Bruins Have Reasons for Optimism Despite Slow Start

It is natural in sports to often fixate on what is going wrong, rather than what is going well. It’s important to be aware of what needs to be improved, but it is also important to acknowledge what is working. Currently sitting at 6-4-0, the Boston Bruins may not look like Stanley Cup favorites, but it isn’t all bad.  

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While the Bruins first ten games of the season have been far from perfect and there is a lot that needs to be improved on if the team wants to make a deep playoff run, there are still reasons to be optimistic for the remaining 72 games of the season. Ultimately, it is too early to hit the panic button, so instead, let’s look at three of the reasons to be optimistic as November marches on.

DeBrusk and Coyle Off to Better Starts

The issues with depth scoring may not be completely solved yet, but there has been some improvement over the last season. Specifically, two players that were under the microscope coming into this season, Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk, are playing better.

Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins
Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Coyle has six points, including three goals, through the first 10 games. He is well on the way to surpassing last year’s six goals and 16 total points in 51 games. DeBrusk, who was benched at times last season, already has two goals this season. In 2020-21, he only had five goals in 41 games. It would be nice for him to have a few more points, but he is once again shooting the puck. Last season, his shooting percentage was only 5.4% and this year he’s back up to 11.1%. It’s not the 17.3% from the 2018-19 season when he had 27 goals, but it is an improvement and something to be at least a little bit optimistic about. 

 As expected, Brad Marchand is the top scorer on this team with 15 points in 10 games, which is good for my preseason wishlist that he’d reach 100 points this season. Patrice Bergeron being second with eight points also isn’t very surprised.

Is this the best group of forwards in the league? No. Are there improvements that will most likely have to be made at the trade deadline? Yes.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

But, this group has more fire in them then we have seen in the last two seasons. Coyle and DeBrusk are a great example of that. They are two guys under a lot of pressure this season, and they’re playing with more energy than we saw last year. The points will come as they settle into the season, the inconsistent games in October have posed some interesting issues. Most importantly, both players are showing more flashes of their potential.

Charlie McAvoy Contract Extension

There are a lot of questions with the Bruins’ defensive group right now, but one question that no one has to worry about is the state of Charlie McAvoy’s contract. He is already the star of Boston’s blue line and an elite defenseman in this league at only 24. He is the present and the future of this team. 

McAvoy signed his eight-year, $76 million extension on Oct. 15. It is the largest contract in Bruins’ history, but it fits completely with the recent trend of contracts for defensemen. The average annual value (AAV) of $9.5 million is honestly what was expected and what has been earned. He is one of the top defensemen in the league and should be paid as such.

Honestly, beside the fact that the contract is done and it won’t be hanging over the team all season, fans and management alike should be optimistic about the fact that it wasn’t higher. No one would have been particularly surprised if his extension had been in the $80 million range. 

Charlie McAvoy Boston Bruins
Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The term isn’t bad either. In a day and age where seven and eight year contracts are being given out a little too frequently for my taste, signing your 24-year-old superstar for eight years should work out for both the team and the player. He’ll still only be 31 when the contract is up, and should still be at the top of his game. If he wants to test free agency, he could get a big payday and the Bruins will most likely reach the end of the eight-years without regretting the eight years, something I wouldn’t be too sure about for some of the other teams that recently signed players to long term contracts. 

McAvoy is such a bright spot for this team and each season, he somehow seems to be getting better and better. He currently has seven points in 10 games and is a plus-two. There literally isn’t much more he could be doing for this team right now.

Patrice Bergeron is the Captain

You would be hard pressed to find anyone who dislikes Patrice Bergeron. It’s sometimes hard to really say whether or not a player is genuinely a good person. There is so much that we don’t see with athletes and people in general who exist in the spotlight. 

But Bergeron truly does seem like not only a great leader, but a good person. In recent seasons, he’s devoted time to talk about the importance of mental health amongst athletes and recently, in the wake of the Kyle Beach story, had the whole team sit down and watch the interview together. These things demonstrate the marks of a truly amazing captain.

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On the ice, Bergeron continues to defy age expectations. At 36, he’s currently second on the team with nine points in 10 games and is a plus-two. As well as he leads off the ice, he also leads on the ice. 

Boston is lucky to have Bergeron as the captain of this team. It makes me optimistic for not just how the team will perform on the ice, but off it as well. In light of everything going on these days, that is also incredibly important.

Getting into a Rhythm

The Bruins are finally playing some consistent games of hockey, and hopefully that means they can get into a rhythm. The team has struggled with consistency so far this season. They’ve yet to really string together three good periods of hockey in a single game. Now that they aren’t having long gaps between games, they’ll get more into the flow of the season. 

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While there are many valid areas of concern with the Bruins right now, there are also things to remain positive about. The season is still young and there are 72 games ahead for this team to work out some of their issues. Hopefully they figure it out sooner rather than later.

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