By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Just seven games in, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy already knows the Bruins are leaning on their first line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak entirely too much.
Speaking after a 4-3 shootout loss to the Lightning on Thursday, with Boston's scoring coming from David Pastrnak (two goals, giving him six in his last two games) and Patrice Bergeron, Cassidy couldn't help but lament what could have been had the Bruins been able to squeeze something, anything, out of their other nine forwards and six defensemen.
"We win the game if we get secondary scoring from anybody," a frustrated Cassidy said after the loss. "I think we’re stating the obvious saying that."
It's obvious, alright. And it seems damn near impossible. Yes, the Bruins are playing down a vital piece of their middle-six forward group (David Krejci missed Thursday's game due to an upper-body injury and has not looked like himself when in action this season), but these B's are shooting blanks at a rate that cost Claude Julien his job back in 2017.
Through seven games this year, the Bruins have seven forwards who have yet to record a goal despite having played at least 75 minutes of five-on-five play this year. That list includes Bergeron, Sean Kuraly, Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Chris Wagner, and Karson Kuhlman. No other NHL team has that many zeroes up front. The Minnesota Wild are close to matching Boston's offensive ineptitude, with six forwards who have played at least 75 minutes and scored zero goals. But they're also terrible, with one win and a minus-15 goal differential through their first seven games of the new season. Nobody wants to find themselves in the same class as the 2019 Wild.
The Bruins have also struck for just 11 even-strength goals on 187 shots. That's "good" for a 5.88 shooting percentage at evens, which trails only the Flyers and their 5.84 for the worst mark in the league. The Flyers, for all their attempts to improve and make a splash this summer, are yet another team the B's would prefer not to be linked to in any respect.
The only reason this hasn't come back to absolutely kick the Bruins upside the head? That aforementioned first line has accounted for 13 of the team's 19 goals (no other Boston skater has more than a single goal), and their power play has clicked at a ridiculous 38.1 percent clip through seven games, as they've converted on eight of their 21 power-play opportunities.
The Bruins have also been saved by what's been some stellar netminding, as the one-two punch of Jaroslav Halak and Tuukka Rask has posted a .944 save percentage on the year, trailing only the Coyotes' .945 for the No. 1 spot in the league.
But Cassidy knows that it's not a recipe for long-term success.
"I don’t think it’s sustainable," Cassidy acknowledged.