By: Nick Germano
After dominating the month of October in the NHL, the Boston Bruins have found themselves to be the victims of a harsh fall from grace after such an amazing start by the team. The Bruins have lost four games in a row (two in a shootout), after one of the best starts to a season in team history. The Bruins have dropped six points in their last four matchups, after only dropping three points in the entire month of October. Three of the losses came to mediocre teams like Montreal, Philadelphia, and Detroit after taking down some of the best teams in the league just a week prior.
With injuries stacking up, it seems like Boston is finally coming back to reality; but is it time to hit the panic button yet? With the start they have had, I think it is definitely way too early.
I know Boston fans aren’t used to this type of distress, but Boston literally had such a good start that if they were to just go .500 for the rest of the season, they would still finish with 90 points and probably get a playoff spot. I think a lot of fans need to realize that a bad stint shouldn’t result in uprisings on Twitter and anxiety attacks at the team’s chances at the Cup. They are a month into the season. Please calm down.
The Boston Bruins have the best winger and goalie tandems in the entire league. Boston’s top seven leaders in points account for more goals and assists than the entire New Jersey Devils roster. Some people still argue that their offense is too top-heavy, as Boston’s first line consumes the top three spots on their points list, and with the addition of Coyle at 2C, I think it is fair to say that. When Boston’s first line doesn’t produce, they lose games. In their four most recent losses, Boston’s top line has combined for seven total points. In the other fourteen games, they combined for 72 points. Regardless, Pastrnak and Marchand are on pace for a record season this year even with the numbers they have been putting up on this losing streak.
The proof is in the pudding, but I think Cassidy needs to do a better job spreading out our offense below the first line. I would never touch the first line itself, but Heinen is definitely a liable 2RW and forcing Coyle to move there just doesn’t make sense. Boston has a lot of young talent in Providence, and when guys like Kuraly and Wagner are not performing to their best capabilities, I am surprised Cassidy hasn’t been more inclined to get some more young talent on the big stage.
In his eleven starts, Tuukka Rask has only let up five goals once and four or more goals twice, while sharing a joint lead in shutouts across the NHL. Tuukka has been on the back-end of a lot of criticism the last week or two, and I think that people need to stop being so quick to change sides with our team. Yes, he hasn’t had an amazing start to the new month, but regardless, Boston wouldn’t be the team they are without him. Rask is known to have his ups and downs, and I think this is just another case of that. It is extremely challenging to maintain top form like he was for such a long period of time, and when he does that, his standards get set too high by fans, leaving him to be severely ridiculed when his imminent fall occurs. Halak is a liable backup, providing Tuukka with plenty of rest so far and helping the team win games.
The big problem with this team right now is definitely injuries. Zach Senyshyn was just hurt in Boston’s last game and is now out for four weeks, leaving another Providence call-up out for a long amount of time. Boston is missing Jake DeBrusk, Torey Krug, Brett Ritchie, Karson Kuhlman, David Backes, Kevan Miller, and John Moore; almost all starting roster talent. The Bruins are dressing two Providence call-ups (Bjork, Frederic) on the second and third line verse the Maple Leafs, while also dressing Urho Vaakanainen on Boston’s last defensive pairing with Connor Clifton. For a team that can never seem to get rid of the injury bug, they still manage to play amazing hockey, and I credit that to Head-Coach Bruce Cassidy. He is not scared to mix lines up as we are mostly all aware, and he does what he needs to in order to win, no matter who’s walking out of that tunnel for the game.
So overall, I think Bruins fans need to take a deep breath and remember who the team we are rooting for is. The Bruins, despite all of their adversity and their tough schedule, are still one of the “teams to beat” in the entire league, and if they get the chance to pull back to full strength come March, other teams should be shaking in their boots.