‘The State of the Bruins’

By: Mike Grinnell

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When thinking about the Bruins season thus far, the only comparable option is the Yankee Cannonball ride at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, New Hampshire. Through six games, the season has had many ups and downs like the infamous roller coaster at Canobie Lake, while it looks as though it could fall apart at any minute, a few minor repairs, and it could last another 50 years.

The team started off 0-3 for the first time since 1999, allowing 16 goals through their first 3 games. Game 4, was a complete turn around for the Bruins, they actually played good enough hockey to win themselves a game, on the road, in Denver, against a young, fast, and talented Colorado Avalanche by a score of 6-2. The Bruins followed up with another big win, against another young, talented team in Arizona against the Coyotes, 5-3.

We have seen both the good and the bad from the Bruins this season, I am going to break down both.

Good:

I think it is always good to focus on the positives before the negatives, and David Krejci has been nothing but a positive this season. After an injury plagued season last year, a lot of analysts attributed last seasons unsuccessful finish to Krejci missing time.

David Krejci leads the league with 9 points through 5 games this season. With 4 goals and 5 assists Krejci is tied atop the leader board with only Henrik Zetterberg for most points in the NHL this season.

A majority of Krejci’s success this season can be attributed to a successful power play, where Krejci has tallied 5 of his 9 points. The line of David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Matt Beleskey, has been good, but not great. Krejci has had a helper on just as many goals from Beleskey or Pastrnak, as fourth liner Tyler Randell, who Krejci assisted on Saturday night against Arizona.

Along with the previously mentioned power play that has looked good, Patrice Bergeron’s line has looked great of late. Adding 3 of the 5 goals Saturday night against Arizona. Though, Bergeron added two power play goals and Marchand added a short-handed goal, the production from the line is good to see and it’s something to build on.

Bad:

I certainly don’t think benching Brett Connolly is the Bruins biggest problem this season, but they need to find a place for the former 5th overall pick, that isn’t in the press box. Connolly was scratched from Saturday nights game to make room for Tyler Randell, who in 2 games, has two goals.

Connolly was moved to Patrice Bergeron’s line to play alongside Berg and Loui Eriksson while Brad Marchand sat out with a concussion. Now that Marchand is healthy, there is clearly an issue with the lineup. The first two lines of David Krejci, Matt Beleskey, David Pastrnak, and Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Loui Eriksson aren’t going anywhere. So Claude and the coaching staff need to find a place for Connolly in the bottom six, which shouldn’t be too difficult.

Connolly was a clear liability playing alongside Jimmy Hayes and Ryan Spooner in the first 3 games, so don’t expect to see Connolly take over his 3rd line wing spot anytime soon. The best place for Connolly would be on the 4th line, alongside Joonas Kemppainen and Tyler Randell. The days of throwing 3 goons on your 4th line are long gone, having a 4th line that can score, fight and provide energy when needed would be a major benefit to the Bruins.

The Bruins biggest problem this season is defense. With Zdeno Chara leading the pack, the Bruins lack experience and overall skill on their blue line. Kevan Miller has looked good of late, adding a goal in Saturday night’s win, but has also look bad at times, turning the puck over in the defensive zone. Torey Krug is slowly emerging as a top 4 defensemen, but still needs to work on smarter decisions with the puck in the defensive zone. Adam McQuaid is Adam McQuaid, with a +2 on the season, Krug and McQuaid have been a decent number 2 pairing, but would hope to see the Bruins add a puck moving, top 4 defensemen as the season progresses.

Amongst the young guns, who it seems Don Sweeney planned to rely heavily on this season, Colin Miller has looked the best thus far with a -2 rating in 4 games played. Joe Morrow was placed on the IR due to an illness and Zach Trotman hasn’t really panned out the way Bruins fans thought he would, playing in only one game, with a -2 rating. Tommy Cross has also played in the Bruins last two games, looking reliable against the Avalanche, and as a liability against the Coyotes.

It’s still early, but only 5 games into the season, the bad has amassed the good for the Bruins. But like I said, the team is only 5 games in, there is no reason to start talking about trading away core players, just yet.

For the best coverage of the NHL and the Boston Bruins Follow @MikeGrinnell_ and check out his blog on ESPNNHRadio.com. Also tune into the ESPN New Hampshire Bruins Pregame Show an hour before game time. 

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