The goal for the Bruins last offseason was apparent following a disappointing second-round loss to the Islanders, where their lack of depth and shaky goaltending led to their demise. The Bruins did a great job shoring that up, but they sit here a year later in the same position. While the reasons for their first-round exit to Carolina are not the same, Boston has entered a state of emergency.
Make sure to check out all of our other NHL Season Recaps.
By The Numbers
Power Play: 21.2% (15th)
Penalty Kill: 81.3% (9th)
Goals For: 253 (15th)
Goals Against: 218 (4th)
The perfection line was great again, and Patrice Bergeron will likely win the Selke Trophy for the millionth time. But Charlie McAvoy was the real star of the Bruins this year. No other Bruins defenseman had even half of his 56 points. McAvoy is a beast in his own end as well. Per Evolving-Hockey, his xGF% of 63.14% was the best in the league among defenders. Bergeron was first in the league, so he comes close to getting this spot. But McAvoy’s increased offensive production deserves recognition.
The Bruins, as a team, controlled play for most of the season, so the few slackers would stand out. Even by analytical standards, Nick Foligno was not a bad player at all. However, he was brought in to fix Boston’s depth problem and responded with two goals and 11 assists in 64 games. There is reason to be optimistic, as Foligno’s 95.2 PDO was an unheard-of level of unlucky for a sample size that large. Foligno’s on-ice shooting percentage was 3.67 percent. No other Bruin forward with at least 500 minutes played was under six percent. Not all of that is on Foligno, but it is disappointing to see.
Behind the Bench Analysis
The Bruins have consistently been dominant in the Bruce Cassidy era. But the unhappy ends of the year are stacking up. Under Cassidy, Boston went all the way to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2019. Despite that, they are 36-37 in the postseason, with him as the coach. Not all of that lies on Cassidy, of course, but coaches often take the fall for these kinds of things. This year, Cassidy spoke to great lengths about the team’s use of analytics and that while he may not be the most knowledgeable on the subject, he still inputs them and is open to suggestions. That is seemingly rare, even by today’s standards. With how well regarded this team was by analytical models, it bodes well for Cassidy.
Front Office Analysis
The Bruins may have been good last year, but they were the inferior of the four Atlantic Division playoff teams. With Bergeron set to be a free agent and turning 37 this summer, the clock is ticking fast for GM Don Sweeney. He made an interesting deadline move acquiring Hampus Lindholm, then extending him. He was more of a luxury for the team than a necessity, so it will be intriguing to see how that deal pays off. Lindholm has talent, but it doesn’t look outstanding at the moment. Sweeney will have to deal with McAvoy’s huge extension kicking in, as well as having Bergeron and David Pastrnak‘s bargain contracts running out within the next two seasons.
2022 NHL Entry Draft
Thanks to said Lindholm trade, Boston is without a first-round pick this year. Aside from that, their draft capital is standard, with six picks in the last six rounds. The team is loaded with NHL skaters, but the level of young prospects beyond that is somewhat thin. They picked a forward last year in Fabian Lysell, and with three defensemen having their contracts expire after 2023-24, they could try to replenish that area. There is also a bit of an organizational need for a center, especially with Bergeron in his final seasons.
Obviously, signing Bergeron is the number one priority. He is not going anywhere else, so the main point of contention is the cap hit. The Bruins were surprisingly middle-of-the-pack offensively last season, so adding a forward can be in play. They also need to address the Jake DeBrusk situation once and for all. The young winger scored 25 goals this season but has also had a trade request lasting for years. His recent success could have ended that. If not, Boston could try to make a player-for-player swap.
Check us out on our socials:
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk
Follow Carter LaCorte on Twitter @CarterHudBlog
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images