Premature End for B’s Raises Offseason Questions

The Boston Bruins got ousted from the Stanley Cup playoffs on Wednesday night at the hands of the Washington Capitals. They fell in the deciding game seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals by a final score of 2-1.

This was the first playoff series in NHL history where every game was decided by one goal.

“Both teams could have easily won this series,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “A few calls and a few lucky bounces is all it took. It is what it is.”

This premature exit from the postseason was not what most people expected. Even though the Bruins had struggles in January and February, they went 12-8-1 in the final two months of the regular season. They clinched the Northeast Division and the number two seed in the East. The stage was set for the Black and Gold to make another deep run.

Up until the final two games of the regular season, it seemed as if the Bruins would be facing the Ottawa Senators in the first round. This was a team that they went 5-1-0 against during the season as they scored 22 total goals in that six-game span. Boston was hoping for the chips to fall in place for that to take place.

After playing the full 82-game schedule, the B’s found out their opening round opponent would be the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals, led out of the tunnel every night by rookie goaltender Braden Holtby, proved to be a match-up nightmare. They played tight in the defensive end and lived by the fast break. That was all the Capitals needed to beat the Bruins. They matched them hit for hit and goal for goal in this entertaining series.

Now that the season has concluded, there are several questions concerning the Bruins heading into the offseason.

What will the Bruins do with Tim Thomas?

“It is a very difficult thing to repeat. That is why no one has done it in a long time,” said Thomas. “It was a tough season and you have to give the Capitals credit.”

It certainly was a season that consisted of peaks and valleys for the two-time Vezina Trophy winner. His more recent struggles have come during this postseason.

He allowed 16 goals and recorded a .923 save percentage with a 2.14 goals against average. He still has one year left on his contract, but the Bruins might want to consider trading him while he still has some value. It is time for Tuukka Rask to take over.

Who will be the B’s sixth defenseman?

Mike Mottau, Joe Corvo, and Greg Zanon will most likely not be back in a Bruins’ sweater come next season. With five of their six top defensemen signed through the 2012-13 season, the Bruins have an established core running the blue line.

The one remaining spot should go to Dougie Hamilton, the organization’s most valuable prospect. He was selected 9th overall by Boston in last year’s NHL entry draft. This season, Hamilton posted 17 goals and 55 assists for his junior team, the Niagara IceDogs. Labeled as an all-around defenseman, he could very well earn a spot on the roster nest season.

When will the Bruins re-sign some of their veterans?

Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, and Gregory Campbell are still without a home for next season. The Bruins should have the leverage to bring all three of these players back. However, with Kelly having a career year and Paille and Campbell being so valuable on the penalty kill, it could cost a little bit of money to do so.

 

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