Bruce Cassidy lead the Boston Bruins to a 112-point season in his first full year behind the Black and Gold. The veteran presence was a strong influence on the young guys who would become a staple for this team. Tuukka Rask struggled through the month of November but eventually found his rhythm. The scoring, while top-heavy, found balance throughout parts of the season, en-route to a second round playoff appearance. It won’t be like that this time around. Repeating a 112-point season when your defense is essentially the Providence Bruins and there’s an abnormally heavy reliance on the first line is next to impossible. The Boston Bruins are not what they were last year.
The Boston Bruins are riddled with injuries. A majority of their defensive core is out on injury and slowly making their way back to the ice. Captain Zdeno Chara is expected to miss at least a month with an MCL injury. Kevan Miller is expected to return on Wednesday against the Red Wings. Charlie McAvoy was spotted at practice on Tuesday morning with a smile on his face to go with his merlot non-contact jersey. John Moore, Brandon Carlo, and Urho Vaakanainen are on the mend as well. It’s not just the defenseman taking hits, Veteran center, Patrice Bergeron could miss up to four weeks with a rib and sternoclavicular injury, The Bruins are missing assets that are going to help them win games. The points you give up now are just as important as ones you give up further down the road.
Scoring was an issue for about the first month and a half of the season. If anyone was going to score, it was going to be the first line. As of November 20, the 63-37-88 line has a combined 32 goals and the rest of the team is combined for 25. The second and third lines have somewhat stepped up with production. Cassidy mentioned on several occasions that he didn’t have any intentions of breaking up the first line. This has become inevitable due to injury. Granted, the production kicked in before the injuries but if it continues, is it worth making some adjustments outside of the first line?
Tuukka Rask is always going to be a topic of conversation. The never ending conversation of “How can the Bruins win with him in net?” hasn’t slowed down at all, if anything it has picked up. Rask allowed one goal in over an hour of hockey, and yet that’s all the Dallas Stars needed to win in overtime in his first game back from leave. It’s easy to look at the goals allowed rather than his entire game play. However, those goals might cost the team a game. This leaves the question of, how often should Halak be in net? At the end of the day, you need a consistent goalie to shut down your opponent.
We are approaching the end of the second month of the season. The Bruins are currently sitting in fifth place behind the Canadiens. There’s plenty of hockey left to play but how do the Bruins make the most of it with some of their key players out? Do the Bruins have it in them to recover from their slippery start?