been at times during the season, eh?
The good news is that the Bruins could potentially clinch a playoff spot in their next game with a win or overtime loss against Washington on Thursday. The bad news is that the division, along with their potential first round opponent, is far from being decided. Pair that with some tough decisions that Boston coach Claude Julien will face regarding starting goaltending and resting key players and you have to think: this will not be an easy two weeks for the Boston Bruins.