Before the NHL season began the Boston Bruins were looked at as a Stanley Cup contender. Now a month into the season, the team looks more like a team destined for a first round playoff exit. From a lack of depth, to a struggling goaltender, to a struggling coach, the team looks like they’re in for a long and unhappy offseason.
Let’s start with Tuukka Rask. He’s currently on leave from the team for a personal issue. I’ll leave it at that. A personal issue is between him and those he chooses to confide the issue with. With his play to start the season, it certainly feels like he’s been dealing with it all season long. Whatever the issue is, the hope is that when he returns he’ll be fine because if he’s not, this team won’t go anywhere far.
One of the main reasons the Bruins were easily man handled by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs was their lack of depth on offense. The issue needed to be addressed during the offseason and it wasn’t. Instead of bringing in players that would fill the roles the Bruins needed, they went out and grabbed two bottom-6 grinding forwards. Joakim Nordstrom is a valuable guy that can fill in on any line, but he isn’t a guy that the Bruins can rely on to get the job done on offense every night. Chris Wagner is a hitting 4th liner that came with energy. Though he’s done a great job at that, it isn’t something that’ll help the Bruins when the Lightning or Toronto Maple Leafs come knocking.
Aside from the offensive outburst in Thursday’s 8–5 loss to the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks, the Bruins offense has been a one-trick pony. If the top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak doesn’t produce, the team isn’t winning. Having one line get the job done is not going to bring the Bruins 16 wins from April to June. There needs to be better production throughout the lineup if they want to be a contender. And the setting of the lineup for games falls on one guy….Bruce Cassidy.
Cassidy had a terrific start as the Bruins head coach. He took over for Claude Julien in the 2016–17 season and led the team to the playoffs. He then led the team to one of the best records in hockey during the 2017–18 campaign and brought them to the second round of the playoffs. But as we sit here during the 2018–19 campaign, things aren’t looking too pretty. The Bruins are a pedestrian 8–5–2 through what’s been a relatively easy schedule to start the season. Injuries to the defensive core and the lack of depth can take some of the blame, but Cassidy deserves some blame too.
David Krejci has been under the gun in Boston for recent seasons due to his lack of production. Here’s my question to those who hate him…who’s he been playing with? He’s got 13 points in 14 games this season and some of that’s because he’s got Jake DeBrusk on his wing. But why can’t he have another solid wing like David Pastrnak? Pastrnak creates one of the NHL’s greatest trio’s alongside Bergeron or Marchand, which makes it tough to break those three up. However, who hasn’t seen success with Bergeron and Marchand? You could put anybody alongside those two and they’ll be fine. Krejci is a guy that can be at the top of his game when he’s surrounded by talent, so why hasn’t Cassidy moved Pastrnak to his wing yet? Moving him down and putting guys like Anders Bjork or Danton Heinen alongside Bergeron and Marchand will help the depth of the team going forward.
It’s not ideal to be freaking out 15 games into the season, but there’s absolutely a cause for concern with the Bruins right now. They had an easy schedule to start the season and struggled with it. They’ve received no production from their bottom-6 forwards, they’ve got a weird situation in goal, and they’ve got a coach who seemingly is in over his head right now. They’ve gone from Stanley Cup contender to first round playoff exit real quick to start the 2018–19 season. Maybe it’s time to start questioning what’s going on with the Bruins at the moment.
You love fantasy sports but getting tired of the same thing every year? Stop it. Join ThriveFantasy today where you bet on only the top tier players and gain points based on prop bets. Sign up today using the Couch Guy Sports link NOW & get in on the action. (Must deposit a minimum of $10 upon signup and ThriveFantasy will match)
Kevin Maggiore (@kevin_maggiore)