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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Injuries and surprising cuts put pressure on younger Bruins

Boston+Bruins+left+winger+Trent+Fredrick+shoots+a+puck.
Bianca Oppedisano
Boston Bruins left winger Trent Fredrick shoots a puck. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

Boston Bruins hockey is back! David Krejci looks like he’s going to have a productive year and David Pastrnak looks unstoppable! Is there anything that could go wrong after the Bruins 5–2 win over the Washington Capitals on Oct. 12? Yeah, a lot could go wrong, actually. Now, not to be so much of a pessimist, but the Bruins are entering the year with an injury plagued core, with superstar Brad Marchand headlining that list, alongside top defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk.
Marchand—it’s pronounced Marsh-ahnd, NHL commentators—has been battling a hip injury and had surgery this past off-season, while McAvoy and Grzelcyk both had shoulder surgery (1). The bad news keeps coming for McAvoy, too; he was just placed on long-term injured reserve at the start of this season, making his timetable for a comeback from injury even further down the line (2). His absence is a huge blow to the Bruins, as he was the number one defenseman on the depth chart and the top defenseman on the power play, posting career highs across the board last season with 56 points, 10 goals, and 78 of the 82 regular season games played (3).
With three top players absent for the Bruins to begin the new season, that leaves room for younger players to step up, contribute and showcase the same skills they did in the preseason, and last year too. However, it’s not only their absence that may impact the Bruins, but also the absence of their former head coach, and current head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights, Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy brought the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019, as well as helped the team win the President’s trophy in the shortened 2020 season, as the league’s best team during the regular season. He also never missed the playoffs during his tenure as head coach (4).
With Cassidy gone, and former Dallas Stars assistant, Jim Montgomery, taking over the role as head coach, the Bruins’ season could go in many different directions—with an aging core and fresh faces now taking over the team while star players are injured. Some may speculate that the Bruins may not even make the playoffs and may under perform, while others see the Bruins as contenders for the Stanley Cup, so long as they hold their ground until Marchy, McAvoy and Grizzy come back. Until then, though, people will remain skeptical of some of the Bruins’ acquisitions this off-season, and the reliability of their call-ups—and rightfully so—knowing that the Bruins’ prospect pool is one of the worst in the league (5).
Even though the Bruins may be in a hole to start the season, some of the preseason performances by prospects give the team hope that they will step up when their name is called, not to mention their statement win against the Washington Capitals shows signs of a promising season that lies ahead. The Bruins jumped out to a 3–0 lead early in the second period, thanks to goals from captain Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall. However, Washington cut the lead down to 3–2 after two goals scored later in the second (6), but unlike some of the fans, the Bruins did not panic.
The return of fan favorite David Krejci, who came back to the Bruins after his one-year stint playing in the Czech leagues, played a factor in this game, as he was able to score the game sealing goal late in the third period and extend the lead to two. Krejci and Pastrnak, the dynamic pairing dubbed the “Czech line,” alongside forward Pavel Zacha, combined for seven points offensively, with Krejci netting a goal with two assists, and Pastrnak scoring a goal to go along with three assists.
Some of the rookies and younger players were impressive too, and with players Nick Foligno and Mike Reilly on thin ice after rejoining the team after clearing waivers when they were cut, it may be time for a change within the Bruins lineup. Center Jakub Lauko performed well in his first career game in black and gold; he was able to draw two penalties against the Capitals in a three-minute span. AJ Greer also played for the Bruins; Greer came over this offseason, after playing for the New Jersey Devils, and hopes to play like he did this past preseason to solidify a spot on the roster (9). As for potential call-ups, top prospects John Breecher and Marc McLaughlin could be replacing some faces on the roster too, both of whom performed well during the preseason (10). With McLaughlin having success in his prior experience in the NHL last season, the Bruins’ bottom six forwards are on the hot seat and could turn their jobs over to the prospects.
Some of the key takeaways from the Bruins’ win over the Capitals would be that both the offense and defense are clicking, and on top of all of that, it seems as if the Bruins’ aging stars have found the fountain of youth. The duo of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark at goalie will pay dividends if Ullmark plays the same way that he did during the season opener (11), where he stopped 33 of 35 shots and made critical saves to keep the Bruins with a one-goal lead. Both Jakub Lauko and A.J. Greer played well in their first games as Bruins, and that could open the door up for more prospects, some of whom already have experience at the NHL level, and could kick some of the veterans to the curb for their underwhelming play.
All in all, the Bruins are in for a long season with the current injury status of their star players, but despite the team playing in the Atlantic division—arguably the hardest division in the NHL—there are high hopes for this team moving forward with the chemistry some players have already developed. And if the prospects do indeed get the opportunity to play in the NHL, and happen to outperform the aging players that didn’t find the fountain of youth, then the team will only improve and become more well-rounded when their superstars come back.
Until then, it’s only a matter of waiting and seeing how the Bruins will perform against their division opponents, and how they’ll handle some of the growing pains that come with a depleted roster and new coaching while playing against tough opponents down the stretch. The Bruins play the Panthers on Oct. 17, before traveling to Ottawa to take on the Senators the following day, and make their way back to TD Garden to face the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild on Oct. 20 and 22 (12).

  1. McAvoy out for start of next season for Bruins after shoulder surgery (nhl.com)
  2.  Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy: Moved to LTIR – CBSSports.com
  3. Charlie McAvoy Stats and News | NHL.com
  4. Bruce Cassidy Coaching Record (vimbuzz.com)
  5. Ranking Boston Bruins’ top 10 prospects entering 2022-23 NHL season – NBC Sports Boston
  6.  3 takeaways from the Bruins’ opening-night win over Washington (msn.com)
  7. 3 takeaways from the Bruins’ opening-night win over Washington (msn.com)
  8. Bruins Rookie Jakub Lauko Impresses Jim Montgomery In Debut (nesn.com)
  9. Bruins fans may quickly love A.J. Greer, who made his mark in Bruins’ preseason win – CBS Boston (cbsnews.com)
  10. Flyers vs. Bruins – NHL Game Summary – October 1, 2022 | ESPN
  11. Linus Ullmark Stats and News | NHL.com
  12. bruins – Search (bing.com)
About the Contributors
Nick Collins, Sports Editor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator