(Photo Credit: Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On X (Formerly Twitter) @adbblue

The Boston Bruins started their centennial season white hot. But, recently, the team has slowed down a bit and dealt with some injuries in the process. The injury bug has affected the team all season but was not as impactful as now.  

Last year’s team had as close to a perfect campaign as possible, breaking the NHL regular season wins and points record. They hardly had to handle any adversity, if at all, and once they did in the playoffs, they couldn’t get over it. 

Boston is now 26 games into the 2023-24 season, and they have already faced more adversity than they did at any point combined last year. But in retrospect, that’s probably a good thing. Dealing with any bumps in the road can help teams learn lessons, allowing them to know how to respond later down the line. 

Arguably, the adversity started even before the season after their two top centers, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, retired. Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle have stepped up big time, doing an outstanding job of filling those guy’s shoes. But with Zacha now day-to-day and being ruled out Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins are a bit thin at the center position.

Especially with the recent benchings of rookies Matt Poitras and John Beecher, it’s clear both guys are still getting used to the heavy NHL schedule. However, this is a great opportunity for the two young guns to step up and respond to their own adversity. The same goes for rookie defenseman Mason Lohrei. The 2020 second-round pick was recalled from Providence after Derek Forbort was placed on LTIR, and Charlie McAvoy is day-to-day. 

McAvoy has already missed four games this season. He was suspended for a hit to the head on Florida Panthers defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson back on October 30th. Boston had a record of 3-1 in those four games without their top defenseman. So, this is another opportunity to get used to being without him for at least one game, as he’s already been ruled out Wednesday night against New Jersey. 

Perhaps the most important lesson they’ve learned this season was their recent three-game losing streak. It was a reminder that an 82-game season is long, and it’s hard to win games in the NHL. Going through the adversity of losing three straight in regulation makes players realize you can’t take teams for granted.

Not only did they lose three straight, they allowed at least five goals in each game for the first time since the 2011-12 season. They were also statistically the best defensive team in the league before that losing skid. It’s a good wake-up call to have and an opportunity to understand you can’t just cruise through the season. 

It’s definitely important the Bruins deal with all kinds of adversity, as it builds the core within any team. The lessons are good for the final stretch and push to the playoffs. As history has shown, teams who go on long playoff runs often deal with tough points and situations during the regular season.