Bruins: 3 Takeaways From First 5 Games

Coming off the Game 7 loss, we expected the Boston Bruins to be ready to play and prove themselves as still being one of the league’s elite teams. However, they aren’t going to have a perfect or near-perfect season. Eventually, they are going to run into some issues, whether it’s injuries to top players or fatigue setting in. However, the way they are playing right now is exactly what needs to happen. They need to build up as many points as possible to be at an advantage at later points in the season when the playing level intensifies.

After a week of playing, the Bruins hold a 4-1-0 record with much of their scoring coming from their top line; Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. In addition, they have been getting solid performances from their goaltenders, allowing just 1.6 goals per game and a .952 save percentage.  

What’s Working: Consistent Defense

The Bruins are a team that takes pride in its defensive depth, as they should. With five games under their belt, they are sitting among the top of the league standings with their defense to thank. Zdeno Chara has always played a big part in that with his leadership and well-earned reputation as one of the NHL’s top shutdown defensemen. He’s paired with Charlie McAvoy who is among the NHL’s top 20 defensemen in the league, best known for his physicality and strong two-way play, while Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo make a comfortable second defensive pairing.

Zdeno Chara Tuukka Rask
Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and goaltender Tuukka Rask, Game 6 of the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Final (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Matt Grezlyck and Connor Clifton round out their defensive pairings who also present a strong, physical front and solid two-way play. Having defensive depth helps them have a solid back layer that makes it hard for any opponent to get by, resulting in victory.

Despite some hiccups here and there — like Carlo’s indecision at the blue line and some neutral zone turnovers — they have been consistent at keeping their opponents at bay. When they haven’t, their goaltending has fortunately been able to pick up the slack.

What Needs Improvement: Third-Line Chemistry

During the offseason, the big concern was who would make the second line successful alongside David Krejci. Now that the season has begun, the question shifts to the third line. Danton Heinen and Charlie Coyle are the two consistent members with David Backes and Brett Ritchie filling in on the right side. While Ritchie has had some success, there hasn’t been much point production.

Bruins center Charlie Coyle
Bruins center Charlie Coyle (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Coyle had a lot of hype surrounding him coming into this season, especially after a strong training camp. However, with the regular season under way, he has been flying under the radar with only one point registered.

“I think the more we get more games under our belt together we’ll get down tendencies, and we’ll gel a little bit more together. It starts with getting those chances, getting to the right spots and doing the right things. When you create those chances that’s when they start going in. But you’ve got to keep at it. When you’re not getting those chances, it means you’re going away from your game. You just want to make sure you’re doing the right things, playing the right way and just working.”

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The line does a decent job at maintaining puck possession, but they need to generate more shots on goal. While their top line is good enough to carry the scoring workload, they’re going to need secondary scoring to start coming from somewhere.

Special Teams: Good, Not Great

Last night against the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins had numerous power play opportunities, but struggled finding the back of the net, which is concerning given the status of the Devils’ penalty kill (worst in the NHL).

Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins
BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 23: Torey Krug #47 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Part of it could be that they were up by two, allowing for the opportunity to take extra time to make extra passes, but they also ended up playing fancy and creating turnovers. With the turnovers comes shorthanded opportunities that have them sitting in the same position as last year with the most conceded shorthanded goals.

They need to keep their game simple, be strong along the boards and have a solid net-front presence. When they go back to the basics and jam in rebounds, they score goal and inevitably win games.