Let’s be real with each other here, when the Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney sneakily fired veteran coach Claude Julien, did anyone truly believe that this current roster could make a playoff run?
On February 7, Sweeney fired the most winningest coach in Bruins history, in a desperate attempt to light a fire under the team’s grill. A team which had logged only 58 points in the teams first 54 games.
But seriously Don, you really thought that because millions of Patriots fans were drinking at 10 in the morning on that slushy day in February, celebrating greatness, that you could hide such a firing behind a parade? Well Played.
The Bruins then hire Interim Coach Bruce “Butch” Cassidy, who was undoubtedly the teams spark-plug. Cassidy maximized production out of young talents such as Frank Vatrano, Tim Schaller, Ryan Spooner, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo, and of course Charlie Mcavoy.
Tuukka Rask was imperative for the 180 turnaround, while on his back the team produced consistent points in the last 28 games of the season. Rask had several shutouts down the stretch, leading the team to its first playoff berth in 3 years. This was the first time in a while I had thought to myself, the Bruins could make a run for the Cup.
No one would disagree with that argument going into the playoffs, the Bruins were one of the scariest teams to play against. They were streaky, and their roster from top to bottom was built for the playoff atmosphere.
Who was to disagree? 37 points in 28 games, one of the streakiest teams in the league alongside one of the hottest goaltenders at the time. Set to play 7 games against an Ottawa Senators team that was not more talented, nor faster than our youthful roster.
Boston fans are extremely passionate when it comes to their hockey, or all our sports for that matter. We are a city who is all-in or nothing. We want Championships; nothing less. So why exactly is this season a success?
For starters, our team was a rebuilder containing savvy vets who are on their way out in the succumbing years. Our young talent is extremely raw, and for a team to earn 95 points in a season when they simply could not score goals, is nothing short of remarkable.
The Bruins season ended in the first round of this years Stanley Cup Playoffs to the no. 4 seed Ottawa Senators in a sea-saw series that had 4 overtime games played, as well as 1 Craig Anderson shutout. All of which were games that could have been won by either team.
Don’t send me to the gallows just yet; I know what you’re thinking, “Well if we had such a great season why didn’t we get out of the first round”. Well Mr. Devil’s Advocate, look back to my first paragraph. 55 games in the Boston Bruins were an absolute train wreck. It seemed as if blowing the team up was the best option.
But I applaud Sweeney for remaining patient. He acquired veteran forward Drew Stafford at the deadline, who put up a respectable 8 points in 18 games down the stretch.
Let’s not forget about the team’s elite stars, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, who logged career high’s in points this season (Pastrnak 70, Marchand 85). This was a remarkable season for both players, both of which scored 30+ goals in a league that is not as point friendly as it was in the 90’s. It is extremely impressive for a Bruin to score more than 65 points in a season at this point in franchise history.
Here’s a list of the players that have scored that many points in the past 10 years while wearing the B on their sweater.
- Marc Savard, 88 Points, 2009
- Brad Marchand, 85 Points, 2017
- Marc Savard(2), 78 Points, 2008
- David Krejci, 73 Points, 2009
- David Pastrnak, 70 Points, 2017
- David Krejci(2), 69 Points, 2014
- Patrice Bergeron, 68 Points, 2016
- Tyler Seguin, 67 Points, 2012
A measly 6 players in 10 years have put up 65 points. That my friends is not good.
Nonetheless, the Bruin’s captains had very respectable seasons despite being on the hot seat. Zdeno Chara has taken a lot of heat this season for being washed up. I personally believe the Bruins should not lock Chara in for next years roster in hopes that the Las Vegas Golden Knights acquire him in this years expansion draft.
In hindsight, Chara’s season was exceptional. The 40-year-old Captain respectably posted 29 points this season with a +/- of 18. His playoff stats were not as forgiving and a few bonehead delay of game penalties may have driven certain fans to insanity. But lets not throw Big Z under the bridge just yet. He has had a great career in Boston.
The biggest story of the season has got to be Patrice Bergeron, the teams top-line Center who has been playing this entire season with a sports hernia. Bergeron, the alternate captain for the Bruins, scored 53 points this season in 79 games. Which makes me wonder, what is more impressive? The fact that he scored 41 points in the teams last 43 games, or the fact that he managed to play 79 games with a sports hernia!
Bergeron’s season is synonymous to how the Bruins season went. A rocky start with an empowering finish. This year’s team was realistically too young to make a Cup run, they would have had to face 2 of the 3 perennial powerhouses in the east moving forward. These teams being the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, and Pittsburgh Penguins (All of which are built to win now).
Our team is simply not built for a run just yet, despite the core veteran pieces, a tremendous goaltender, and our stealth progress. We cannot win a series with players like Jimmy Hayes on our roster (58 GP, 5 Pts, -3 +/-). Next season is the year we see a lot of new faces, young studs who need to be evaluated.
So as I sign off I would like to finish by saying don’t be mad Bruins fans, our team had a fantastic season with many ups and downs. Butch Cassidy will be returning, and as all Bostonians like to say, “Next Year is Ours”