When Bruce Cassidy took over as the Boston Bruins head coach last season, the attitude underwent a dramatic change.
He turned a team that looked like it was going to miss the postseason for the third straight year into a dark horse playoff contender.
Cassidy wasn’t able to get the Bruins out of the first round of the NHL Playoffs, but the blame shouldn’t be put on his shoulders.
The Black and Gold were plagued by a rash of injuries just before, and during the postseason. Boston’s D corps was being held together by duct tape, and the Bruins faced a red-hot Ottawa team that played an incredible defensive scheme.
The Bruins finally made it back to the playoffs under Cassidy, but the franchise is looking to make a deeper playoff push next year. However, despite high aspirations, there are many factors that lead us to question the Bruins ability to make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup this year.
Boston’s future is bright, but they should be cautious about going all in this season and here’s why:
The Eastern Conference is stacked
The days of the Western Conference being dominant are over, the East has plenty of teams that are ready to break through and win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins have improved a lot, but they still aren’t quite ready to contend with the power houses in the Eastern Conference.
The Pittsburgh Penguins just won back to back Stanley Cups and look poised for a third straight title with a roster that is still loaded. They also have arguably the best player in the world in Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins aren’t the East’s only power house, however, several teams in the East have some serious talent and are ready to win right now.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are just getting started. They are a young team that had a fantastic season a year ago, and look prepared to take the next step.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had a down season last year, but they have the talent the return to winning form in 2017-18.
The Capitals will always be a contender, well at least in the regular season, as long Alex Ovetchkin is penned on their roster.
The Ottawa Senators shocked everybody in 2016-17 and look to be just getting started.
In the playoffs, anything can happen, but the Bruins need a little more time to build their roster to championship form.
They still have some serious holes
Even when healthy, the Bruins defense isn’t at the level it needs to be for a Stanley Cup run. Brandon Carlo, Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug are all fantastic, but they need a couple more pieces before they are in championship form.
The Bruins are also in need for another left winger. Brad Marchand is a superstar, but they need another high calibre left winger in order to increase production offensively.
Patience is their best option
This article may seem a bit critical of the Bruins, but make no mistake, their future is bright. Cassidy is moving the Bruins in the right direction and their championship window is just opening. The Bruins have some talented prospects that are just about ready to make the next step and play at the NHL level.
If Cassidy and the Bruins are patient and give their youngsters time to develop, many of the holes listed above will be filled.
Charlie McAvoy headlines several potential defenseman the Bruins have, who could be future super stars. If Anders Bjork is as good as he looked at development camp, he will fill the need at left wing and then some.
The Bruins have a lot of talent on their roster, but if they can stay patient for one more year, then Lord Stanley may be just around the corner.