BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins are back to their winning ways following Thursday night’s 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, and have all but wrapped up the regular season.
Boston has won 13 of their last 14 games and with just 10 games remaining can set their sights on the playoffs, where they’ll once again be a favorite to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup when it’s all said and done.
But before we look at that big prize, how about a few individual awards for the Bruins? 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Bruins play-by-play man Dave Goucher joined Toucher & Rich on Friday morning, and broke down which B’s could bring home some hardware this season.
First up is Patrice Bergeron, who is always in the running for the Selke Award, given to the NHL’s best defensive forward. Bergeron won the award back in 2011-12 but was edged out by Chicago’s Jonathan Toews last season.
“I think (Bergeron’s) chances are great,” said Goucher. “He’s plus-38, which leads the league, and now he’s starting to score more. He has goals in five straight games and offensively he’s starting to finish more. I thought he could have won it last year; between him and Toews you can really flip a coin.”
“I’ve thought he’s been the best two-way forward for awhile now,” added Goucher. “I think he’s the favorite, but I think you can say that most years.”
Tuukka Rask is standing on his head in net for Boston, and recorded his league-leading seventh shutout on Thursday night. He had a stellar season last year but wasn’t even a finalist for the Vezina, but Goucher is pretty confident Tuukka will bring the award home this year.
“I don’t know how he doesn’t win it,” said Goucher. “It’s more than the shutouts; he’s Top 5 in goals-against average (2.01), save-percentage (93 percent) and wins (33). I guess we’re a little biased because we see him on a regular basis, but just how good he’s been (over the entire season)…. I don’t see how he doesn’t win it.”
And then there is Claude Julien, who is in the discussion for the Jack Adams Awards. Claude won the award back in 2009-09, his second season on the Bruins’ bench, and has a very good chance at winning it again.
“I think he’s right in there,” said Goucher. “[Bob Beers] has Patrick Roy winning coach of the year, which I can see. It usually goes to – you look at where a team was the year before, and if they were way down there and now they’re up here. (Colorado) is third in the Western Conference.
“All that being said, the job that Claude has done, when you look at the team and how they retooled it to a degree; if you look at the roster in the last game in the cup finals and what they had last night against the Blackhawks, there are some significant pieces missing,” added Goucher. “But Claude has done a great job this year.”
Julien has some decisions to make over the next few weeks in regards to resting his players for the postseason. The coach cautioned Thursday morning that he doesn’t want to begin that process too early, but Goucher thinks we could see players getting a night off very soon.
“The playoffs are still three weeks away so you don’t want to get into it too quick. But maybe they start this weekend,” said Goucher. “There’s a two-game trip to Washington and Philadelphia, another one next week to Detroit and Toronto, and another the week after that to Minnesota and Winnepeg. Maybe you start doing it right now.”
“To me, the biggest thing is the change between them and Pittsburgh this month,” said Goucher. “On March 1, Boston was five points behind Pittsburgh, and now they’re nine points up. That’s a 14-point swing in three weeks, so they’re running away with the East. I think that’s kind of done, so I think they start (resting players) sooner rather than later.”