Why the Boston Bruins Are Primed for an Upswing in the Second Half of 2009-10
Anybody that follows hockey knows the Canadiens and Bruins are sworn enemies. As two of the "Original Six" teams, they have a long history of hatred for each other and have no problem showing it. Virtually every game consists of at least one fight and is very chippy from start to finish.
The Maple Leafs and the Bruins made a trade before the start of this season with the Bruins sending Phil Kessel to Toronto for a first-round and a second-round pick in the 2010 draft and a first-rounder in the 2011 draft.
Boston and Kessel did not end their time together on the best of terms, and some players remaining on the Bruins feel Kessel didn't believe the team was good enough, so there is a little chip on some of their shoulders. Not to mention the Bruins can help their future by beating Toronto; the more losses the Leafs have, the higher the draft picks will be in the draft.
Prior to the Olympics, the Bruins had some troubled times. Over their last 10 games, the Bruins went 4-6-4, earning 12 points out of a possible 24 and slipping down to seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
However, the Bruins' remaining schedule looks to be very favorable, and, with a little rest and a trade or two, the team's playoff chances look to be back in their hands.
With 22 games remaining on the regular season schedule, the Bruins play 12 against teams behind them in the schedule, including two against Carolina and three against Toronto, the worst two teams in the Conference.
The Bruins play 10 of their last games on home ice at the TD Garden, but they have won 14 of 29 on the road and only 13 of 31 at home, so that may not be as troublesome as it may first appear. The one problem that does arise from this is that the Bruins have two games at league-leading Washington, against whom the Bruins are 0-2 this year.
As far as trades, GM Peter Chiarelli likes the core, so he will not do much to rip it apart. He does have plenty of draft picks due to previous trades, and, coupled with some of the young talent the Bruins have plenty of in the minors, Bruins fans could see a top-six forward on his way in before the March 3 trade deadline. Names like Peter Mueller of Phoenix and Ray Whitney of Carolina have been thrown around in rumors.
Don't be expecting a huge deal or something that could put the Bruins on the same caliber as Washington or Pittsburgh, but look for a good playoff push.
Granted, the Bruins were chosen by some to be in the Stanley Cup Finals, but not all is lost yet. They are only 12 points behind New Jersey, which sits in second place in the East, and with 44 points up for grabs in the last 22 games, the Bruins can definitely make a strong push for a decent seed for the playoffs.
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