By: BNG Staff | Follow Us On Twitter @BlackNGoldPod
It takes more than a global pandemic to prevent the NHL season from kicking off. However, it still has had its impacts, from ill players, lockdown measures, a reduction in games, and the drop-in training sessions. With all that happening behind the scenes, other NHL teams are still focusing on delivering great games and fighting their way towards Stanley Cup and league success. For the Boston Bruins, though, 2021 is an interesting start to the season, but with new hurdles to face, including fresh postponements, are the odds against them?
Preparing For 2021
Before the season began, the Boston Bruins, like all the other NHL teams, were still feeling the effects of the pandemic. Yet for the Bruins, when they returned after lockdowns, they did so without David Pastrnak, their top scorer. Add to this the fact that teams were forced to cancel, reschedule, or quarantine, as well as the shortening to a 56-game schedule, a lot of things were up in the air. But like other sports around the world, the Bruins just cracked on.
They had to do it without giant defenseman Zdeno Chara who left after his one-year contract was up. While it’s sad to see the captain go, his hand-picked successor, Patrice Bergeron, is more than up for the task and has led the Bruins to victory during the beginning of the 2021 season.
We’ve also seen 33-year-old Tuukka Rask back as the starting goaltender. On a career-high during the 2020 season, the pandemic cut this short, and he’s back for the Bruins after family issues. Younger players, such as Jack Studnicka and Jeremy Lauzon, are standing in for the retired and injured veterans, so it was an exciting start to 2021 with some fresh exuberance in the team.
What’s Been Going On?
On paper, it looked like the perfect squad and tactics for 2021. And on the ice, it started that way, too, when they opened 10-2-1 and seemed to be well on the way to a playoff spot. Things were picking up even more so after posting a record 4-6-2 and are now sitting just one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers.
It’s also put them five points behind the top three teams in the East Division. According to the latest NHL odds, the Bruins are -490 to make the playoffs and +350 to win the East Division. But is it too early to bet on this success?
The Bruins definitely have been at the top of their game, and it’s no wonder that all bets are on them coming up trumps this season. But right now, there are still things to keep a watch on and make sure they don’t fall down a slippery slope that would cause detriment to their run of success. In mid-season, the Bruins have already shown that the defensive players are doing a sterling job despite the loss of their veterans.
The forwards are doing their best, but as general manager Don Sweeney explained: “The 5-on-5 offense is not where it needs to be, and scoring – specifically depth scoring – is a major concern.” Obviously, without the top-scoring, the Bruins aren’t going to be snowballing their way to any finals. They’re 27th in scoring goals at 5-on-5 this season, and while they’re comfortably sitting in fourth place, they should (and could) be doing better.
After their defeat by the Rangers, it’d be easy to avoid going harsh on the team. But as one of the best coaches in the NHL, Bruce Cassidy didn’t rest on his laurels and was first to call out his team’s poor efforts. This type of mentality helps to address the team’s bad parts and focus on them, and in Cassidy, the Bruins should have the motivation to succeed, even amidst these blips. But it doesn’t help that these so-called blips could be down to a new team that’s still trying to form together.
The alternate captain, Brad Marchand, is helping to carry the team, with 33 points in 26 games. Backing from his coach, putting him forward for the Hart Trophy for league MVP is the kind of motivation the team needs. And even the lackluster players, like Jake DeBrusk, who has been a popular target for fans, have found the motivation he needs by responding with a goal on his return.
So, despite the previous veteran-led team now featuring a mixture of old and new players, there’s a supportive coach and the drive to thrive. Especially when all bets are on them taking away trophies, let’s hope this mid-season slump is a minor thing, and they’ll be back skating to success.