By: Joe Travia | Follow Me On Twitter @NHLJoeTravia
The picture is starting to become a little bit more clear for the 2022-2023 Boston Bruins. General Manager Don Sweeney was extended. Jim Montgomery was hired to replace the fired Bruce Cassidy. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci both decided to return to the Bruins and signed one-year deals. The newly acquired Pavel Zacha was also signed to a one-year deal.
Last week, I focused on three “hot takes” of a positive nature that the Bruins organization and their fans would be ecstatic to see happen. As we all know, however, things rarely ever go according to plan in the National Hockey League. Here are three negative hot takes for the Bruins 2022-2023 season.
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- The Bruins struggle to adapt to Jim Montgomery’s system
- The Bruins and Bruce Cassidy were almost a perfect match. Cassidy’s defensive zone system provided a level of structure that led to the Bruins being one of the best defensive teams in the league during his tenure. The biggest critique of Cassidy’s system, and the likely reason why Cam Neely and Don Sweeney decided to move on from him, was that the offensive philosophy made it difficult to generate scoring chances at five-on-five.
- With Montgomery taking over behind the bench, the hope from the Bruins front office is that he will allow some more offensive creativity that leads to a higher scoring output. I actually think that idea will be successful. My concern is in the defensive zone. Even with offensive numbers ticking up under Montgomery, the Bruins will still need to remain among the league’s best in goals against if they want to be a serious contender. I expect there to be some early-season struggles.
- Father Time catches up to Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci
- Bruins Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief last Monday when Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci signed one-year, incentive-laden deals to return to the team without making the team’s salary cap situation more complicated. On the face, this was terrific news. The Bruins were without any top-six centers and are short on talented center prospects ready to be regular contributors at the NHL level.
- Bergeron is still amongst the leagues best, coming off a season where he scored 65 points and won another Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL. Though Krejci is a bit more of a question mark due to playing last season outside the NHL in the Czech Republic, his play at the World Championships showed he could still use his playmaking skills to produce against NHL-level talent. The worry, for me, is age. Bergeron is 37 and had an off-season elbow surgery. Krejci is 36 and returning to the NHL after a year off. There is a real possibility that one or both lose and step and struggle to produce like top-six centers. It would be a death knell to the Bruins season.
- Early season injuries leave the Bruins in a hole they can’t dig themselves out of
- Of these three takes, this one is the most likely to come true. It is also the scariest. With number one defenseman Charlie McAvoy, top left-winger Brad Marchand, and top-four defenseman Matt Grzelcyk all expected to miss the first 20 or so games in the season recovering from various surgeries, the Bruins will need to do their best to tread water while awaiting their returns.
- My worry is that the season will be similar to last year’s New York Islanders, a team that was hit hard by injury and COVID-related absences. The wheels fell off quickly, and by the time they were back at full strength, it was too late. With Atlantic Division teams like Detroit and Ottawa significantly improving in the off-season, the Bruins can’t afford to fall too far behind in the early going. If they do, their streak of six straight years in the playoffs could be in serious jeopardy.
The upcoming 2022-2023 season is the most intrigued I have been about the Boston Bruins in a long time. While it is easy to see them returning to legitimate contender status, the above scenarios are very possible and could leave them out of the playoffs. As a Bruins fan, I hope these “hot takes” go 0/3.