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BOSTON (CBS) – With the Boston Bruins in a bit of a slump, DA had Yahoo! Sports’ Greg Wyshynski (better known as “Puck Daddy”) on to figure things out.
Boston currently sits at the two-seed in the Eastern Conference, but if they don’t bust out of their funk, they could fall to the fifth or lower. Are there really that many teams better than the B’s in the East, and is it time to panic with the playoffs right around the corner?
“It might be more than four right now the way they’re playing hockey,” Wyshynski joked with DA. ”But on paper, and at the best of their abilities, I think the Bruins are still top three in the East along with the Rangers and the Penguins.”
“If they tumble out of the division lead, the worst they’ll do is the seven-seed; I don’t think they’ll drop to eight. Can they beat Ottawa in a series in which they don’t have home ice? I think so. Can they beat the winner of the South East without home ice? I think so.
“It could be panic time if they fall out of the division lead, but at the same time, I think that when they get into the playoffs, this is going to be a veteran team that will find themselves and can beat anyone.”
Usually the stopper of any slump, Tim Thomas has also struggled. In March, Thomas is 3-4 in net stopping just 86-percent of his shots. What is wrong with last season’s Vezina and Conn Smythe winner?
“He’s an old guy. He’s played a lot of hockey in his life and he’s played a lot of hockey in the last calendar year,” said Wyshynski. ”Maybe we take it for granted that this guy sometimes has a machine like stamina to his game, and it could just be that things have caught up to him.”
Is Claude Julien to blame for overworking Thomas? With Tuukka Rask out for the season, Thomas’ workload has had to increase, but Julien had a chance to let new backup Marty Turco start one of the two games this weekend. Instead, he opted to go with Thomas and let Turco start Tuesday.
There is no need to go into the results in Tampa, but is Claude at fault for the goaltending fumble?
“It’s tough to criticize the coach when you get a variable like an injury. I think we all know there was probably a plan in place on how much they wanted to play Tuukka and how much they wanted to play Timmy down the stretch. When Rask goes out with an injury, all of a sudden all bets are off,” said Wyshynski. ”You have this x-factor in Turco in there, and you don’t know what you’re going to get out of him. It’s tough for me to criticize Claude on the handling of the goaltending, right now, because the situation has been thrust upon him.”
Where do the Bruins rank in Wyshinski’s Playoff Power Rankings, and how does Sidney Crosby’s return to the Penguins change things in the Eastern Conference?