Hockey is the hardest sport to predict. Several teams always do much better or worse than expected. Come playoff time, any team can get hot and make a run at the Stanley Cup.
Rather than predict how the Boston Bruins season is going to turn out, we’re going to analyze the best and worse case scenario season the team could possibly have, given the talent currently on the roster.
Best Case Scenario: An Eastern Conference Final Berth
The Bruins have a lot of potential, but they would need a lot to go right in order to make a playoff run this deep.
Brad Marchand leads the league in goals and pushes Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid for the Hart Memorial Trophy. Most importantly however, he isn’t suspended and becomes a force in the post season.
David Pastrnak proves that his breakout season wasn’t a fluke and improves on his 70-point campaign.
Depth players such as Frank Vatrano and Ryan Spooner have bounce back seasons, giving the Bruins solid scoring depth.
Anders Bjork turns out to be as good as advertised and earns a spot on Boston’s top line, allowing Pastrnak, David Krejci, and David Backes to form a high powered all David line.
Anton Khudobin continues to shine under Bruce Cassidy and Tuukka Rask (who has another strong season) isn’t forced to play nearly as many games.
Charlie McAvoy has an even better rookie season than Brandon Carlo and Boston’s young blue line becomes a force to be reckoned with.
The Bruins finish second in the the Atlantic behind either Toronto or Tampa, before eliminating their two first round opponents.
The dream season will then unfortunately be put to an end after they meet either the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final.
If the Bruins make the post season then they’ll definitely be good enough to compete, but the loaded Metro Division has more than enough talent to send a team to the Stanley Cup Final once again.
Worst Case Scenario: The Bruins finish 7th in the Atlantic Division
Just as easily as the Bruins could be insanely good, they could also regress a lot.
The Bruins are a far better team than the Detroit Red Wings … and that’s about all we know. There is a lot of hype around McAvoy and Bjork, but until we see them play in the regular season, it’s all speculation.
The Bruins had a quiet offseason, and in the NHL that’s not always a good thing. Sure they didn’t get any worse on paper, but they also aren’t much improved. They’re more or less the same team that got knocked out in the first round last year.
Cassidy is going to have to be a wizard or hope his team is as good as they can be or else.
Marchand is forced to carry the team because the scoring depth is once again an issue. Vatrano and Spooner fail to stay consistent and rookies who aren’t ready are forced to get called up.
40-year-old Zdeno Chara begins to show signs of regression and Charlie McAvoy struggles in his rookie season. As a result, the Bruins defense becomes a liability and too much pressure on Rask.
Speaking of Rask, he is forced to play far too many games because Khudobin reverts to his former self. No other backup goalie can lock down the job and Boston enters a goalie crisis.
Bjork shows he isn’t ready for the NHL and isn’t yet able to contribute for the Bruins.
Despite his new contract, Pastrnak turns out to be a one hit wonder. Sweeney will be kicking himself for overpaying the man.
Boston finishes second to last in the division and fails to make the playoffs for the third time in four years.
The bottom line: Neither of these scenarios will come true
The Bruins have the potential to be really good, and seeing them come even close to their worst case scenario would be a surprise.
The bottom line however, is that we just don’t know a lot about this team yet. They’re more or less the same, but in an NHL where teams stay the same, others are usually getting better.
The key will be the Bruins young players having an immediate impact, and their depth players becoming more of a factor.