15-16 Season Record: 42-31-9 (4th in the Atlantic)
The Boston Bruins have been on the brink of the playoff picture for two straight seasons and were unlucky on the first and choked on the second. Third time’s the charm right?
There’s no question the Bruins have gotten weaker and are starting to rebuild over the last couple of seasons, but this is still a very good team and in a questionable Atlantic division they should be more than capable of reaching the postseason.
Additions and Defense
They’ve still got Tuukka Rask in net, who should be able to bounce back from one of the worst seasons of his career. If he doesn’t, Anton Khudobin at backup is a much safer bet than Jonas Gustavsson was last year. In addition to adding Khudobin the Bruins picked up David Backes, Dominic Moore, Danton Heinen, and Riley Nash.
Goaltending should be a strength for this team, but it may look worse than it actually is thanks to the Defense in front of it. Zdeno Chara has seen better days, but he’s still a very capable D-man, while Torey Krug is extremely underrated for what he brings to the table offensively. It’s the rest of the group that’s questionable, although 7th D-man Colin Miller looks very promising.
For years, Zdeno Chara was the top, go-to defenseman that came up big in the most pivotal of situations for the Bruins. Although, that time has passed in a sense. Chara, while hanging in as an above-average defenseman is not who he used to be. That being said, he will be 40 by the end of the season. He’s still the anchor of the Bruins blueline, but Claude Julien will have to make big decisions when it comes to the next pair. Though Chara isn’t a one man defense, they will all need to be reliable this season if the Bruins want to get back into the mix of the playoff picture.
Bergeron and Marchand
Up front is the Bruins biggest strength as they possess an extremely capable top nine group that mitigates any negative effects of their dreadful back line. The catalyst for any Bruins success comes from one of the league’s best duos: Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. They’re the biggest reason the team is projected to finish this high as their combined value is among the largest in the league for a team’s top two forwards. Bergeron being the playmaker of the two and has been a constant faceoff threat, He is one of, if not the best, defensive centers in the league winning 3 of the 4 Frank J. Selke trophies from 2011-2015, losing one to Jonathan Toews in 2013.
Brad Marchand is the ying to Bergeron’s yang. Every playmaking goal scoring duo needs that one guy with an edge. The biggest problem with Marchand’s game is the lack of discipline that occasionally presents itself as an issue. The edgy winger has always been on the line with the Bruins, working as an agitator on the ice and as a goal scorer. It’s a position that Marchand excels in and one that makes him extremely productive when he does it correctly. He’s one of Boston’s quickest and most gifted players and is a top producer for the Bruins when his head is in the right place.
They had a shaky start, losing three straight, but with a 4-4-0 record going into November, they are now in much better position. The black and gold have shown that they have the power to win big putting up 6 points against the Blue Jackets. But, they have also shown that with Rask and Khudobin out, their defense doesn’t have what it takes to stop a strong, aggressive offense. They have up 5 goals in back to back games against the Wild and the Rangers, who were both playoff teams last season. Over the next two weeks the B’s have games every other day with back to back games against the Sabres and Habs on the 6th and 7th. Coming up in the first week of November, The B’s take on the Panthers (4-4-1), the Lightning (5-4-0), and a rematch against the Rangers (6-3-0). The Bruins have the talent to win these three games, it’s just a matter of execution.