You hope the Boston Bruins have purposely not got going yet, because if this is the Bruins we are going to see come the knockout rounds winning the Stanley Cup should be the furthest thing from their minds. They’ll be lucky if they don’t go out in the first round. Sure you can talk about how the round-robin doesn’t matter as there is no real home-ice advantage to play for, apart from last chance for the coach’s, but three losses and only four goals scored is not the preparation Bruce Cassidy would have wanted during this time. Even more concerning is that none of those four goals have come from your top line of David Pastrňák, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand.
On Sunday they fell 2-1 to the Washington Capitals in the final Round Robin game, which saw them finish with zero points from the three games and take the number four seed going into the knockout stages. This pits them against the Carolina Hurricanes who they swept last year, but if they fail to get that top line moving it could be a much tougher task this time around.
From the point of Corey Perry putting them 3-1 up in game one of the Round Robin against Vegas, the Dallas Stars went 146 minutes and 46 seconds without scoring yet still managed to snatch the third seed place in the Western Conference from the St Louis Blues. This was in part thanks to Joe Pavelski’s late third-period equalizer that broke the drought and then Denis Gurianov’s shootout winner that means the Dallas Stars will face the Calgary Flames in round one of the playoffs while the Blues will face off against the Vancouver Canucks.
In the last game of the day, the Toronto Maple Leafs underachieved yet again and found themselves shutout by Joonas Korpisalo as the Columbus Blue Jackets advances to the knockout stages to meet the Tampa Bay Lightning. With the Salary Cap going nowhere Toronto needs to spend whatever time they have left before tonight’s Draft lottery praying for at best the number one pick or at worse a top ten. Anything lower than tenth will see their pick go to the Carolina Hurricanes as part of the Patrick Marleau trade last summer.
If it falls and ends up going to the Hurricanes then Toronto can blame no one but themselves for the situation they find themselves in. They have just under $77 million already on the books for next year and that only gets them nine forwards, five d-men, and two goaltenders. Over $40 million of that $77 million is going to just four forwards while another $10.625 is going to O’Reilly and Muzzin on the back end.
$4 million is not enough to build a bottom four defense pairing and three depth forwards so something will simply have to give. The problem then becomes the contracts these so-called high-end players have and what it would take to sweeten the deal for a club to take them off your hands.