BOSTON (CBS) – Seven games to go in the regular season. Nine point conference lead. Three point advantage over St. Louis for best overall record and home ice.
As the season comes to a close it’ll be important for the Bruins to start gearing up for the playoffs by figuring out their line combinations and defensive pairings — the latter of the two being more unsettled than the former.
Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Dougie Hamilton, Kevan Miller are all thought to be locks on the Bruins’ blue line come postseason. Torey Krug is a safe bet as well given his ability to contribute on the power play.
That leaves two men (Andrej Meszaros and Matt Bartkowski) vying for one spot, according to the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa.
“The Bruins haven’t determined whether Meszaros will be one of the six defensemen to start the playoffs. It’s likely that Meszaros’s primary competition is Matt Bartkowski on the second pairing,” Shinzawa wrote in his most recent post.
So who is the odd man out?
“Andrej Meszaros has extensive playoff experience,” Wallach said to lead off the discussion.
“I understand that, but Matt Bartkowski has played in the playoffs before and he’s a much better puck mover. Can you imagine if Meszaros starts the playoffs and not Bartkowski? It would be almost entirely based on being a veteran and nothing else,” said Fred.
“Meszaros hasn’t separated from Bartkowski. He hasn’t been clearly better, but maybe you go with experience to begin the playoffs. Just compare them and say the two are even, wouldn’t the tiebreaker be experience?” asked Wallach.
“Yes, but I don’t think they’re even. I think Bartkowski brings something to the table that Meszaros doesn’t. Bartkowski pushes the play. He’s a puck moving defenseman. You need that in the playoffs,” said Fred.
It’ll be a weird juggling act these next two weeks as the Bruins coaching staff tries to balance injuries versus rest, while at the same time figuring out their postseason roster.
One thing that could throw a wrench into planning their top six defensive pairings is the return of Adam McQuaid, who’s battled a number of injuries all season long. His status for a potential return, in addition to Dennis Seidenberg’s, is uncertain at this time.
So who’s the odd man out? Meszaros? Bartkowski? Someone else?
Listen below for the full discussion and be sure to vote in our poll: