May 4, 2019; Boston, MA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) and left wing Brad Marchand (63) celebrate after a third period gaol against the Carolina Hurricanes. Credit: Brian Fluharty-Inside Hockey
We have been going through this song and dance for the last several seasons.
It seems that every year when the Boston Bruins take the ice to begin the hockey campaign, the assumption is that this is the last real kick at the can to make a run at another Stanley Cup.
To be honest, that assumption is justified.
The core of this team has been together here in Boston for the past decade. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask comprise said core—all of whom have hoisted the greatest trophy in all professional sports back in June of 2011.
There have been some formative years since that magical season, including two Presidents’ Trophies, three conference championships, and eight individual awards. However, the goal for any organization is to win the Stanley Cup. For this group to really cement a legacy in the iconic aura of the National Hockey League, a second Cup is crucial.
The 2020-21 NHL season has been a good one thus far for the Black and Gold. Heading into Thursday night’s game, they sit atop of the East Division with an 11-3-2 record and 24 points. There was a stretch where the Bruins went 9-0-1 before dropping back-to-back games. Boston righted the ship with a huge 7-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers this past Sunday in Lake Tahoe.
Speaking of which, the Bruins were able to handle some adversity going into that outdoor tilt. Boston was shorthanded on the blue line after disclosed injuries to Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril. Grzelcyk has been limited to just six games this season due to a nagging lower-body injury. He has managed to notch three assists and top power-play time during those games. As for Zboril, the upper-body injury he had was not deemed to be serious.
Yet, the B’s went into Sunday’s game with the Flyers with a complete alteration to their entire left side of the defense. Why? Jeremy Lauzon also went down early on with a fractured hand and will be out four weeks. Yikes.
The good news? The likes of John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, and Brandon Carlo really stepped up. The latter (Carlo) even donned the second “A” as an alternate captain for the Tahoe game, which truly demonstrates just how much the 24-year-old defenseman has matured into a young leader for this team.
One of the staples for this team over the past couple of seasons has been the dynamic goaltending. Rask and Jaroslav Halak are performing good enough to lead the Bruins down the stretch. Rask currently has a 7-2-1 record with a 2.56 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. Meanwhile, Halak possesses a 4-1-1 record with a 1.66 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. Those numbers are marks of consistency.
What it boils down to (as usual) is the offensive depth. When healthy, the Bruins do have enough firepower up front to contend for the Stanley Cup. However, this year has been fickle when it comes to having a fully healthy lineup. Ondrej Kase has been out of action since the second game of the season. Krejci, David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, and Craig Smith have all missed some action as well.
It would behoove the Bruins to make some sort of move to really solidify their position in the league as a top contender. Supposedly, the Detroit Red Wings have made it public that they are selling off pieces. Bobby Ryan could be a logical choice if Boston were to explore that option.
Ryan has shown in the past that he can be a solid NHL goal scorer. He has tallied five goals and four assists in 20 games so far this season. Although the production has dropped, that would only benefit the Bruins in the sense that they might not have to give up too much for him.
We will see how that situation plays out.
As for the upcoming schedule, the Bruins will play three games in four days—all of which will be played on the road in New York. They will get the Islanders on Thursday night, followed by games against the Rangers on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.
Boston is winless in two games against the Islanders this season but are a perfect 2-0-0 against the Rangers. Both teams have been a lot to handle for the Bruins with their style of play, and these three games should be no different. What will be different for the set of games over the weekend is that the Bruins will be playing in front of fans for the first time in almost a year.
The Bruins are rolling right now, and they have made it clear that the championship window is still open.