We are dropping the puck on our NHL season previews, starting with the Boston Bruins. The Boston Bruins saw another second round playoff exit in the 2020-2021. Poor defensive play and lack of scoring depth did them in against the New York Islanders. Some moves were made in free agency to attempt to solve some of those problems. Is it enough? Let’s break it all down.
According to Daily Faceoff, these are the current Boston lines:
First line – Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pasternak
Second line – Taylor Hall, Charlie Coyle, Craig Smith
Third line – Jake DeBrusk, Erik Haula, Nick Foligno
Fourth line – Trent Frederic, Tomas Nosek, Chris Wagner
We all know what the perfection line can do. It’s the other lines that the Bruins need to get more out of. With David Krejci gone, Coyle is the likely replacement as the second line center. Coyle played poorly, but was dealing with a fractured knee and torn patella tendon. The hope is that he can rebound and is now fully healthy. Retaining Taylor Hall was huge for that line as well as they saw an uptick in production with his arrival.
Haula and Foligno were two free agency additions. Foligno shots left and has played left wing and center. However, his versatility will allow him to move around. He also brings toughness and scoring prowess after putting 49 with Columbus and Toronto this past season. Haula adds tremendous speed and he can also play left wing. It’s a make or break year for Jake DeBrusk.
Nosek at center on the fourth line is an upgrade to Curtis Lazar. Frederic showed he is most comfortable at the left wing, and also became an enforcer. Wagner is a physical player known to finish his checks with authority, but he is not someone who scores a lot. If the line and score together, this could be a line who shuts top lines down and contributes to give the B’s top lines a break.
Defense really plagued the Bruins, especially in the playoffs. Here is what the current defensive pairings are:
Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy
Derek Forbort and Brandon Carlo
Mike Reilly and Connor Clifton
Goalies: Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman
Forbort came over in free agency from the Winnipeg Jets. He adds size, experience, and toughness. Reilly did well in the regular season and resigned on a three year deal after being traded from the Ottawa Senators. Carlo signed a monster six year extension to stick around, but it may hard cap the team moving forward. Carlo had a lot of injuries which the team hopes won’t become a trend. McAvoy is the best defensemen on the team and he will need to be locked up soon. Grzelcyk and Clifton have been very inconsistent.
With the uncertain future of Tuukka Rask, the Bruins signed Ullmark from the Buffalo Sabres to a four year contract. Jeremy Swayman is looking like he could be a great NHL goalie, and Ullmark was brought in to take the pressure off the second year pro and provide some mentorship. Swayman isn’t ready to be the fulltime option yet, and lately two netminders has been the way to go for most teams. Overall, the Boston Bruins feel they are in win now mode and believe the additions will help improve scoring and defensive play. With better options available that they passed on, we’ll see if buyers remorse kicks in as they try to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2011.
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