After taking the Flames to task last night, the Bruins are in town to take on the Oilers. Here to talk about David Pastrnak, Zdeno Chara and what’s in the pipeline is Dan from SB Nation’s Stanley Cup of Chowder.
Copper and Blue: David Pastrnak sort of blew up for you guys this year. He's got sixty points in sixty-two games (28-32-60). A first round pick for Boston in the 2014 NHL Draft, did anybody see this coming? What's his ceiling?
Stanley Cup of Chowder: Pastrnak was a bit of a cult hero for the Bruins shortly after he got drafted. Between his hilarious tour of his house for Swedish TV and him showing up to camp without any equipment (and losing his passport), people loved him. He nearly made the team out of camp as a kid, then scored a few goals as an 18 year old when he finally got a shot. I'm not sure that anyone saw this coming this quickly when he was drafted, but in his first season, you could tell he was something special. He's far and away the most exciting 1-on-1 player the Bruins have had since Tyler Seguin (let's not go there) and Phil Kessel. There's no reason he can't be a consistent 35-40 goal threat, as he's shown the willingness to put in work (bulking up this offseason) and has an amazing amount of talent.
Copper and Blue: The Bruins were mostly quiet on deadline day this season, but they acquired Drew Stafford for a sixth round pick. There's been a fair bit of talk about Stafford amongst the Edmonton media and fan base, what's your impression of him so far? Does he fill a need in the Bruins' lineup?
Stanley Cup of Chowder: Stafford has been good. Bruins fans have built him up a bit more than necessary due to a large segment of the fanbase's (kind of unfair) dislike of Jimmy Hayes and Matt Beleskey, who he pushed out of the lineup, so just his presence is seen by some as a boon. However, Stafford has scored a few goals, chipped in with assists and has generally been a good fit. He's allowed Bruce Cassidy to shuffle his lines a bit as he sees necessary. Having options is never a bad thing, especially down the stretch.
Copper and Blue Tell us about a player who's overachieved this year.
Stanley Cup of Chowder: Brandon Carlo is a guy who has probably overachieved. He's only 20 years old but has shown that he belongs in the NHL, no small task on the blueline at that age. Some will claim that playing with Chara has helped prop him up, and that's not exactly unfair. However, Carlo has shown great poise for his age, strong offensive instincts and the ability to execute some great zone exits/stretch passes. The blueline was seen as one of this team's great weaknesses entering the season, yet they've managed to stay out of the absolute cellar, and the play of Carlo (and, as a result, pushing some other players down the depth chart) has been a huge help.
Copper and Blue: Zdeno Chara will turn 40 years old on Saturday. The captain is in the second-last year of his contract, but he's still a very big piece of the Bruins defence. He leads Boston defenceman in TOI, and he's second in points (7-14-21). Obviously, no one's going to step right in and replace Zdeno Chara when the time comes for him to hang it up, but who's in the pipeline that's ready to step up and contribute on the blue?
Stanley Cup of Chowder: No one is going to replace Chara right away, but the Bruins actually have some pretty good organizational depth on defense. Carlo has shown positive signs, as mentioned above. Colin Miller, acquired in the Milan Lucic trade, has tremendous offensive upside. Charlie McAvoy is the brightest spot on the blueline, as he's looked like a man among boys at times with Boston University this season. Jakub Zboril is another guy who should make the pro jump soon, as is Jeremy Lauzon. Throw in a few bottom-6 prospects like Matt Grzelcyk and Joe Morrow, and the Bruins aren't in bad shape. They'll hope that three or four of those guys pan out, then go from there.
Copper and Blue: Finally, playoffs. I haven't used that word when talking about the Oilers because they're not there yet. Boston looks like they're doin' just fine with 80 points, good for third place in the Atlantic right now. What would a successful season look like for the Bruins?
Stanley Cup of Chowder: Most fans aren't exactly comfortable with the Bruins' positioning right now, as this team has collapsed the last few years. The good thing this year is that they'll control their own fate: they're in a decent spot now, and will play most of the teams immediately in front or behind them down the stretch. Given the coaching change and the recent disappointments, I'd consider a good first round series (even if it's a loss) an acceptable result, though not exactly a "success." Truthfully, I won't be surprised if the Bruins make it to the Eastern Conference Final, because of the favorable divisional playoff format, nor will I be surprised if they somehow miss the playoffs. The Bruins have been weird lately.
Thanks to Dan for his time. Follow Dan at Stanley Cup of Chowder, or catch him on Twitter @BruinsHockeyNow