By Andrew Thompson Twitter: @godwentwhoops
The Boston Bruins are already in trouble. The B’s find themselves near the bottom of the league with just 15 points earned in the 14 games they’ve played. It’s been a rough start for the B’s, and most signs point to more trouble in the future. The Bruins are doing all they can just to play .500 hockey.
Several factors have hurt the team.
Key injuries have hampered the team’s ability to score and play solid three-zone, two-way hockey. The B’s are racking up the number of games players have lost due to illness or injury. Bruins forward David Backes will likely be out until late January/early February due to his colon surgery. David Krejci and Adam McQuaid have both missed eight games this season due to various injuries.
Without players like Krejci and Backes, the B’s have had to push people up into top-six roles. Bruins forward Riley Nash has found himself working a lot on the B’s top two forward lines. A lot of the younger kids have found themselves playing on the big lines as well. This has led to some hits-and-misses and it certainly cost the B’s a game or two this year.
With the loss of players like Adam McQuaid, the B’s have a second problem that they haven’t been able to resolve so far. They’ve lost a serious level of snarl in their game. The younger, faster Bruins have found themselves out-muscled on several occasions this year. The B’s gave up several goals to the Rangers on Wednesday because they were out-muscled in front of the crease.
Finally, the 2017-18 Bruins are proving to be a mostly one-trick pony. The Bruins have put up 41 goals so far this season. That puts them in 25th place in the NHL. (The Bruins are tied in goals with the Arizona Coyotes, and if that doesn’t set off some alarms in your head, nothing will.) 48.78% of those goals have been scored by David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, or Patrice Bergeron. It’s great that the B’s top line has been producing, but the B’s haven’t had that much luck when it comes to heavy secondary scoring (last week’s game against the Wild was an exception), and that’s cost the B’s a game or two as well.
As fans, we howled for the youth movement to come to Boston. By and large, we got our wish. The Bruins have a lot of young players on the roster, and there have been (and will continue to be) growing pains with this year’s squad. At the start of the season, I had the B’s snagging a wild card slot in the playoffs. After these first 14 games, I’m pretty sure that won’t be happening unless there is a massive turnaround.
The Bruins do have a few bright spots in this season’s rough start. The B’s special teams have done an outstanding job for them so far. The Black and Gold’s power-play is currently sixth in the league (23.5%) The penalty kill is even better. The B’s have stopped a power-play goal 87.5% of the time, good enough for third overall in the league.
(For the Rask haters out there, the goalie is usually the best penalty killer a team can have on the ice. The B’s have missed some of their best natural PK players this season, while Rask’s 5-on-5 numbers haven’t been spectacular, a fair percentage of that is due to young blueliners learning on the job. The Rangers game showed the gaps in the B’s blueline and New York exploited them big time.)
Thanksgiving (US) is about two weeks away. That is the first benchmark of how a team is doing during the season. At the moment, the B’s are chasing the Ottawa Senators for the third spot in the Atlantic. With so many key players hurt, and so many young players getting a rough NHL education, we should get used to seeing the B’s on the outside looking in until Christmas time.