The Boston Bruins haven’t had the greatest of starts to the 2021-22 season. At this time, they sport a 17-10-2 record and are fourth in the Atlantic Division. Although they haven’t been bad, it’s fair to say that they have had many moments where they have been underwhelming. With it now being 2022, here are four New Year’s resolutions that they surely have for it. If Boston sticks to them, they should have no trouble improving on their season.
Get David Pastrnak Going Again
The 2021-22 season hasn’t been off to the greatest of starts for winger David Pastrnak. In 29 games, he has nine goals, 13 assists, and a plus-4 rating. These numbers aren’t bad by any means, but when looking at how much he has contributed over the last handful of seasons, they are low for his standards. Keep in mind, the 25-year-old just had a 95-point campaign in 70 games during the 2019-20 season. Thus, everybody knows he’s capable of being a point-per-game player at a minimum. From here, that is what we should expect from him.
Once the Bruins returned from the holiday break, head coach Bruce Cassidy opted to switch up the lines. With this, Pastrnak was dropped to the second line and reunited with Taylor Hall. In his first two games after the switch, he was held off the scoresheet. Yet, in Tuesday night’s contest against the New Jersey Devils, he scored the eventual game-winner. This is exactly what the doctor ordered for him, so perhaps there will be more of this to come as 2022 continues.
Better Depth Scoring Throughout the Bruins’ Lineup
Speaking of line changes, the Bruins not only did this in an attempt to get Pastrnak going but also the entire team. Like every year, Boston has struggled immensely with depth scoring this campaign. At this time, they only have six players with at least 10 points this season. When looking at all of the additions they made to the bottom six this offseason, this is entirely unacceptable. If they hope to be a threat during the postseason, this needs to change.
Since the start of 2022, however, we have already seen the depth scorers start to wake up. With that, it isn’t surprising to see that the Bruins have gone on to win three straight contests. During those three games, they scored 14 total goals, but the majority have been from forwards not on the first line. Both Nick Foligno and Trent Frederic scored their first goals of the season, while fourth-liners like Curtis Lazar and Tomas Nosek each had multi-point games. The most beautiful statistic, however, is that 13 different players in total accounted for those 14 goals. This is exactly what the Bruins need to continue doing from here.
More Reliability From the Defense
Although not nearly talked about as much as their scoring woes, the Bruins haven’t been perfect defensively, either. For example, both Mike Reilly and Connor Clifton both have been healthy scratched multiple times this season. Yet, with Jakub Zboril sustaining his season-ending injury, we likely won’t be seeing these two sit again any time soon. With this being the case, the Bruins need not only these two but the rest of their defensive core to provide more overall stability.
When a team is struggling to score like the Bruins, they need their defensemen to play at their highest levels. There have been numerous times this season where defensive miscues have led to very frustrating goals against. Although the Bruins should aim to acquire an upgrade for the left side of their defense, they need to make the best of what they have now. If they can match the form they had last season on the back end, it will only help their chances of being in the playoffs this spring.
Bruins Should Add at the Deadline
If the Bruins truly want to go for one last Stanley Cup during the Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand era, they need to make big splashes at the deadline. Let’s be frank – the current roster that they possess isn’t enough to accomplish this goal. Although they certainly aren’t bad, they are below Atlantic Division rivals like the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Toronto Maple Leafs by a noticeable degree. However, if they were to fix a few of their glaring issues, perhaps this could change.
Every hockey fan knows that the Bruins desperately need to add both a second-line center and left-handed defenseman. The loss of David Krejci has left a massive hole in their forward group, and Charlie Coyle nor Erik Haula are acceptable replacements for him. San Jose Sharks center Tomas Hertl would be the perfect rental for the Bruins. As for defense, although they are high in quantity when it comes to the left side, their quality is questionable. Acquiring Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes would be a dream come true, as he would finally give them a legitimate partner for Charlie McAvoy on the top pair. No matter who they end up with, upgrades are needed.
The Bruins deserve a lot of praise for how they have started the new year. However, it is just getting started, and they are in for a tough stretch of games from here. Over their next three, they play the Minnesota Wild, Lightning, and Washington Capitals. If these first three resolutions are present during them, they could get some much-needed wins against these very tough opponents. As for the fourth one, that of course will have to wait until we get closer to the deadline. Until then, let’s see how 2022 treats the Bruins.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.