By: Justin Homes
The Boston Bruins have punched their ticket to the 2021 NHL playoffs. It’s been a whirlwind of a season, with a hot start and then a slew of injuries leading to a tough stretch. But, a big part of why they are heading to the postseason is winning 10 of their last 12 games, since making two big trade deadline acquisitions.
First, it was the big one… at about 12:30 in the morning, I got a notification that the Bruins had traded for Curtis Lazar. But, then Darren Dreger said that it was a part of a bigger deal.
Next thing you know the Bruins had traded Anders Bjork and a second-round pick for Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar.
There was doubt out of the gates that Hall could not be part of a winning culture and that he had “only scored 2 goals this season”. From that point on I don’t think anyone who watches the Bruins had any doubt in the 2018 Hart trophy winner. His offensive production has been unbelievable on a line with Craig Smith and David Krejci which has blossomed in the past weeks. Hall has scored 6 goals and 5 assists since joining the Bruins while being a +11. The surprising part has been Hall’s defensive presence with huge back checks on many occasions and his very polished transition game. Hall has also been top 5 in expected goals since joining the Bruins.
Curtis Lazar has also fit right into the mix jumping between the 3rd and 4th line, providing a physical yet polished game to bring energy to the Bs. Lazar has a goal and 2 assists since getting to the Bruins. He’s turned the fourth line right around, making them once again one of the best in the league with Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. This line has shown a glimpse of the 2011 “The Merlot Line” for the Bruins of Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, and Shawn Thronton that helped the Bruins win Lord Stanley.
The Bruins also did a very under-the-radar deal that has proven to be just as effective as the latter. They Traded a 3rd round pick to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Mike Rielly. #6 slotted right into a top role on the Bruins by getting time on the top pair while quarterbacking the powerplay. A banged-up Bruins blue line needed the boost and depth that Rielly has provided. Rielly has been producing at a high rate as well having 7 assists in just 12 games with the team. The best part of Reilly’s game is his ability to get his shot to the net much like Matt Grzelcyk, which creates so many scoring chances.
In the past Bruins GM, Don Sweeney hasn’t been known to go out and make a big deal, such as last season where he added Nick Ritchie for Danton Heinen. A move that at the time didn’t seem like much but has panned out into a very good trade with Ritchie tying his career-high in goals with 14 this season. In 2019 Sweeney acquired Charlie Coyle in exchange for Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick, another deal that has worked out very well for the Bruins as Coyle fits right into Boston’s system. This year adding a former Hart winner like Hall may be his biggest splash under the Black and Yellow.
This is the 5th season that the Bruins will see the playoffs under Bruce Cassidy, and with the depth and potential of this lineup… they could have a real shot at Lord Stanley.
No matter what happens in the postseason it will be interesting what the Bruins do with Hall and many other unrestricted free agents in the offseason. From what we’ve heard Hall wants to be in a Spiked B long-term and Don Sweeney and the Bruins may just have the cap space to do so.