Bruins general manager Don Sweeney had a media availability today, and you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a recording from last year...or the year before...or the year before that.
Why? Because he addressed what’s become a common theme with the Bruins for years now: there’s not enough secondary scoring.
“5v5 is just not where it needs to be to consistently win, or to extend leads if you do get them,” he said. “It’s a concern across the board...I think that injuries have played a little bit of a factor on the back end, but we’ve also...not given up that much. So yeah, I think it’s a major concern for us.”
If only there was some way we could have seen this coming!
If you wanted to argue in Sweeney’s defense, he did bring in Craig Smith to help bolster the offense, and probably didn’t expect to be without Ondrej Kase for the majority of the start of the season (again).
“Our rush chances have been pretty good,” Sweeney said. “I think the ownership is a little bit with our forward group to get to the interior ice. We haven’t tipped a lot of pucks home. We need to do a better job there.”
But this and the need for a legitimate second-pairing defenseman have been the Bruins’ biggest weakness for quite a while now.
So...did Sweeney see this coming?
“I wouldn’t have expected the three guys I mentioned earlier to be at zero even strength goals,” he said. “But that’s just where we are. We have to do a better job, without sacrificing what I think the identity of our team.”
The B’s have been a top-heavy team for the better part of five years, but this season, the divide is even more stark: Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have combined to score 32 goals, more than the rest of the forwards combined (27).
Jake DeBrusk has one goal. Anders Bjork has one goal. David Krejci has none.
Smith has been fine, Charlie Coyle has been better lately, and Nick Ritchie has been better than expected.
However, there haven’t been many occasions where the Bruins’ first line and the rest of the forwards were firing on all cylinders on the same night.
How do you change that? Sweeney mentioned starting with some reinforcements from Providence, then potentially looking elsewhere.
“[Providence has] some guys that have played well that we have to shake things up,” he said. “I think we will do that and understand that the expectations haven’t changed. Our group has played well, but not quite good enough and scoring has been the Achilles heel up until this point. Hopefully we can find it from within, or I’m going to have to make a move to bring in support.”
Given those comments, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see someone from Providence or the taxi squad called up shortly.
Speaking of Kase, it doesn’t seem like the wing is really any closer to returning.
Sweeney mentioned that Kase is skating again and is “eager” to play, but added that there’s “zero timetable” for his return.
Not encouraging news.