The Boston Bruins 2021-22 season certainly didn’t get off to a great start. They managed to hang around the middle of the Atlantic Division for the majority of the first two months of the season, but appeared to be headed for a lower playoff seed than they had previously been accustomed to.
But then a COVID outbreak around the entire NHL resulted in the league being shutdown for a couple of weeks, giving the Bruins time to rest and recuperate. Boston actually had a couple of games affected by COVID before the league pressed pause on the season, and they ended up having six straight games get postponed. But ever since they have returned to the ice, the Bruins have been on fire.
Boston has won five of their six games since they returned to action, and they are winning in dominant fashion. The offense is generating a ton of goals, the defense is keeping opposing teams at bay, and when they do get through, either Linus Ullmark or Jeremy Swayman are keeping pucks out of the net. It’s been a complete 180 from how the team started the season off.
Many people have already left the Bruins for dead, and probably for good reason. Important pieces of the glory days, such as Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, have already left for greener pastures. But the Boston Bruins still have a ton of talent, and if they continue their winning ways, the rest of the league may want to watch out.
The Boston Bruins aren’t done just yet
Regardless of the sport, fans are always anxious to jump the gun and declare top teams as “dead” before they actually are. We saw it for years with the New England Patriots. And now the Bruins appear to have taken their place.
To be fair, there is good reason to assume the Bruins championship window is closed. As previously mentioned, some big names have departed recently, and the replacements brought in haven’t exactly filled their shoes. Plus this team has struggled in the playoffs ever since they fell short of the Stanley Cup back in 2019. And they certainly haven’t been that impressive to start this season.
But it always seemed a bit foolish to completely count out Boston this soon. There’s still a ton of talent on this team, headlined by Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Charlie McAvoy. You aren’t going to be able to keep a squad like that quiet for a full season.
And it seems like the team is finally figuring out how to take things to the next level. They returned from their six game hiatus and have been wreaking havoc on their opponents. They have scored at least four goals in five of their last six games, and have generally blown their opponents out of the water.
They have put away low-lying teams such as the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils, but they have recently pulled off some very impressive wins against high quality opponents. They tore apart the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 before doing the same to the Washington Capitals by a score of 7-3. Marchand and David Pastrnak both scored a pair of goals in both of these games.
Speaking of which, that leads us to one of the keys to this recent stretch of solid play for the Boston Bruins. Head coach Bruce Cassidy opted to drop Pastrnak to the second line and move Craig Smith up to the top line to try to wake up Pastrnak, who had been quite quiet to start the season. Pastrnak has responded quite resoundingly to the move, and has scored five goals over his last four games.
Overall, the offense is ticking like they had been expected to coming into the season. Pastrnak is finally finding the back of the net, and Marchand continues to dominate in just about every offensive category possible. Bergeron is still as good as ever, and with other guys like Smith and Taylor Hall chipping in, you have the makings of a pretty solid top two lines.
Defensively, things are still a bit of a work in progress. The top two lines are solid, and it was certainly great to see McAvoy return to the ice after missing the previous two games, but the third line still is being patched together. Adding another defender later on in the season may be in the cards for this squad.
And between the posts, Ullmark and Swayman remain a pretty solid pairing. They also have a bit more to play for now with Tuukka Rask recently returning to the team, but as long as they keep playing well, there’s no reason to take them out of the lineup. But if Rask is good to go, he would offer a clear upgrade over both of these guys.
So while many have rushed to pronounce the Bruins as a dead team, don’t get your hopes up too soon. There’s still a ton of talent on this roster, and while they may not be de facto Stanley Cup contenders, anything can happen once you reach the playoffs. The Boston Bruins have finally gotten in a bit a rhythm, and with a seven game homestand coming up, they could be on the cusp of putting together a huge run.