(Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports)

By: Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter / X @adbblue

Since returning from the All-Star break, the Boston Bruins have struggled in many areas. They only have one regulation win in that span, and besides that game, a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks they have allowed at least three goals in every tilt. In their last nine games, they do not have a regulation victory.

The team’s defensive play has regressed from earlier in the season, and it’s been a large reason for their recent skid. Holding leads and closing out games has become a huge issue. They’re overcomplicating things defensively and need to simplify their game. 

A big problem since the all-star break has been turning the puck over, especially on their own end. This has led to them playing accumulated time in the defensive zone, especially in the third player. Too often, defensemen have tried to force passes that aren’t there instead of taking the simple play or just chipping the puck out. This has resulted in them being worn down, and it’s obvious when they run out of gas.

Another problem that’s been prevalent is forwards getting lost in coverage or not staying with their guy when the opposition has possession. This has also led to goals against that the goaltenders can’t do anything about due to the high quality of the scoring chances. There’s too much puck-watching when the play is around the front of the Bruins’ net. Too many times, they’ve been caught lacking numbers the other way due to forwards not covering for a defenseman. Furthermore, there have been too many defensive zone face-offs. If this doesn’t get cleaned up, their postseason will be short-lived.

They can resolve these tendencies just by simplifying their defensive game. Making clean outlet passes, being in the right spots, not pinching when they shouldn’t, keeping the puck to the perimeter. At the beginning of the season, the Bruins did a superb job at keeping their opponents to the outside with the puck. That made it difficult for teams to make cross-ice passes and work the puck to the middle, limiting high-danger chances. Hampus Lindholm is now on Injured Reserve, so the blueline, most notably Brandon Carlo and Charlie MacAvoy, are going to have to shift their game to a higher gear. Among the forwards, players who are notable defensive forwards like Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle, Pavel Zacha, and Brad Marchand need to revert to their roles seen earlier this season.

With only 22 games remaining, they are running out of time to fix their recent defensive slump. It’s important to be playing your best hockey going into the playoffs and build some consistency. There’s just over a quarter remaining in the regular season, and it presents a great opportunity to revert back to how they started. If they are able to do that, they will be a tough out and difficult to score on. Arguably, having the best goaltending tandem in the league is a big luxury in achieving this, and they’ve been pulling their weight. It’s time for the rest of the team to do the same again.