FanPost

Questions The Bruins Must Answer Early in 2019-20

Well, after a long and painful summer for Bruins fans, we are finally just a few days from seeing our boys in Black and Gold take the ice for meaningful hockey games! Expectations are understandably high this season, yet it wouldn’t be too surprising to see a bit of a Cup hangover given the short offseason after falling in the finals. But if the big guns do struggle, I believe that the pieces are there for the Bruins to have early success anyways if certain things go right. Here are the questions I want to see answered early on in this regular season;

Will Coyle and Heinen continue their 3rd line dominance?
There is no doubt that the trio of Danton Heinen and trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson gave the Bruins the deadly 4-line attack they have always coveted, and was a big reason why the team made it as far as they did last postseason. While most credited those 2 for the play of the 3rd line, I believe that it was Heinen who was the real key to the success of that trio. His responsible defensive game and subtle neutral zone playmaking allowed his line mates the freedom to take chances in the offensive zone, knowing that Heinen constantly had their backs. I expect Heinen to take advantage of the opportunity to add more offense to his solid defensive game this season with Johansson now playing in Buffalo, and with Charlie Coyle earning rave reviews as one of the top players in this year’s training camp, this year’s 3rd line should continue right where it left off in the postseason no matter who plays with them.

Is David Backes’ offseason transformation for real?
Much has already been made about David Backes training with a figure skating coach and his seemingly improved physical conditioning, but we will have to wait and see if it translates into production on the ice when the games start to mean something. It’s safe to expect him to start the season at 3RW with Coyle and Heinen, who I have already stated should be able to produce regardless of who plays with them, but if Backes is for real, he and Charlie Coyle could combine to give Boston a line with a physical edge they haven’t had since the days of Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton skating together. Or, if needed, he could even slide up to 2RW and give David Krejci that physical presence he has been missing since he had an un-washed-up Milan Lucic riding his left wing every night. Which brings me to my next question:


Is Karson Kuhlman the answer at 2rw?
I’ll start by saying that I love Karson Kuhlman. I really hope that he takes advantage of this opportunity because his straight ahead speed and physicality can really open things up for Krejci to make plays. But I am skeptical. He is undoubtedly a solid player, but so far he has looked more like a 4th liner than a top 6 guy. Pretty much everyone has known and harped on for the last couple of seasons that what the Bruins have isn’t working in this position in the lineup, but management has been unable to find a solution from outside. If it doesn’t work for Kuhlman, I would look for Backes to get the next look, and then Anders Bjork, Peter Cehlarik, Zach Senyshyn, and Ryan Fitzgerald could all be candidates to fill in at various points in the season. Otherwise the Bruins will likely need to make a trade to improve this spot.

Can Jake Debrusk elevate his game to the next level??
A big piece of the puzzle for the Bruins could be the man who has been riding on David Krejci’s left wing for the last 2 seasons. With a 27 goal season under his belt already, the 3rd year winger has shown that he can be a productive NHL player, but most of that production has come in the transition game due to his speed and ability to score in close to the net, and as a net-front presence on the power play, where he tallied 8 of those 27 goals. The Bruins need Jake DeBrusk to vastly improve once the puck makes it past the opponent’s goal line. His biggest struggle seems to be in retrieving pucks that are sent in deep, especially when dealing with more physically imposing defensemen on other teams. This was especially noticeable against the Blues in the finals, which, to be fair, happened to most of the Bruins forwards. To put it simply, I will be watching closely to see if DeBrusk is able to dig pucks out of the corner, and get them onto David Krejci’s stick in the offensive zone. If he can improve in this way-more-difficult-than-it-sounds area, and the team can even find a serviceable linemate to play right wing, there is zero doubt that the Bruins 2nd line will be playing at a very high level for most of this season. Jake DeBrusk has all of the potential in the world, and his growth will be a huge part of whether the Bruins are able to replicate and exceed their performance of last season.


I, for one, cannot wait for the puck to drop next Thursday night in Dallas. Here’s to putting the brutal end to last year behind us for good!

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