The Boston Bruins are in a scratch this season. This Boston Bruins roster is an aging team with many of their core players turning into RFAs or UFAs next season and with zero cap space to work with. This season may be their last dance in the playoffs before they have to rebuild. But the issue with this season is that this is the strongest the Atlantic Division has looked in a long time. Add on a new coach this season, and the Bruins are looking at an uncertain year at best and a missed playoff run at worse. But even so, there is much to look forward to if you are a Bruins fan.
Many coaching changes happened during the off-season, but one of the most surprising was Bruce Cassidy’s firing. He started with the team in 2016 and was able to lead the team into a Stanley Cup final in his tenure. He became a high-profile coach for many of the other teams that were searching for a coach, and he was soon picked up by the Vegas Golden Knights after his firing.
Jim Montgomery was announced as the new hire, and right away, there is hope he will perform better than in his last head-coaching stint with the Dallas Stars. Although the on-ice productions were great, Montgomery was removed from the team for an undisclosed issue that saw his termination.
After a few years and back as a head coach, it is his chance to make a splash. He is now in charge of an aging, but skilled team that is surrounded by a division of young talent that is looking to give their team a playoff chance. If he cannot prove results this year, he may have more time to transition and it will be GM Don Sweeney to transition this team into the new age. Although knowing the Bruins’ past seasons, they may find success sooner than what is expected.
The “New” Addition
The Bruins weren’t active in signing new talent this off-season and only signed a handful of players for a season or two. Most were made up of players that will likely end up on the Bruins’ farm team in the AHL, the Providence Bruins.
But there was one familiar pickup in the offseason. David Krejci returned to the Bruins roster after spending one season with the HC Olomouc in the Czech Extraliga. It may be the team needs off-ice help, but Krejci’s best years are behind him, and in his final season a few years ago, he was ready to retire. It wouldn’t matter if he were the only older player on the team but on a team where it’s unlikely to find someone under the age of 20, it may be a challenge for this Bruins roster to compete with younger teams such as the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators. The Senators have been making a lot of additions that are the polar opposite of the Bruins.
On paper, this team doesn’t look like a playoff team. However, this team has been a dominant team throughout the season, and there are players on the Bruins roster who know how to compete in this marathon of 82 games. They are a team that won’t be on many people’s discussion about the playoffs because of that, but it would be silly to not act like they have a chance.
Although, if they do make the playoffs, getting anything better than the wildcard spot would be a challenge. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning are the two toughest teams in the division, with the Florida Panthers keeping a solid third-place ranking even with them downsizing in the offseason. Linus Ullmark may also keep the team on their feet in decisive matches. He has been an underestimated piece in the Bruins’ recent success.
At worse, the Bruins will miss the playoffs. If that were to happen, there would need to be a soft rebuild to get themselves in a better cap situation and will have to release some over-aged veterans. The Detroit Red Wings have done it in the past and recently have been making signings that have steadily improved their team.
This Bruins roster is still a strong team, but the Atlantic looks stronger. How the Bruins respond to the division will be the key to their success.
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