By: Lauren Spencer | Follow Me on Twitter: @laurenspenc
This year, the Bruins had a record-breaking regular season and looked like prime candidates to go far into the playoffs. Unfortunately, this did not happen, and the Bruins ended the season on a low note.
Next season, the Bruins will begin again with the same goal and need to make some changes to go further. Based on this season, here are some areas that members of the team (and coaching staff) can make improvements.
David Pastrnak had an incredible season, culminating in his nomination for the Hart Trophy. No one can deny that this team would have been as successful without him, and the Bruins are lucky to have locked him up for the next eight years. His offense was great, scoring sixty-one goals, but he struggled with turning the puck over. He led the league in turnovers, accounting for one hundred and nine on the season.
When you look back on the Bruins first-round series, one of the places that they struggled was with turnovers. Pastrnak was hardly the only one with trouble in that area, but he did play a significant role. Pastrnak should try to improve in this area for next season to become a more well-rounded player and a better defensive forward. With the potential loss of Patrice Bergeron next year, these improvements will be necessary.
AJ Greer was a strong fixture on the fourth line throughout this season. He’s very tough and unafraid to get into the mix. Unfortunately, this led to him spending a lot of time in the penalty box. Greer had one hundred and fourteen penalty minutes in sixty-one games played, forty more minutes than the next closest player. Some of these penalties were typical mistakes in hockey, but others were avoidable.
In a February game against the Maple Leafs, Greer scored a goal and then immediately started fighting with Wayne Simmonds on the next face-off. The fight did not go well for Greer and seemed to take away some of his momentum after scoring a goal. Greer was also suspended during the season after a cross-check to the face of Mike Hoffman. This penalty was extremely avoidable and one that Greer should not have committed. Next season, Greer needs to think before he acts because the penalty kill may not be as effective as it was this season.
Watching the Bruins series against the Panthers, it would be fair to say that Brandon Carlo was the best defenseman in black and gold. He had four assists (and one goal disallowed as the result of a hand pass) and ended the series with a +2 rating. After his strong series, he must bring more confidence to the ice in the coming season.
He is huge in size, 6’6”, 218-pounds, and can be a difference-maker when on his game. In the post-elimination press conferences, Sweeney emphasized that he was one member of the defensive core that the Bruins were sticking with. As one of the longest-tenured players on the team, he can be a leader for the younger players that will likely get the call-up next season. Carlo should take the confidence that others have in him and find it within himself for next season.
While not a player, head coach Jim Montgomery has areas he needs to improve on before next season. In this record-breaking year, he had a few missteps, but the ones he did make were costly. What stands out the most was the final game of the season in which Patrice Bergeron played, despite it being a meaningless game. People had different theories as to why Bergeron was so adamant about playing, but Montgomery confirmed at the end of the season that Bergeron was the one who insisted he was in the lineup.
After getting hurt in the first period, Bergeron then missed the first four games of the playoffs and was said to have a “debilitating” herniated disc in his back. Next season, Montgomery should be firmer with the players in the locker room, making the final decisions with long-term goals in mind. Even as respected as Bergeron is, he can be overruled by the head coach. Next season, Montgomery should build on his strong connection with the players but know when he needs to push back and be firmer with judgments.