When the season started, everything looked so bright for the Boston Bruins. I mean after all they are the defending Eastern Conference champions and pretty much have the same core intact. The Bruins looked to be the team to beat and make a return trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, but after one month of play, the Bruins look, well, average.
On a Bruins team that has this kind of talent and the success they had last season, average just isn’t going to cut it. The Bruins have lost three of their last four, the one win was a comeback victory against the Anaheim Ducks and that was a poor showing by Boston. They are losing in pretty terrible ways, too. In their loss to the Devils, the team committed two very late penalties that led to two Devils goals. In fact, every Devils goal in that game came by way of the power play.
For a team that started so well, the wheels are starting to come off, but why? It’s still very early, but the Bruins have some problems they address if they want to rebound.
Brad Marchand needs to absolutely play better. He has been demoted to the third line due to his poor play but has recently found his way back to the second line due to Loui Eriksson’s concussion. Marchand lost a defensive zone face-off against the Islanders on Saturday night that led to a goal in the team’s 3-1 loss. Marchand really hasn’t played well all season, including training camp. The Bruins were hoping he just shaking the rust off during camp, but he still has not found his game yet and it is costing the Bruins dearly.
Marchand was arguably the team’s best player last season, leading the team in goals with 18 and giving the team an energy boost. He needs to somehow find that spark once again if the Bruins want to compete for the Stanley Cup. They just can’t afford to have Marchand being sluggish all season long.
The Bruins offense has gotten pretty stagnant as well. Boston is ranked towards the bottom of the league with only 2.69 goals per game. Normally, that would garner a team a losing record, but fortunately for the Bruins, they have one of the best goaltenders in the NHL in Tuukka Rask.
Dougie Hamilton at times still plays like a rookie and that can be frustrating to watch. In the Islanders game, he made a crucial error that led to an odd man rush goal for New York. In that same game, Hamilton scored a power play goal, so, you never know what Dougie Hamilton you are going to get and that can get frustrating.
After a quick start, Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron have all but vanished from the Bruins offense. Kelly has had a -2 ratings in his last five games and Caron has found his way out of the lineup missing the last two games. The Bruins have called up Ryan Spooner to give the more speed and had a spark to an otherwise dim Bruins team.
The only ones carrying the Bruins so far seem to be the line of Lucic-Bergeron-Iginla and the stellar play of Tuukka Rask, but they cannot carry this team forever. The offense needs to find it’s legs again and Chad Johnson needs to prove he’s more than capable to take some of the pressure off of Rask and give him some rest every now and then.
It’s way, way too early to write the Bruins off, in fact the team still looks like a playoff team, but not the team they are expected to be. If there’s something Boston sports fans are, it’s a panicky bunch, but there’s not reason to punch the panic button… yet.
What do you think of the Bruins thus far? Comment below or send me a Tweet, @MarkWGraham