By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
While two wins in a row against a sinking Predators team on the road in Nashville and a Winnipeg Jets team that currently has a white knuckle grip on the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference should be considered a step forward for this Bruins team that has been sleepwalking since just before Thanksgiving, it doesn’t mean that head coach Bruce Cassidy’s club has righted the ship quite yet.
“ I think the last two games you’re seeing more up and down the lineup whereas the few games before that it was a struggle [scoring] for some guys, said the B’s bench boss after the 5-4 victory at TD Garden on Thursday night.
“But it’s a long year and you hope they’ll come out of it and it looks like, at least in the short term here, we have.”
The key words being “short term”.
Frankly, rapidly entering the dog days of the hockey season and the trade deadline looming almost six weeks away, the best thing that general manager Don Sweeney can hope for is that his bottom nine forwards find the spark that has been missing offensively for much of the year.
And for as much as Cassidy would like to give kudos to his group collectively, it took yet another hat trick by the supernova that is David Pastrnak this season, and the emergence from a lengthy slumber by the streaky Jake DeBrusk (2 goals) to get past the Jets, who were playing their third game in four nights on the road.
As the Bruins head into the Barclays Center against an Islanders team that has recently gone through a similar malaise and is also winners of two straight games, Cassidy’s crew will have to continue to raise their game against a club that is 14-5-2 in perhaps the worst configured building for professional hockey in the history of the NHL.
In his 31 Thoughts: The Podcast on Sportsnet on Friday Elliotte Friedman stated that the Bruins could “do a deal at any time” for the Los Angeles Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli and even went as far as saying they have the deal “in their hip pocket”.
He also said that another rumored target of Sweeney – the New York Rangers Chris Kreider – might not be on the trade block after all at the deadline, due to the somewhat resurgence of the Blueshirts in recent weeks.
Which begs the question, why wait?
Friedman’s comments come after my partner on the Bruins Craic Podcast on BSD and Boston Hockey Now Jimmy Murphy reported several times – including this past November and December – that Sweeney’s interest in Toffoli was strong.
As Murphy wrote on Friday, it is his belief that the Kings forward “could be had for a fourth-round pick and a second or third-tier prospect”, a price that seems reasonable and will likely only increase as the deadline gets closer.
Given the asking price and the fact that the Rangers may ultimately decide to retain Kreider, it seems that it would only make sense that the Bruins GM pulls the trigger on the deal sooner, rather than later when he will likely be the one with a proverbial pistol at his temple come late February.