If we go by point percentage, which was honestly a must considering the Bruins’ nonsensically light schedule out of the gate this season, the Bruins actually found themselves in a postseason spot on Thanksgiving.
It’s the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, yeah, but a spot’s a spot as it relates to the first unofficial measuring stick point of the season.
But the Bruins’ obvious and undeniable early-season struggles against the league’s stronger clubs have at times made it feel like the Bruins are more pretender than contender. The Bruins couldn’t break out of that trend Friday afternoon against the Rangers, as a complete breakdown of a third period pushed the Blueshirts to a 5-2 victory, and dropped Boston to 1-6-0 against teams currently in the NHL playoff structure in both the East and West.
But the latter isn’t something that Bruins winger Brad Marchand isn’t sweating, even after another loss to stiff competition.
“Not concerned at all,” Marchand said after Friday’s loss. “It’s early in the year. We have a lot of new faces in our group.”
That is certainly true. The Bruins went big on the first day of free agency for the first time in the Don Sweeney and added Derek Forbort, Erik Haula, Tomas Nosek, Nick Foligno, and Linus Ullmark. That, as it’s played out, was adding a top-four defenseman, three middle-six forwards (including two centers), and a 1B goaltender. That’s a lot of newness and in key spots.
The B’s also lost constants like David Krejci, Tuukka Rask (for now), and Kevan Miller. They even lost Jeremy Lauzon, a player who had emerged as a go-to option in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill for Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, to the Seattle expansion draft. Factor that in with the 2020 offseason departures of defensemen Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara and that’s a lot of reliability off the board and in key spots in a span of 12 months.
“It’s a different year for us,” Marchand acknowledged. “A lot different than what we’ve had in a long time. We have to build something again, whereas before we had such little turnover [that] whoever came in just kind of fit into the group, but everything was already established. Now, with the amount of new guys we have, it’s hard to coming to a new team and learning new systems and building that chemistry again. But that’s we have to do. The D have to build their chemistry with the goalies, all the forwards have to build their chemistry with their line and then again with the defensemen breaking out plays.”
In essence, it’s real, real close to a hard reset for the Bruins.
And while that doesn’t mean that everything’s awesome or that their problems aren’t real, it does mean that the Bruins want to give themselves a little more time before they truly hit the panic button on their season.
“There’s a lot of stuff we need to work on,” said Marchand. “I don’t think we expected to come in and dominate from the start of the year. We knew it’d be a process to get our game to where it needs to be, but we’re not concerned with Game 17 or 18. We wanna be playing our best down the stretch, and that’s what we’re going to build for.
“It’s like building a house. You gotta build the foundation. That’s what we’re going to continue to work on and go from there.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.