By Nick Germano
Just about a week into the 2019-20 regular season, the Boston Bruins are looking like the team we all know them to be: dominant and consistent. However, even with a group of this caliber, they still have some questions that need to be answered to guarantee success. I’ll be breaking down some of the burning questions and give my thoughts on the best route to success for this team
Who should be the permanent 2RW?
Any Bruins fan knows that the 2RW position has been the center of offseason talks for many years now, and the front office just can’t seem to find their “guy” after Milan Lucic was traded years back. To begin the season, they rolled out with Karson Kuhlman, which I predicted, and I think it’s been nothing short of success so far. His speed and awareness off of the puck gives David Krejci a great supplement to his skill. However, standing just taller than me at 5’11”, he lacks the size and strength Lucic had. Considering that’s when Krejci thrived most, I don’t believe this is necessarily a permanent line. Since Cassidy is known for switching the lines up often when things aren’t working, I would expect this to be a sort of experiment for now.
I think by the end of the year, assuming no injuries, David Backes could actually end up filling in for Kuhlman on the second line. I know his name lives in infamy in most fans’ hearts, but I think I’ve seen him play a step-up from last season. That being said, his consistency is still in question for me, since we’re only five games in at the time this article is being written, so let’s see if he can continue to play the way he is. However, if Kuhlman keeps up his pace as well, I think Cassidy would instead stick with Kuhlman and give Backes that bottom-six role to help out with the less-experience players.
Considering their depth in Providence, I also don’t expect any trades to be made this season for a right winger. They have a lot of options to try in P-Town, like Zach Senyshyn, Anders Bjork, Jakub Lauko, and even Peter Cehlarik if they need to, just to name a few. It’s all about finding the piece to the puzzle that fits, and it’s looking like this year will finally be the year for me.
What will happened when Moore and Miller return?
John Moore and Kevan Miller are two names most Bruins fans have probably forgotten about by this point. Both players are defensemen who have been out with injuries for a long time, and their return to the ice will not be for a long time. However, when that time comes, do they earn their spot back in the top-six? Or do they get sent down to Providence, or to another team/waivers?
John Moore is a player I have never liked and probably never will. During his on-ice tenure with the Bruins, he was absolutely abysmal, holding some of the worst advanced statistics I have ever seen from an NHL-caliber defenseman with his magnitude of a contract. Considering he’s locked up for four more years with his contract, I think it’s going to be very hard to find a team to take him from us. However, if the organization wants the room to sign their heavy free-agent class next season, they need to make some roster moves, and I’d much rather see John Moore hit the road over Kevan Miller. Kevan Miller, when healthy, is a physical, bottom-six defenseman who brings grit and heart to the table. I think he and Kampfer, and even Vaakanainen can serve as plenty of blue-line depth when the injury plague imminently rolls around. However, you can’t keep everyone, and I think it would be best for everyone in Boston if Moore found his way out.
What should the split between Halak and Rask be this season?
Short answer: precisely the same as last season. Don’t fix something that isn’t broken.
Halak and Rask are, without a doubt, one of, if not the best goalie tandems in this league, and the Bruins need to do everything they can to utilize both of them to the best of their ability. With that being said, I’d expect somewhere around a 50-32 split in favor of Rask, because it’s become undeniable for him to perform in the playoffs, he needs plenty of rest (see 2018-19 playoffs). Out of all the questions, it seems like this one is definitely the easiest to answer. Not much explanation needed.