Photo Credit: MassLive
It’s March 7, 2018, and the Boston Bruins are 41-15-8.
I was very, very wrong about this team.
Back in October, I wrote about how it was already time to hit the panic button on this season. They were 2-3-0 through their first five games, they couldn’t string together consecutive regulation wins until November, and Tuukka Rask was playing nowhere near the level he’s at now.
One thing that really stuck out to me from my previous article was that I wrote, “the young studs are not living up to the expectations surrounding them.” At the time, they weren’t, but players like Jake DeBrusk, Charlie McAvoy, Danton Heinen and David Pastrnak are very much exceeding those expectations now. Between the four players listed above, the young studs have 56 goals, McAvoy is playing like a veteran in his rookie season, Heinen is quietly making a name for himself while DeBrusk and Pastrnak just continue to score and collect points each game.
Trust me, I am extremely happy to have been so terribly wrong about this team. I never expected them to be this good – especially during Bruce Cassidy’s first full year as head coach, all the youth on this team and a year where there was a lot of questions surrounding Rask after how he started early in the season. But something happened between then and now – maybe it was getting Patrice Bergeron and David Backes back into the lineup, or maybe it was just a matter of time until this team started clicking.
Whatever it was, it’s worked. I had little hope for the Bruins after their slow and sluggish start. But now I have hopes for a deep playoff run. They’ve added depth with Rick Nash, Nick Holden, and even Brian Gionta. Rask, despite his last five games, has been playing phenomenally. But what has been standing out to me a lot, besides the rookies being fantastic, is the “next man up” mentality this team has when a player goes down.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 7, 2018
Currently, this team is without Bergeron, McAvoy and Anders Bjork. Fortunately, Bergeron and McAvoy will be back this season, and they need McAvoy’s defense and Bergeron’s offense. But that gives opportunities for Holden, Nash, and Gionta to get more ice time, David Krejci to get more goals and Marchand to continue to step up and be the force on the ice this team needs.
We saw what this team is like without McAvoy and Bergy on Tuesday in their 6-5 overtime against Detroit. It was a game of the good, the bad and the ugly against a mediocre Red Wings team. But the team stepped up with two goals from Torey Krug, a natural hat trick from Marchand and some players dropping gloves. They are a completely different team – a team that is built for the playoffs. So when Bergeron, McAvoy, and Rask come back, this team will be even better because they will be at full health.
I was so very wrong about this team. But I am so pleased I was.