A highly successful yet extremely disappointing season is behind the Boston Bruins. Higher expectations, an increase in talent, and revenge in the air should be more than enough to get the fans excited for this upcoming Bruins season. However, these expectations are something this young team hasn’t experienced. The last time the Bruins were truly favored at the beginning of the year was in the 2014-15 season, and only eight players currently rostered on this years team were there back then. This Boston Bruins season preview will be unlike most in the past few years.
High Expectations is something this group isn’t necessarily used to. Sure the veterans like Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Zdeno Chara know what it’s like. But for many, this will be the first season starting with Stanley Cup level expectations. How will they handle it? Is this Bruins team poised for another cup run? Here is the Boston Bruins season preview for 2019.
Boston Bruins Season Preview
Top Six Will Look to Pick Up Where They Left Off
This is the first year in a while for the Bruins where new faces are sparse coming into the year. With zero notable losses and simple depth additions, there is no reason this team can repeat the run they had last year. In addition, those who somewhat disappeared in the Stanley Cup Final will be counted on more than ever.
It’s evident that this squad works well together, but repeating a run like last year is no easy task. I’d expect a dropoff from David Krejci this year. As Patrice Bergeron ages, you’re always waiting for the year he may take a plummet. A lot of the offense last year relied so much on that first line. When the first line didn’t perform, neither did the rest of the offense. Most of the time, that resulted in a loss. For this team to be successful, the Bruins have got to get legit productions from that second line. I think that comes in the form of Karson Kuhlman. The combo of Debrusk-Krejci-Kuhlman in the playoffs looked fantastic, and Kuhlman alone looked amazing as well. Kuhlman will have the minutes this year and after that it’s all about production.
Defense Looks Strong Throughout
The pairings on defense will remain nearly the same as last year. You’ll see Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy paired up top. Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo at the second paring with Matt Grzelcyk and Connor Clifton/Kevan Miller rounding out the top six.
Defensively, the Bruins have seemed to struggle on the backend in past years. Not necessarily during games, but staying on the ice was a huge problem last year. Out of the top six listed above, they missed a combined 132 games due to injury. That’s an average of roughly 20 games per player (if you include both Clifton and Miller). That can and will become a huge issue during the final few months of the season. The defense has the talent up top (and throughout) and it has the depth for a strong playoff run, but injuries and the ability to stay healthy will be a huge factor in this upcoming season.
Tuukka Rask has gotten a lot of hate since his unfortunate game 7 loss just a few months ago, but there is no arguing he’s been an elite goaltender for the past few years. He should continue this trend this season, hopefully ending a bit better than last year. You won’t find many goaltenders better than Rask and I think people need to realize that.
This may very well be the most well-rounded Bruins group we’ve seen in the past decade. The bottom six forwards will be rounded out with Charlie Coyle, Danton Heinen, and newly acquired Brett Ritchie making up the third line. David Backes, Sean Kuraly, and Chris Wagner will most likely round out the top 12.
Another player who may see time later in the season is Jack Studnicka. He has yet to play many games for the Providence Bruins but has been fantastic in the OHL playing for the Niagra Icedogs and Oshawa Generals. Last year he amassed 49 points in just 30 games for the Icedogs. He has the potential for a fantastic first season in Boston and in Providence. Studnicka was drafted 53rd overall in the 2017 draft and has shown great promise in Providence and the OHL.
The third line has the potential to arguably be the best third line in hockey. Two of those guys, Charlie Coyle and Danton Heinen, have both seen second-line minutes at some point in their career. They are both capable of playing in the top six, and if they can provide top-six scoring from the third line, it’ll take a lot of relief off of the top lines.
The fourth line will provide some much-needed physicality to this Bruins team. Chris Wagner finished 11th in hits this past season and David Backes throws his body around quite often as well. You won’t see much scoring from this line, but you’ll definitely feel their presence.
The defense rounds out very well in addition to the forwards. The Bruins have 3-4 viable defenseman that’ll be scratched that can fill in at any time. Most likely, those three defensemen will be Urho Vaakanainen, Kevan Miller, and John Moore. However, any of those three could be on the starting roster for opening night.
Urho Vaakanainen is one of the more promising Bruins in the system and he’ll hopefully get a shot to prove himself sometime this season. Miller and Moore are both established veterans in the league, and both sustained pretty serious injuries last season. Neither will most likely be ready for the start of the season, which means Vaakanainen could be the next man up for awhile.
Season Predictions and Boston Bruins Season Preview Wrap-up
The Bruins will once again compete for a top spot in a tough division that includes the Lightning and Maple Leafs. The Bruins finished second last year after beating the Maple Leafs out. I expect a similar finish this year, although I think the gap between the Bruins, Leafs, and Lightning will be a lot closer. I think 50-52 wins on the season is doable, and a top-two finish in the division is in their future. As for playoffs, it’ll be tough to repeat what the team did last year, simply for the poorly-created playoff bracket and the overall skill of the Eastern Conference. I’m not expecting this team to run through the playoffs like they did last year, but I expect them to compete with any team out there. They have the ability to bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston.
Combining elite talent with a ton of depth is a recipe for success. Not to mention they have an elite goalie in Rask behind them, so you’d like to think this team could do some damage once again. After last season’s finish, it’s gotta be cup or bust for the Bruins. There is no in-between. They couldn’t get the job done last year, so they should have no problem finding all the motivation in the world this year. It’ll be a fun season once again and one that is filled with emerging talent and some great Boston Bruins hockey.
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