Well, it couldn’t have been a more disappointing end to the year for the Boston Bruins. This team had a wildly successful season under head coach Bruce Cassidy, who completed his first full campaign as head coach, accumulating a record of 50-20-12 for 112 total points. Those 112 points were good for second-most in the Eastern Conference, and for fourth-most in the entire NHL.
There was so much hope surrounding the Bruins and their fan base as the team headed into the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs. The city of Boston had been overrun with Cup fever. But the season ended far earlier than it should have, with the Bruins bowing out to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. The worst part is that the Bruins kicked off the series in dominant fashion, winning Game 1 by a score of 6-2 on the road. But then the Lightning roared back with four straight wins to send the Bruins packing.
All of a sudden, this team just ran out of gas. They had no fight left in them. They let Tampa Bay get the better of them in four straight games, including two embarrassing losses on their home ice.
There’s no sugarcoating it. The Lightning may have been the better team, but the Bruins pretty much just laid down in front of them and didn’t even give them a fight. Maybe they were worn out from their grueling seven-game series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Whatever it was, it was purely a disappointing end to what could’ve been a special season.
But even though the Bruins have been knocked out in early May, here are a few things the fans can look forward to.
David Pastrnak Hasn’t Even Reached His Prime yet
The Bruins are fortunate to have a very bright young star on their roster whose prime is still ahead of him. David Pastrnak, the kid from the Czech Republic, is just weeks away from turning 22 years old. He had a sensational season in 2017-18, as he led the Bruins in goals scored with 35, more than both seasoned veterans Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
Pastrnak finished second on the team in total points as well with 80, just behind Marchand’s 85 and way ahead of Bergeron’s 63. To be fair, Pastrnak is the only one of the three that played in all 82 games during the regular season. But Marchand is just days away from turning 30, and Bergeron is just months away from turning 33. Those two guys have been doing this for a very long time, combining for 21 years of NHL experience.
The young Pastrnak is still coming into his own, and he’s already one of the best pure goal-scorers on the Bruins roster. Give him a few more seasons, and he’ll be considered one of the best overall players in the NHL. He’ll develop into a Patrick Kane-type player — someone that opponents will want to keep the puck away from at all costs, because when he has it, their net will never be safe.
So chin up, Bruins fans. We still have the rest of Pastrnak’s career to look forward to.
Bruins Get Chara for at Least One More Season
If you want to talk about a seasoned NHL veteran, look no further than Boston’s 41-year-old captain. And since Chara recently signed an extension to come back for at least one more year, Bruins fans get to look forward to seeing No. 33 back on the ice again next year.
Not only is Chara the tallest player in NHL history at 6-foot-9, but he’s the best leader and mentor a professional hockey team could ask for. And even though his numbers may not be what they were 10-15 years ago, the Bruins keep him around for what he can teach to the younger guys — some of whom weren’t even born when Chara was drafted into the NHL.
So that’s one more thing the Boston fans can keep their heads up about: they know they’ve got at least one more year of Big Z.
More Brad Marchand Antics
Clearly, Brad Marchand is one of if not the most despised players in the NHL. Recently, the king of head games has had everyone and their mother in a fuss over his licking antics.
Seeing all these diehard hockey fans in a rage over his behavior, saying that Marchand is a disgrace to the sport, actually makes me chuckle a little bit. They may see it as disrespecting the game and the players, but I see it as doing whatever it takes to win … even if it means playing psychological head games with opponents. Nobody is better at it than Marchand, and apparently, you can only appreciate it if he plays for your favorite team. The only sad part about it is that it didn’t work very well against Tampa Bay.
Marchand might not be licking people next season, since the NHL is supposedly cracking down on the “licking laws.” But rest assured, he’ll have some other form of head games ready for the 2018-19 season, and I’m anxious to see what they will be.
I’m sure many other Bruins fans are as well.
Cody Rivera is a sports writer covering the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers, as well as a contributor to SB Nation’s PatsPulpit.com. In addition to the Bruins, Cody is also a devoted fan of the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots. Send Cody an email at firstname.lastname@example.org