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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Boston Bruins Season Recap

The 2016-17 Boston Bruins season came to a bittersweet end. While they did return to the playoffs after missing it for the past two years, they were ousted in six games in the first round by the Ottawa Senators. This was an Ottawa Senators team that won three of their games in overtime, including a pair at TD Garden, the latter being the series-clincher.

Taking greater things in perspective, however, it didn’t seem likely that they could return to the postseason until a mid-season coaching change proved to be the vital formula for their resurgence. When Bruce Cassidy was named interim coach on Feb. 7 after Claude Julien was ousted, the Bruins were 26-23-7 and on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. Cassidy would turn all that around in fortunes in the Hub of Hockey, guiding the team to an 18-8-1 finish and third place in the Atlantic Division, ahead of Toronto.

Over time, Cassidy would turn over to a youth movement, calling up players from the club’s AHL side in Providence and signing draft choices once their college seasons ended. This was the case for Charles McAvoy, one of the eight Bruins who made their playoff debuts this year, and the lone one to do so without playing a regular season game.

Statistically, the Bruins finished in the middle of the pack offensively, 13th in the league in goals per game. Their bread and butter was on defense, finishing in the top 10 in the NHL with fewest goals allowed, in ninth at 2.55 a game. Individually, Brad Marchand powered the Bruins’ offense, finishing with 39 goals and 85 points, good for fifth in the NHL, while tying with Zdeno Chara for the team lead with a plus/minus of +18. David Pastrnak would not be far behind, finishing with 34 goals and 70 points, proving himself to be a budding star at just 20 years old. He also proved to be a fan favorite, winning the NESN seventh Player Award at the end of the season.

On defense, Torey Krug once again was their top-scoring blueliner, finishing with 51 points, eight of which were goals. Two-way forwards Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci were the other significant offensive pieces, joining Marchand and Pastrnak in the 20-plus goalscorer club. Between the pipes, Tuukka Rask carried the load once again as the Bruins top goaltender, finishing fifth among league netminders in wins with 37, and second in shutouts with eight, behind reigning Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals. Anton Khudobin won the other seven games the Bruins picked up over the season, while Providence regulars Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban saw action as goaltending depth remains a big issue for Boston going into the off-season.

Having earned the right to shed the interim tag to his coaching title, the attention can turn to Cassidy, and how he handles the Bruins roster going forward. Despite having to sign up drafted players for immediate playoff action as a result of injuries to regulars like Krug, young talents like McAvoy and Sean Kuraly showed plenty of bite in their playoff series, with four of their six games going to overtime. Kuraly showed the Bruins his offensive potential in game five, scoring two goals which included the game winner in double overtime. His skill offers Boston the potential to fill the need for a big power forward in place of the departed Milan Lucic.

Their depth was further bolstered by the additions of former Boston University stars Matt Grzelcyk and McAvoy on the blueline. They will also receive additional help when next season rolls around from former Terrier-player Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson.

Overall, their needs have been adequately met as far as forwards and defenseman are concerned. The only question mark that remains is the goaltending depth in the club system. While Rask is still capable of being an elite NHL goalie, he might do better on a different team where postseason pressure goes, as a city like Boston tend to make such pressure an enormous burden to carry. McIntyre has the potential to be the future successor to Rask, judging by his success in Providence this year, but he would need to translate that to success at the NHL level, which he hasn’t done yet.
Under their current makeup, the Bruins are still plenty capable of holding their own against young clubs like Toronto and still be able to reach the playoffs. Given their young talent, the future is bright for the black and gold.