At long last, the day has come! Hockey is Back! So with the greatest sport on earth finally back, let’s talk about what to expect with this upcoming season as pertains to the Bruins.
This years Bruins team may look very different from Bruins teams of years past. The youth the Bruins have been awaiting to develop appears to have finally developed. This is a great thing to hear if you are a fan, after enduring a highly mediocre team the past few years. The infusion of young talent offers a light on the horizon for hopeful Bruins fans hoping to once again hoist Lord Stanley in Boston.
Training camp is winding down, with one preseason game left, and many cuts have been made. Of the remaining players left, this is what a revamped Bruins team would most likely look like in my opinion
Line 1: Marchand, Bergeron, Bjork
Line 2: Backes, Krejci, Pastrnak
Line 3: Vatrano, Nash, JFK
Line 4: Beleskey, Debrusk, Acciari
Healthy Scratches: Spooner, Schaller
Sent to Providence: Agostono, Cehlarik, Heinen, Kuraly, Czarnik
On the first line we have the familiar Marchand and Bergeron. Bjork is obviously a new face on the first line and for good reason. Bjork may be one of the most promising forward talents the Bruins have had since Tyler Seguin. He has proven himself worthy of an NHL spot, and will probably find himself as a top 6 forward as the year goes on. The reason I see him with Marchand and Bergeron is the same reason Carlo was paired with Chara last year. Chara very clearly elevated Carlo’s game. This became apparent last year when Chara went down with an injury and Carlo looked as though he were a lost puppy for a few games. Bergeron and Marchand could not only elevate Bjork’s game, but also be good role models on how to be successful at the NHL level.
The second line is a line that worked together last year and had some success, when they actually had a chance to play together. Injuries prevented this line from fully developing chemistry and working as well as the Bergeron-Marchand line. Hopefully these guys can stay healthy and can be a solid and productive second line.
The third line has 3 young players that all clearly have talent but need to step up to prove they can take it to the next level. Frank Vatrano, who is in the final year of his deal, will need to step up this year if he wants to get paid. So far, he has shown incredible talent and a rocket of a shot, but as of yet he has been unable to piece it all together and become a top 6 forward. Look for Vatrano to have a big season in a contract year. Nash still has a lot to prove, and could very well find himself on the 4th line quickly, but I believe he will start the season on the third line. JFK is another incredible and promising talent from the AHL. His potential is matched only by Anders Bjork. We saw very little of JFK in the playoffs last season when a myriad of injuries crippled the Bruins. He could be very promising, however, if he has a slow start I would not be surprised if he was sent back down to Providence to develop. If he is sent down it will likely be in the first 10 games.
I’m sure it kills the Bruins to have a $3.8 million dollar 4th liner, but that is the reality of the situation. Matt Beleskey has gotten fat and happy on his overpaid contract and underperformed immensely last year. This year he reported to camp down about 20 pounds. This could potentially be another player that has a big year, knowing it’s a contract year. Sweeney would be an idiot to give him $3.8 million again, but if Beleskey wants anything decent he better put up 15-20 goals this year.
I would expect the 4th line and the healthy scratches to rotate. If a guy has a bad game, I would not be surprised to find him scratched and substitute in somebody else. These bottom 3 roster spots will likely be fluid and changing. The good news may be that there are several AHL’ers that seem to be ready to make the jump to the NHL, but there just aren’t enough roster spots. If injurys hit the Bruins, we will see how deep this team truly is. However, at the forward position, there seems to be a good amount of depth as of today.
Line 1: Chara, Carlo
Line 2: McQuaid, McAvoy
Line 3: Grzelyck, Miller
Healthy Scratch: Postma
Sent to Providence: O’Gara, Johansson
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, that’s the idea behind line 1. These two played great together last year and seemed to cancel out each other’s shortcomings. It would be a travesty for them to not play together again this year.
Line 2 consists of McQuaid and McAvoy. I believe the Bruins original goal would have been to have McAvoy with Krug, as their games compliment each other’s. However, with Krug’s injury taking him out, this is no longer possible. Grzelyck is a very similar player to Krug, their games are similar, and their size and speed are the same. Grzelyck is essentially a poor mans Krug, he will be fine filling in for now though, and he is ready to make the jump to the NHL.
So if Krug and Grzelyck are so similar, and I just said that the Bruins would have like to have Krug with McAvoy, why wouldn’t these two make up the second line? The simple answer for that question is that McQuaid and Miller together is a gift to any opposing team. These two do not mesh together. They are both slow, stay at home defenseman, and could be easily exposed together. These two need to be separated in order to prevent having a defensive pair that is highly vulnerable. This is why McQuaid and McAvoy could start together and Grzelyck and Miller could start together.
Paul Postma was an afterthought in Winnipeg last year. The Bruins acquired him for some defensive depth and I cannot see him making many starts aside from wide sweeping injuries or extremely underwhelming defensive performances from the starting defenseman. I would expect Postma to fill a role similar to what Joe Morrow did last year.
O’Gara and Johansson definitely still have more developing to do and could spend another year or two in providence, providing nobody else gets injured.
Providence Starter: McIntyre
Providence Backup: Subban
Rask is the starter for obvious reasons, and Subban is last on this depth chart for obvious reasons. The interesting part of the goalie depth chart is the separation between Khudobin and McIntyre. Khudobin had a very weak year in the NHL last year and McIntyre had a very strong year in the AHL. McIntyre even got a few starts at the NHL level and performed as well as you would expect an AHL goalie to do. If Khudobin has a slow start, it seems extremely likely he could get sent down Providence and McIntyre could become the backup in Boston.
My prediction for the Bruins this year is that they will score 94 points on the season. That amount of points should be enough to score them a second wildcard spot. Getting the second wildcard would mean they would be playing the best team in the eastern conference in the first round, and i cannot see them advancing past round 1. The playoff experience will do the rookies good and I would expect that in the 2018-19 season, with more developed players the Bruins would be poised to make a run to the second round. I believe the Bruins could be solid and a force in the east by 2021, assuming everything goes according to plan with the development of these young players.
You heard it here first, 2021 Stanley Cup Champions will be your Boston Bruins