At the All-Star break, the Bruins have notched up a solid 57 points, only one point adrift of second place in their division. Currently, the Boston team owns one of the two Wild Card positions for the Stanley Cup playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
Don Sweeney, the new Bruins General Manager, who replaced Peter Chiarelli in the aftermath of a disappointing 2014-15 season, paved the way towards improvement. His ambition outshines that of Chiarelli and he is determined to make changes for the future of the team.
This season, even though Milan Lucic, Dougie Hamilton, Carl Soderberg, Reilly Smith, and Gregory Campbell are no longer sporting black and gold jerseys, the trades have not been quite as detrimental as originally thought. However, the addition of many draft picks and prospects have given the team more potential for the future. However, the team currently lacks depth in all four lines.
Against the Columbus Blue Jackets, typical third line center, Ryan Spooner moved up to right wing on first line. The new arrangement had its pros and cons: the line ultimately produced 11 out of 34 shots on net.. The team scraped a 3-2 win in a final shootout. However, the third and fourth lines fell short, only generating a disappointing four shots on net. Against a team that currently owns the worst record in the history of the NHL, a 3-2 grind is not something to be proud of.
The rookies and draft picks have so far meshed well with the team, stepping up even as the newcomers. Hayes, Belesky, and Frank Vatrano have all contributed multiple goals throughout the season and have proven themselves decisive in risky situations.
Nonetheless, the Bruins are far from their 2011 glory. Despite the improving offense, the sharp decline in defense is to blame for the lack of success. Big Z, Zdeno Chara, has visibly slowed, and understandably so, now in his 20th year in the NHL. Dennis Seidenberg’s surgery proved harmful as well, limiting the wide hockey-skillset he used to own. Former Sharks, Matt Irwin performed so atrociously that after two games, he was shipped back to the AHL.
As for the defensive rookies, they have played to the best of their current ability, but will continue to make rookie mistakes that will only improve with experience. A playoff appearance is definitely there for the taking, but a run at the Stanley Cup maybe asking for too much.