Welcome to the latest THN.com profile detailing the NHL-team-by-team for the big questions ahead of the start of the upcoming regular season. For today, we look at three important questions for the Boston Bruins:
Three burning questions for the Bruins in 2022-23:
1. How will Boston play before its injured key players return to the field? Very few NHL teams can lose their first-line wing and top defense before the season begins, and still be able to stay in the race for an accessory berth. But that’s the challenge for the Bruins, who won’t have star striker Brad Marchand and #1 seed Charlie McAvoy until December. (They will also start the season without veteran D-man Matt Grzelcyk.) This will put enormous pressure on the rest of the Boston line-up, and in the Atlantic division that has dramatically improved teams in Ottawa and Detroit, these absences could put the Bruins in a big hole that they could face problems in. get out of it.
With new coach Jim Montgomery running things, and with trusted contributors David Pasternak, Taylor Hall and Jake Debrowsk, B can’t be counted from the deciding picture, especially after they’re back in full health. However, an injury error ruined Stanley Cup chances for a few franchises last season. Boston could be next, as many believe it doesn’t have enough depth at the elite level to get through the quarter without two of its top players. The way the Bruins compete in October and November may be the difference between making post-season and losing it.
2. What can a gray beard contribute to the Bruins? Bruins fans were relieved to hear that star quarterback Patrice Bergeron will be returning to the squad on a one-year contract with the team. The allure of familiarity also applies to the return of second midfielder David Craigie, who spent the 2021-22 campaign playing in his home country of the Czech Republic. But 36-year-old Craigie will have no trouble returning to the best hockey league in the world. In fact, once you hit your mid-30s in this young age of sports, you’ll need a superfast engine just to keep up.
In 2020-21, Craigie scored 36 assists and 44 points in 51 regular season games with Boston. In his previous two seasons in the National Hockey League, he averaged over 17 minutes of movement per game, and next year, he’ll likely play with Hall and either DeBrusk or Pastrnak. He has no excuses for not posting above-average offensive numbers, and Montgomery needs him and Bergeron to thrive. If one of them falters, it could be a massive problem for Boston’s opposition area attack, and their playoff hopes overall.
3. Who are the young players, if any, that will go up to earn a bachelor’s degree? The Bruins are an older team, especially up front: seven of the top 10 forwards are aged 30 or older, with Pastrnak (26), DeBrusk and winger Pavel Zacha (both 25) on the young side. To make matters worse, Boston’s probability pool is one of the weakest in the NHL, which means a novice or sophomore is unlikely to make his way to the top two lines.
Meanwhile, in defense, they are a little younger – McAvoy (24) and Brandon Carlo (23) are 27 years younger, and four are between 28 and 30 years old. Boston has strong goalkeepers in Jeremy Swayman and Linus Olmark, but both will be challenged to a greater degree this season, not least due to McAvoy’s absence.
As it stands, the Bruins have a pair of 24-year-olds in their fourth streak, but neither of those guys (Trent Frederick and Oscar Steen) will be making the difference for them this year. All veterans will be in the spotlight in Boston all season, and they’re unlikely to get a noticeable bump from their juniors.