Jordan Leandre | December 23rd, 2018
For years, the Boston Bruins got dubbed the “Big Bad Bruins” for their relentless aggression, and sometimes chippy play-style.
It took a couple of seasons of being a bubble team but ending on the outside of the playoff picture before ultimately parting ways with Claude Julien and rolling with Bruce Cassidy at the helm. Typically with a coaching change, there is a shift in the way the team operates on the ice.
It seemed as if the Bruins had adopted a team that was predicated on their offensive stars carrying the load. The likes of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have joined forces to create an absolute juggernaut of a top line, while a guy like Torey Krug logs over 20 minutes per night despite being considered a defensive liability.
But things are different this season. The Bruins have dealt with a multitude of injuries to their top-tier players; as guys like Bergeron, Jake DeBrusk, Zdeno Chara, and Charlie McAvoy have all missed time due to various injuries.
Even so, Boston is 20-12-4 and sit just three points outside of the third spot in the Atlantic division. They’ve certainly done a great job of treading above water in the time their core guys have been out. But why’s that?
That’s because the Bruins have adopted a new identity, almost inadvertently. A team that has lately relied on the offense to make up for a rather lackluster defense, has very recently had the tables turn.
Sure, they’ve had their fair share of offensive outbursts, scoring five goals against the Predators on Dec. 22, and another six-goal outburst against the Leafs on Dec. 8; but the Bruins have scored three or fewer goals in 15 of their last 20 games –– a stretch in which they went 11-9-0. Despite the rather average output in the win column, the B’s are only allowing 2.55 goals per game; so they’re doing fairly well on that end.
A good portion of those games have been without Chara, McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller, or even Urho Vaakanainen. Yet Boston continues to hang around the division race.
That’s because the Bruins are now predicated on their depth, particularly at the blue line.
Five defensemen. Five. But in their absence, the Bruins were able to get solid play out of the likes of Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton, and Steven Kampfer.
It’s not usual to see a Bruins team so loaded at the blue line, and it’s effectively kept them afloat in the division standings as they await the returns of Miller and Chara in the coming weeks.
This Bruins team keeps getting better as players get healthy, as evident by their 5-2 win against the Predators in a four-point return for Bergeron. They may not be a Stanley Cup contender this season, but the Bruins very well can make some noise with the right path if they can find their way into the postseason this year.
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Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images