Boston Bruins 2019-20 season preview


      Over the course of an 82 game NHL season (and more including playoffs), a team is bound to a have a bad game. For the Boston Bruins, it happened at the worst time. Game seven of the Stanley Cup finals saw the Bruins get dominated at home by the Blues, as Boston lost their second Cup final of the decade, but at least they won one. On the bright side, they tied for second in the NHL, they had a lethal power play throughout the regular season and postseason, and each member of their first line was well over a point per game, even missing a lot of time. While they aren\’t the youngest team, and they have cap issues, the Bruins are still in a very good position.

       Additions: Brett Ritchie, Par Lindholm, Maxime Legace, Brendan Gaunce

       Subtractions: Marcus Johansson, Noel Acciari, Gemel Smith, Zane McIntyre

Probably the second best line in all of hockey, the Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak line each scored 30 goals, and combined for 260 points in 210 games, or 1.24 points per game. For perspective, the leading scorer in 2018-19, Nikita Kucherov, scored 1.56 points per game. While Bergeron will be 34 and Marchand 31, Pastrnak is just 23, and all three are signed for at least three more seasons each at a steal of a cap hit under $7 million. Second line center David Krejci chipped in for 53 assists, plus 20 goals, making his $7.25 million cap hit worth it. The infamous 2015 draft had many superstars, and while the Bruins had three consecutive picks in the middle of the first round, and missed on two of them, Jake DeBrusk did score 27 goals, a career high. Charlie Coyle was acquired in a February trade, and while he was terrible in the regular season, with six points in 21 games post trade, he became a post season hero, with nine goals and seven assists in 24 games. He can center or play right wing. Danton Heinen took a step back, but 11 goals and 34 points isn\’t terrible third line production. The David Backes contract is a disaster. Backes was a healthy scratch in the final two games of the Stanley Cup final, and had just seven goals and 13 assists in 70 regular season games. Karson Kuhlman, who replaced Backes in those final two games, had five points in 11 regular season games, then had three points in eight playoff games. The Bruins\’ fourth line was strong in the playoffs, lead by Sean Kuraly, who had a career high 21 points, including 10 more in the playoffs. In his first year as a Bruin, Joakim Nordstrom scored seven goals, and three more in the postseason. He was also a big part of their penalty kill. While the final member of that line, Noel Acciari, left for Florida, Brett Ritchie replaces him. Ritchie scored 16 goals in 2016-17, but had been passed over in Dallas the last two years. Chris Wagner was hurt in the playoffs, but had a career high 12 goals and 19 points. Par Lindholm is extra insurance, though the Bruins don\’t need it.

Captain Zdeno Chara is back for another season. He is now 42, but still playing top minutes. He averaged 21:05 minutes a game, plus 3:02 on the penalty kill. If it is Big Z\’s last season, he\’ll be a first ballot hall of famer. Chara\’s partner, Charlie McAvoy, became Boston\’s best defenseman, leading them in average ice time (22:10), while scoring 28 points in just 54 games. He is currently an RFA, so it will be interesting to see how much money he gets. Another current RFA, Brandon Carlo, only had 10 points, but averaged nearly 21 minutes a night, and was tied with Chara for second on the team with a +22 rating. Torey Krug is a UFA after the season, and the team will want to lock him up. He had a career high 47 assists in 2018-19. Matt Grzelcyk missed time in the Cup finals due to a concussion, but he had a second consecutive solid season, with 18 points, getting more than a two minute jump in ice time. Connor Clifton had just one point in 19 regular season games, but earned the trust in head coach Bruce Cassidy in the playoffs, playing in 18 games, and scored his first two NHL goals. Kevan Miller had a very unlucky season, dealing with multiple injuries that saw him miss the entire postseason. He\’s now likely been passed over by Clifton. John Moore signed a questionable five year deal in the offseason, dealt with injuries, and was a healthy scratch in multiple playoff games. He\’s the 8th defenseman. Steven Kampfer had his highest goal total since his rookie season, but he\’s far back in the depth chart on a healthy team.

Tuukka Rask is now 32, and has been very inconsistent. The former Vezina winner had a .912 SV% and 2.48 GAA in the regular season, but was sensational in the playoffs, with a .934 SV% and a 2.02 GAA. In 89 playoff games, he has a .927 SV% and a 2.19 GAA, but hasn\’t won a Stanley Cup as a starter (he was Tim Thomas\’ backup when they won in 2011). Jaroslav Halak enjoyed a nice bounce back season, adapting to life as a backup. He had a .922 SV% and 2.34 GAA.

             Deep Depths
Paul Carey started the season by playing five games for the Senators, then finished it playing two more for the Bruins. For the AHL Providence Bruins, he scored 22 goals in 30 games. Anton Blidh had another mediocre AHL season, as he has fallen on the depth chart. Maxime Legace enters as the third goalie.

              Up and Coming
The Bruins have ton of young players ready for NHL action by 2020-21. Anders Bjork entered the season eyeing a starting role, but he struggled in 20 NHL games, and injuries cost him a season, and a place on the depth chart. Former first rounder Trent Frederic was gifted a 15 game cameo, and while he averaged a penalty minute a game, he was  -4 and failed to get his first NHL point. Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson had nine points in 28 NHL games, but he\’s not in line for an NHL job. Part of that 2015 bust of a Bruins draft class, Zach Senyshyn scored his first NHL goal in a two game season, but hasn\’t even scored 15 goals in two AHL seasons. Jack Studnicka goes to the AHL after scoring 24 goals in 30 OHL games. Top prospect Urho Vaakanainen made his NHL debut, and was decent in 30 AHL games. The last Bruins\’ first rounder in 2015, Jakub Zboril debuted, but hasn\’t been able to get past four goals and 15 assists in two AHL seasons.

                2019 draft class

Round 1, 30th overall: John Beecher
Round 3, 92nd overall: Quinn Olson
Round 5, 154th overall: Roman Bychkov
Round 6, 185th overall: Matias Mantykivi
Round 7, 192nd overall: Jake Schmaltz

Bruce Cassidy has received Jack Adams consideration the past two seasons, and unless the Bruins endure a terrible season, he\’ll stay behind the bench for the next couple of seasons. Don Sweeney won the GM of the Year award.

                Projected Lineup

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Karson Kuhlman
Danton Heinen – Charlie Coyle – Chris Wagner
Joakim Nordstrom – Sean Kuraly – Brett Ritchie
Extras: David Backes, Par Lindholm, Anders Bjork

               Zdeno Chara – Charlie McAvoy
               Torey Krug – Brandon Carlo
               Matt Grzelcyk – Connor Clifton
Extras: Kevan Miller, John Moore, Steven Kampfer

                                Tuuka Rask
                                Jaroslav Halak
Extras: Maxime Legace

The Bruins are a really good team, which was demonstrated by them making the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018-19. They may not make it back there in 2019-20, but they have a really good chance of winning it all, even with the Lightning in their division. I predict the Bruins will finish 2nd in the Atlantic Division, making the playoffs, and winning at least one round.

Published by carterhud SI Kids Kid Reporter, Prime Time Sports Talk writer

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