The Boston Bruins are off to a rocky start this season. The team is currently 2 and 4, which has caused some concern already. Starting the season off with a 2-1 win against the Flyers, the team has suffered a 4-0 shut against the Washington Capitals, and 6-4 loss against bitter rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Social media has been buzzing about the Bruins’ sluggish start with comments ranging from the irrational “fire everyone” to “everything’s fine.” Amongst all of the worry about the season, the most level headed response has come from TSN’s Bob Mackenzie, who had this to say about the Bruins this year, “While I’m not convinced they are better than previous years, I can’t imagine they’re as bad as they have looked.”
Coming off a second round playoff loss to division rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, last season, the Bruins’ off-season was fairly quiet. They notably lost veteran Jerome Iginla and parted ways with enforcer Shawn Thornton. The team signed forward Simon Gagne in training camp. Most of the additions came from within organization, calling up Matt Fraser, Ryan Spooner, and Seth Griffith. They’ve also promoted defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller to larger roles after trading Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders right before the start of the season. It wasn’t the kind of off-season that made fans jump for joy, nonetheless they didn’t lose too much. While Iginla’s scoring touch and Boychuk’s set up ability will be missed, the team got younger and faster.
Plenty of teams start the season slow, that’s normal. However, what makes this slow start worrying is the quality of competition within the Atlantic Division. Montreal, Ottawa, and Tampa Bay all have come out strong early in the season. The Bruins aren’t going to be handed the keys to the division this year. Their competition is very real and because of that they’re going to have to buckle down.
The first thing the Bruins need this year if they’re looking to go anywhere, is consistency in net. Tukka Rask won the Venzina for best goaltender last year. He definitely deserved it, but this year even more than last, with a young defense he is going to have be a more consistent player. Each game is going to have to be fantastic on his part. The second thing the Bruins need to do is be wary of falling into a high tempo run and gun style game. The team can’t play games with a lot of scoring and no defense; they aren’t built for that. The Bruins are built for games where the winning team at most scores three goals. They frankly don’t have the offense to get in a shoot-out with teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins or New York Islanders.
Finally, the team is gong to have to maintain composure. There’s a reason people call them the “big bad Bruins” and it’s because they’re a tough team, which is ideal. However, this just means they’re going to get a lot of penalties this season and they’ll have to be wary of getting penalized for stupid mistakes. For instance, Milan Lucic was fined for an alleged obscene gesture at Canadiens fans, but more worryingly was ejected from the game for yelling at a referee. The Bruins can’t afford slip-ups like this, especially not from Milan Lucic, a veteran.
In all likeliness, the Bruins will be fine since they have a veteran team and a phenomenal goaltender. It’s a long season and losing four out of 82 isn’t much to worry about. Most coaches will tell you they’d rather get the losing out early than late. However, the Bruins have to be careful and play smart hockey as they move on into the rest of their season.