68°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bruins look ahead to the second half of the season

Sketch+of+the+Boston+Bruins+logo.
Bianca Oppedisano
Sketch of the Boston Bruins logo. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

In the first half of the 2021-22 NHL season, the Boston Bruins were pretty much what most people expected them to be: one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference, if not, a world beater. They continued to be led by their fearsome top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Meanwhile, Charlie McAvoy continued to ascend to the upper echelon of NHL defensemen. However, the team struggled to find scoring depth in their bottom nine forwards, needing guys like Taylor Hall, Craig Smith, Charlie Coyle and others to shoulder a heavier offensive load. And the B’s were more or less a good team, and barring a complete collapse in the second half of the season, will most likely make the playoffs. But are they a true Stanley Cup contender? I would have to lean in the direction of “no.”
The Bruins’ biggest strength, as stated above, is without a doubt their combination of 63, 37, and 88 on the so-called “Perfection Line”. Marchand has solidified himself as one of the best players in the league, with 21 goals and 49 points in 39 games played thus far. After a bit of a slow start to the year, Pastrnak began to rip the puck past opposing goalies like nobody’s business, scoring an absurd 14 goals in 15 games leading up to the All-Star break. And the captain, Bergeron, the eternal Bruin and heart and soul of the franchise, continues to defy father time, with 12 goals and 34 points in 42 games thus far. However, Coach Bruce Cassidy, knowing that you need more than just one good line to be a good hockey team, began to experiment with splitting up the top line in December, having Pastrnak play on a line with Hall and first-year free-agent signee Erik Haula, which ended up paying big dividends, as the line produced exceptionally well together in January.
The Bruins’ defense is another source of strength, with the aforementioned McAvoy taking the leap to a truly elite player—7 goals, 28 points, plus-4 in 40 games—and depth guys like Matt Grzelcyk, Mike Rielly and Derek Forbort contributing as well. But are they truly a good enough group to go up against some of the league’s elite forwards, from teams like Florida, Carolina and Tampa Bay, among others? As of right now, probably not. With the NHL trade deadline upcoming, they could perhaps add a defenseman, such as Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun, however, that would cost a pretty penny and it is unknown whether or not the Bruins have such assets to acquire Chychrun. They could also add another center from a non-contending team, like Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux, or Vancouver’s JT Miller.
And I could not complete this article without talking about the Bruins’ goaltending situation. Longtime backstop Tuukka Rask’s contract expired at the end of last year and he underwent offseason hip surgery, so he would not have been available to start the year even if he was re-signed. To alleviate this, General Manager Don Sweeney signed veteran Linus Ullmark to go along with promising youngster Jeremy Swayman. The pair have performed well enough to keep the Bruins in playoff contention while Rask recovered from surgery. However, Rask’s long-awaited return didn’t last too long as he opted to retire after suffering a lower-body injury in just his first four games back.

About the Contributors
Jack Sherman, Sports Writer
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator