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By: Mark Whitfield | Follow me on Twitter @olop86

While Bruins fans have been breathing a collective sigh of relief at the re-signing of Patrice Bergeron and celebrating the signings of David Krejci and Pavel Zacha, it is still way too early to be sizing up championship rings. Injuries to Charlie McAvoy and Brad Marchand, two of the Bruins’ major assets, will hamper the start of their 2022-23 campaign. Even when they return to the lineup, there are still questions over the lingering impact of the injuries.

Both players are expected to return to the lineup in December. While they’re away, the Bruin’s schedule is pretty tough, including a tilt with the returning champions, multiple games against the Lightning and Panthers, and two matchups against a Senators team that has made significant strides in the offseason. While a team cannot win the cup in December, it is entirely possible to lose it. However, even with the loss of two of their best players, the Bruins should have enough depth to avoid digging themselves into too deep of a hole to miss the playoffs.

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Starting with Marchand, he will be a significant loss during the first couple of months of the season and one that the Bruins will really feel. His consistent offensive production (80 points in 70 games last year and a +/- of +16) only tells part of the story. It sounds cliched, but he really is one of those players you love if he is on your team and hate if he isn’t. He gets his team fired up, constantly harries opposing teams, and always puts himself in places other players aren’t willing to go to make plays. These intangibles are what the Bruins will miss the most and will hopefully not be lost when he is cleared to play.

Only time will tell whether he can get back to the Marchand we know and love when he returns from his surgery. There are, of course, concerns that this is the same surgery that Tuukka Rask had that ultimately led to his retirement. The optimist in me says that this means little, given the difference between the physical demands of playing goalie and wing. The pessimist reminds me that Tuukka only had surgery on one hip. That said, if you can say one thing about Marchand, he is a very determined man who will continue to work hard to overcome any difficulties. So overall, I am not feeling too concerned about his long-term prospects.

The loss of Charlie McAvoy is, arguably, more concerning. While Marchand brings a lot to the table in terms of production and intangibles, a significant chunk of the loss of scoring will be picked up with the signing of Krejci and Zacha. McAvoy’s injury leaves a big hole in the B’s defense, with nobody close to playing at the same level. While the Bruins’ goalie situation is good, the fewer shots they have to stop, the better.

When McAvoy does make it back, there will be some concerns about re-injury risks. Shoulder injuries can be problematic, particularly for a guy who isn’t the biggest defenseman playing in a very physical league. I will be closing my eyes for the first couple of hits he makes. However, he has come back from injury before, and I am sure that both McAvoy and the Bruins will wait until they are confident that the shoulder is ready to take hits before getting back on the ice.

Once both are back on the ice, that isn’t the end. Players often talk about how hard the first game is back, and McAvoy and Marchand will be playing catch-up against players with three months of game time and game fitness under their belts. No amount of conditioning will be able to make up that gap in January, but both players will be significantly fresher than their opponents and will be hitting prime fitness at the start of the playoffs. That might be the silver lining that B’s fans are looking for.