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The Mass Media

What to expect from the Boston Bruins this season

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Bianca Oppedisano
Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins goaltender. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff

The past two NHL seasons have been the most bizarre seasons in history due to the huge ruckus COVID has caused. But finally, in 2021, things get back to normal and the Boston Bruins are looking to pose a threat in the Atlantic Division once again.
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Bruins invested serious money in the offseason to address depth scoring. The addition of players like Nick Foligno and Erik Haula should turn what was once one of the weakest third lines in the NHL, into a serious strength. These additions will hopefully soften the blow of David Krejci’s departure. The Bruins also added defenseman, Derek Forbort, and goaltender, Linus Ullmark, to fill in the remaining holes.
So, now with the regular season officially underway, what should we expect from the 2021-2022 Bruins?
If you ask me, the window for a championship is just as large this year as it was back in 2019 when they made it to the finals. The Bruins will return in the same division as the back-to-back champion, Tampa Bay Lightning.  However, Tampa Bay lost some good depth pieces in the offseason, and they just lost their best player in Nikita Kucherov for what looks like a good chunk of the season. It’s safe to say the Lightnings don’t look nearly as indestructible as they have the past two years.
The biggest threat for the Bruins in the Atlantic Division, in my opinion, will be the Florida Panthers. The Panthers have great forward depth in line one through four, a rock-solid defensive core and one of the best goaltending tandems with veteran Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight. The Panthers have been on the rise for the past few years, and this could be the year they do some serious damage in the Eastern Conference.
I will acknowledge that the Buffalo Sabres have had a great start to the season going 3–0, but based on how they did last year, there is no way they can maintain the current success they are having. The only other threat I see for the Bruins in the Atlantic Division is the Toronto Maple Leafs.  However, even though the Maple Leafs have a highly skilled roster, I just don’t see them getting past the first round of the playoffs.
Although the Bruins’s window for a championship seems like it is wide open this year, there are still some glaring question marks on the roster. First off, with Krejci gone, the second line center position was given to Charlie Coyle, who had arguably the worst season of his career a year ago. Granted, he wasn’t surrounded by great talent a year ago.  However, if he doesn’t turn it around, while centering good players like Taylor Hall and Craig Smith, then there could be a cause for concern.
The other question mark for this team is the goaltending situation. Even though it isn’t necessarily a weakness, the Bruins are going into this season with a relatively unproven goaltender in Ullmark—who last season had a decent year for the lowly Sabres—and a rookie goaltender in Jeremy Swayman. The concerning part of this is the fact that Ullmark is being paid to be the starter, but has been outplayed by Swayman throughout the preseason. If Ullmark can’t get his act together soon, he could potentially find himself on the ninth floor, when or if Tuukka Rask potentially returns in late January.
Like every team, the Bruins will have some unknowns when it comes to their roster. However, if those unknowns can become strengths down the line, then the Bruins can be real threats to win the Stanley Cup this year. If these unknowns don’t get answered, on the other hand, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see the return of Rask and maybe even Krejci by the end of the regular season, as neither of them have shut the door on returning as soon as this year.

About the Contributors
Jonathan Hopkins, Sports Editor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator