With Christmas one week away, it feels like the perfect time to make a wish list for the Boston Bruins. It’s been a year of ups and downs for the team but they certainly aren’t out of the playoff picture yet. If Santa provides them with the items below, we should surely see the original six franchise once again make a pursuit for the Stanley Cup. Here’s to hoping that they aren’t on the naughty list, however, as the rest of the season could be marred by inconsistent play from here if so.
Bruins Need Good Health
The biggest thing that the Bruins want this holiday season is good health. At this juncture, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Craig Smith, Jeremy Swayman, Anton Blidh, Trent Frederic, and Oskar Steen are all in COVID-19 protocol. Given the nature of how contagious this virus is, there’s a very good chance that the team will see more players enter it shortly. Yet, as a big Christmas gift, it would be nice to see the rest of the team to avoid having to do so.
Furthermore, for those who have the illness, here’s to hoping that they have a speedy recovery and are able to return soon. We’d also like to see defenseman Jakub Zboril recover from his lower-body injury sooner rather than later. At this juncture, the team hasn’t announced an expected recovery time for the 24-year-old defenseman, so it appears that he’s in for a long-term absence. However, perhaps that will change and we could see him back in the near future. As for the rest of the team, we obviously would love if Santa gifted them with perfect health from here.
Better Depth Scoring for Boston
It seems that the Bruins have been in need of better depth scoring for multiple seasons now but they are just not getting it. Besides the first line, Charlie Coyle and Taylor Hall are the only forwards with at least 10 points this season. Disgruntled winger Jake DeBrusk follows them with eight points while Craig Smith has recorded seven in 19 games. It’s fair to state that this kind of production is very underwhelming but it gets even worse from here.
Newcomers Erik Haula and Nick Foligno were signed to provide a new spark to the third line but in terms of offensive production, they’ve been very disappointing thus far. In 25 games, Haula has a goal and five points while Foligno has recorded four assists in 18 games. If the Bruins hope to go on another deep playoff run, they simply need these two to produce more. The same can be said for the fourth-liners, as they each have five points or less on the campaign. Overall, it’s been another year of poor production from the Bruins’ depth forwards and it would be splendid if that were to change as the season progresses.
A Second-Line Center For Bruins
There’s no secret that the Bruins are in need of a second-line center. With the departure of David Krejci, they failed to bring in a legitimate replacement for him. Coyle has done his job in the spot thus far as he has seven goals and 14 points in 26 games. However, he is better suited for the third line, especially if the Bruins have aspirations of being legitimate contenders. As the season continues, they should be on the hunt for a new center to take over the role.
The big center that comes to mind immediately is Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks. He is a prime rental candidate and could work marvelously on a line with Hall and Smith. The Sharks are starting to come back down to Earth as they now have a 15-14-1 record after a very solid start to the 2021-22 regular season. If they continue to head in this direction, perhaps the Bruins will be able to land the 28-year-old center. If not him, there are other potential options like J.T. Miller from the Vancouver Canucks and Claude Giroux from the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Return of Tuukka Rask
Tuukka Rask has already practiced with the Bruins multiple times this season. It seems inevitable that the 34-year-old goaltender will end up re-signing with Boston as he has expressed that he wants to on numerous occasions. Bringing him back would make the Bruins even stronger in net which certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing in the slightest. He did state over the summer that he would sign a team-friendly deal as well, so there’s no real reason for the Bruins not to do this.
Although the Bruins’ current tandem has received criticism from fans, they each have had pretty solid seasons for the most part. Ullmark currently sports a 7-5-0 record, 2.52 goals-against average (GAA) and .922 save percentage, while Swayman has a 7-5-2 record with a 2.29 GAA and .917 save percentage. Even with this, however, it’s hard to truly be against bringing Rask back for extra insurance. The Bruins are currently 14-10-2 and fifth in the Atlantic Division so it hasn’t been the hottest of starts for them. With this, they need all the help they can get to take that next step, and bringing back the franchise’s all-time winningest goaltender is a good way to help with that.
It will be interesting to see how many of these wishes come true for the Bruins. If they all end up coming into fruition, they certainly would become a far more dangerous team. Seeing as how they want to win one more Stanley Cup during the Bergeron and Marchand era, they surely should be aggressive when it comes to making moves. As of right now, this isn’t a team built for a deep playoff run, and that ought to change.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks 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 NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.