The “Providence Pipeline” was pumping overtime this season, as the Bruins went through a rash of injuries they hadn’t suffered for years.
Luckily, coaches Rob Murray and Bruce Cassidy kept the reinforcements ready with the P-Bruins farm club, and many of the call-ups made a positive contribution to Boston’s playoff push. Although there weren’t any saviors available, the Bruins were able to tab some reliable fill-ins to make up for those players that hit the sidelines with various ailments.
Journeyman Trent Whitfield proved a solid faceoff man and defenseman Adam McQuaid proved he wasn’t afraid to tangle with the big boys — gloves on or off. And Brad Marchand and Zach Hamill both got a valuable taste of the NHL game.
Had the Providence replacement players failed, the Bruins would not have been able to hang onto their playoff spot.
Season highlight: In 19 games, McQuaid got in three scraps and recorded one point — a game-winning goal Feb. 7 at Montreal. The Bruins were trying to snap their 10-game win-less streak that night at Bell Centre, and McQuaid opened the scoring with a wrist shot he fired intentionally wide from the blue line in hopes of getting a deflection. The puck went off Montreal’s Ryan White and into the back of the net. Boston went on to win 3-0.
Season low-light: In 20 games, Marchand managed just one assist but totaled 20 penalty minutes — many at the least-opportune times. The Bruins needed more out of their former third-round pick and he proved to be a little too immature and high-strung for the NHL at this point.
Final grade: B-minus
No one did anything spectacular and no one really killed the Bruins this season. Whitfield was solid in the playoffs when forced into action, and Hamill’s first NHL point was another highlight.
The crystal ball says … with the signings of Joe Colborne, Yuri Alexandrov, Steve Kampfer and Matt Bartkowski, the Bruins’ minor-league talent pool should be even better next season.