The first two games of the season have shown fans two very different Boston Bruins teams. In the opener against Nashville, B’s fans were treated to a display of the exciting young prospects that Boston has been developing for years, with points from Anders Bjork, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk, and Charlie McAvoy. In the second game, the Bruins struggled to put any offense together and were shutout by the reigning NHL bottomfeeders, the Colorado Avalanche.
That kind of inconsistency plagued the Bruins last season. Throughout the course of the 2016-17 campaign, Boston looked like two different teams, one that could explode for five or six goals and lock down defensively on a given night, and one that looked lifeless offensively and conceded at a concerning rate.
This early in the season, you’d expect to see some inconsistency as players scrape away the offseason rust and settle in with teammates who they don’t have much experience with. But, as we move further into the season, the Bruins will have to be more accountable when it comes to the consistency of their play.
New Faces on Bruins Roster
A quick look around the 2017-18 Bruins locker room will show a much different team than last season. Despite a lack of offseason moves, the B’s have many new faces primarily those of the kids who are new to the big stage.
These players have the talent to compete at the NHL level, as they demonstrated in Boston’s opening night win against the Predators. But, at the end of the day, they’re new to the league and they’re going to make some mistakes as a result of that.
Take a look at Jake DeBrusk’s first two games, for example. On opening night, DeBrusk took center stage, notching a goal and an assist on four shots to earn a plus-2 rating. On Monday, he was limited to just one shot and finished with a minus-3.
While the plethora of prospects working their way through the Bruins system is exciting, it does make the team vulnerable to inconsistency. Each player will have to work through their own issues as they adjust to the league, which could lead to some struggles if several players slump at the same time.
On top of that, all of these new faces could take some time to develop chemistry with their linemates, especially given the line-juggling that Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy has done so far. In the coming weeks, you’d expect Cassidy to settle in with more concrete line combinations as the squad gets into the heart of the season.
As we dig deeper into the year, the leashes on Boston’s youngsters will be shortened. And, once the youngsters rack up more experience, they’ll be counted on to produce more consistently.
Special Teams in Boston
One thing that can make or break a team’s consistency is special teams. Last year, the Bruins were successful with both special teams units. Their penalty kill, which was effective in 85.7% of their chances, was the best in the NHL while their power play ranked 7th, opearting at 21.7%.
As of now, it’s far too early to judge the effectiveness of Boston’s special teams, especially given the fact that Torey Krug, Boston’s quarterback on the power play, was absent from the team’s first game with an injury. But, the core of Boston’s special teams remained intact over the offseason, and the team added some pieces (Charlie McAvoy, for example) that could make their special teams even more effective this year.
If the Bruins’ special teams can operate at a similar rate to last year, then they could provide some steadiness to a roster that may be prone to consistency issues once again this season.
Cam is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. He’s the Boston Bruins Beat Writer at The Hockey Writers, and is an avid college hockey fan. Find him on Twitter @CamHasbrouck!