The Boston Bruins were the NHL’s top club during 2019-2020 season. When the season was paused due to the COVID pandemic, the Bruins had a 44-14-12 record for 100 points to capture the Presidents Trophy. They then defeated the Carolina Hurricanes before losing to the Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the playoffs. With their window as a contender starting to close, Our Boston Bruins Preview 2021 looks to see whether they are in a position to win the Cup this season.
Boston Bruins Preview 2021 – Forwards
While the Bruins boast arguably the top line in the NHL, they will be without a third of it for the start of the 2021 season. David Pastrnak, who finished tied for the league lead in goals last season, underwent hip surgery which will put him out of the lineup until at least February. A positive note which should keep the Bruins in contention for a playoff spot is that Brad Marchand is projected to be available at the start of the season.
Marchand underwent surgery this offseason as well and was projected to miss the beginning of the year. The left winger had 28 goals and 59 assists in 70 games last season. The top line will be centered by Patrice Bergeon who has maintained his reign as one of the top two-way forwards in hockey. He had 56 points, including 31 goals last season while boasting a +23 plus-minus. Boston’s top line will be a threat whenever they are on the ice and help make the Bruins a playoff caliber team.
Bruins Are Deep
Another strength of the Bruins is their depth at center. David Krejci and Charlie Coyle will center the second and third lines, giving Boston a very dynamic basis for their middle-six forward group. They finished with 43 and 37 points respectively last season. The club’s second line will feature Jake Debrusk and Ondrej Kase on Krejci’s wings. DeBrusk finished with 19 goals in 65 games. While it is a stark decrease in his rate of production the year prior (27 goals in 68 games), The young forward likely still would have finished with around 25 goals. Kase played a total of 17 regular season and playoff contests with Boston last year. He had just 5 assists in that span but has legitimate top-six talent and should develop more chemistry with Krejci and DeBrusk in 2021.
The Bruins only impactful addition this offseason came with their signing of winger Craig Smith. Smith will likely play a third line role but could also slide up in the lineup if needed. Smith is a defensively responsible forward that has the capability to provide some secondary scoring. Overall the addition is a good pick up, although it is not the big free agent splash that could have taken the Bruins to another level. Our Boston Bruins 2021 Preview sees the team’s forward corps as being incredibly deep. They can play at both ends of the ice and should keep the Bruins’ goal production at a solid level.
The Bruins’ D-corps took some big hits this offseason. The loss came when the club parted ways with Torey Krug via free agency. Krug is one of the premier offensive defensemen in the NHL and played an instrumental role on Boston’s backend. The Bruins had the league’s second best powerplay clicking at a 25.2 percent rate. This will very likely decrease without Krug quarterbacking their powerplay. They will look towards Matt Grzelcyk to fill this hole, although he will likely be less productive than Krug. Grzelcyk had 21 points in the 2019-2020 season.
The Bruins also allowed Zdeno Chara to walk this offseason. While he was well past his prime, the Bruins Captain still played a sizable role. He finished with the second most ice time on the team as well as the best plus-minus rating. The Bruins have said that they want to try some younger defensemen in his place, which could lead to some defensive lapses before they find a good fit.
Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo will be the team’s workhorses on the backend with Krug and Chara’s departures. McAvoy played more than any other Bruins last year averaging 23:10 minutes per game. He also managed 32 points. Carlo has blossomed into a very solid defensive D-man and will be used in many situations similar to Chara. He will need to take a bigger role on the penalty kill this season. If he does, this will keep Boston’s PK as effective as it was last year (84.3 percent). On the backend the Bruins lost some big pieces. They have plenty of solid young defensemen. However, they will likely have some issues while they work out how they will replace Krug and Chara.
The Bruins allowed the least goals of any team last season. Their goaltending tandem of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak is a major reason why they were so successful at stymieing opponents. Rask finished second in save percentage (.929 percent) and first in goals against average (2.12 GAA) over the course of the 2019-2020 season. Halak finished sixth in goals against average allowing 2.39 per game. While his .919 save percentage fell outside of the top-ten marks in the league, it is a very respectable number and on par with many of the elite netminders. Boston has two extremely reliable goaltenders and arguably the best tandem in the league. It is going to be crucial to have goalies who can split games in such a condensed season. The Bruins look to be in one of the best positions to do this.
Boston Bruins Preview 2021: Outlook
Our Boston Bruins Preview 2021 expects the club to be very solid despite losing a couple key players on the blueline. The Marchand-Bergeon-Pastrnak line continues to be arguably the most efficient line in the NHL. On top of this, they have very solid center depth. Plus, they possibly possess the best goaltending tandem in the league. The Bruins are definitely a playoff caliber team. Expect them to finish as one of the top four teams in the East Division.
Boston Bruins Preview 2021: Prediction
Record: 29-17-10, 68 points
Finish: 3rd in the East Division