It was a successful tour in Sochi for the Boston Bruins’ players who were selected to participate in the men’s ice hockey tournament. Three of the five members of the black-and-gold that made the trip won a medal. Patrice Bergeron won gold with Canada, Loui Eriksson won silver with Sweden and Tuukka Rask won bronze with Finland. Despite struggling, both David Krejci and Zdeno Chara represented their respective countries with great pride.
With the Winter Olympic games having come to a close, the focus shifts back to the NHL. The Boston Bruins had both Chara and Krejci return to practice on Monday for the first time since departing for Sochi back on February 4th. The team is still awaiting the return of Rask, Bergeron, Eriksson and Head Coach Claude Julien.
The Bruins will square-off with divisional foe Buffalo on Wednesday. The tilt with the Sabres will mark the first game of Boston’s stretch run toward the playoffs. The Bruins hold one of the best records in the NHL. Not only are they positioned perfectly in the standings, they’re equipped with the right personnel needed to capture the Eastern Conference crown as well.
Boston currenlty leads their division by seven points over the second place Tampa Bay Lightning with a 57-37-16 record. They sit second in the conference, trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins by just five points. Additionally, Boston trails the Anaheim Ducks by nine points for the numer one overall spot in the NHL.
With Rask coming off of a bronze medal performance in Sochi, he’ll certainly return home with great confidence. That alone could spark a dominant stretch for the Bruins. Eriksson also seemed to find his game in Sochi. He skated with confidence and served as an integral two-way forward for Sweden. Boston would love to see him catch fire with the playoffs rapidly coming into sight.
Let’s not forget that the NHL trading deadline is March 5th. It’ll be interesting to pay close attention to what General Manager Peter Chiarelli decides to do. Right now, constituted as is, Boston is undoubtedly a Stanley Cup contender. Perhaps the favorite, along with Pittsburgh to come out of the east. Though a possible veteran addition along the blue-line is not out of the question.
Whatever the case may be in regards to a potential trade, the Bruins will be hungry and motivated to avenge last Spring’s Stanley Cup defeat.