Well, the Bruins season is over. This could be one of the few times where the Bruins were eliminated and I wasn’t appalled to see them lose. When you looked at the team they iced in Game 6 – it was a virtual AHL defense with a few AHL players sprinkled into the forward lineup. It wasn’t pretty, but I think there are some positives you can take away from this Bruins season.
- Charlie McAvoy is going to be a cornerstone of the Bruins defense.
We said it about Dougie Hamilton and we’re already saying it about Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy will be the cornerstone of this defense for the next decade or so. During this series, McAvoy basically came as advertised. He was immediately slotted into a first pairing role and showed the poise of a 19 season veteran as opposed to a 19 year old kid. His first power play shift saw him playing the entire two minutes. Did he make his mistakes? Yes.
You can look at the tripping penalty he took in Game 6. McAvoy tried to go for a big hit on Tommy Wingels, but Wingels more or less moved around him. When that happens, you have two options: throw out an arm or throw out a knee. McAvoy threw out his knee and took a 2 minute minor. Instead, McAvoy should have just backed off and not tried to make that hit.
Those are things he’s going to learn as he gets more comfortable with his defensive partner (which may be Chara next season) and he gets seasoned in the NHL.
You already saw flashes of his offensive acumen. David Pastrnak’s power play goal in Game 3 happened because McAvoy was the anchor of the power play. Much like his defensive mistakes, the offensive numbers will come. The shooting will come when he’s comfortable with his teammates. His passing and his vision is already very good.
The future is bright and it begins with Charlie McAvoy.
- Maybe Tuukka Rask is good?
Tuukka Rask has taken a beating this season and a downright curb stomping in the last two weeks of March before he turned it around and shoved it back in the faces of everyone who was doubting him. We’re not talking about “Tuukka Rask sucks” talk, we’re talking “Tuukka Rask doesn’t care.”, “Tuukka Rask is a locker room liability.” type of shit. Doubting a guy’s character based on how he plays is some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with. Just because a guy doesn’t make a save and then Hulk Hogan his jersey apart doesn’t mean he’s soft or doesn’t give a shit.
Rask ended this series with a .920 SV% and a 2.20 GAA and, outside of Game 2, was incredibly solid throughout the series. Tuukka Rask stole them multiple games in that series (Game 1, Game 5).
The goalie position is incredibly fickle. Look at Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. At the beginning of the season, if someone asked you if you’d trade for Rinne or Allen, you’d look at them like they were insane people. Now? Allen and Rinne are leading the playoffs in SV% and GAA. They had monster first rounds after both were mentioned during the season in terms of losing their job.
- Chara can still go.
I tweeted during Game 5 that “These playoffs have shown that Chara is old.” and, well, he is. However Game 5 also showed me that as that game went later and later into the night, Chara was getting better. You would think that as 25 year olds were starting to cramp up and gas out, the 40 year old man would be hooked up for an oxygen machine and downing baby bottles full of Coca Cola.
Did he make his mistakes? Of course. He took bad penalties. He was slower than we were used to seeing. He’s 40 years old, but he can still go. He can still eat up minutes that no 40 year old deserves to be eating. If the Bruins were healthy and they were able to deploy Chara for 18-20 minutes a night, he’d look more like the Chara of old than Old Chara. Instead, the Bruins were missing four of their top six defensemen at points and he was playing with kids who weren’t alive when he was drafted to the NHL.
With one season left and a very good cap number ($4,000,000), the Bruins would be foolish to move Zdeno Chara to a different team (and they won’t). Slot him into a second pairing and let him excel.
Chara can still go. It’s actually an incredible sight to see.
- Brad Marchand is elite.
Despite a bad playoff performance this season, Brad Marchand broke out this season. If not for a stupid fucking decision to nut tap Jake Dochin, its very possible Marchand would have scored 40 goals this season which would have been the first time a Boston Bruins has done it since Glen Murray during the 2002-2003 season.
Sarah Spain of ESPN tweeted “Do you believe that Toews isn’t a once-in-a-generation type talent?” and it led us to talk about generational players. A generational player is someone who brings an incredibly unique skill set to the table. Here’s an incredibly hot take for you: Brad Marchand is a generational player.
From Marshall on “The Optional Skate” EP 20: “No one in the league, right now and in quite some time, can play the disruptive style of hockey that he plays. He’s gotta be one of the hardest players to play against on defense. He’s a fucking maniac out there. His defensive game is so solid and now that he’s stepped up his offense there’s no one that has that…he’s so good on this end, he’s so good on that end. He’s so balanced and elite on both ends of the ice. He’s a fucking penalty killing monster and now that he’s finally getting some power play time, he’s showing you what you he can do.”
It’s hard to argue against any of that. If Marchand is able to keep the goal scoring totals for a few more years, he’ll cement himself as one of the best. Write it down. Book it. Suck me sideways.
- The pantry is well stocked
Charlie McAvoy, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Jake Debrusk (19 goals, 30 assists, 49 points in 74 games in Providence), Zach Senyshyn (65 points in 59 games for Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)), Anders Bjork (52 points in 39 games for Notre Dame). This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the type of talent in the Boston Bruins pipeline.
Despite Don Sweeney’s lack of good NHL contracts, his drafting and scouting has been on point. His draft classes have come away with some great promise and he’s making choices that could impact the Bruins for years. Unlike the Peter Chiarelli years where the cupboard was incredibly bare, Sweeney has filled the Bruins with talented youth.
Think about this: a guy like Sean Kuraly seemed like a throw-in during the Martin Jones trade and he scored an overtime game winning goal in the NHL playoffs. The Bruins have done this in trades a couple of times. When Colin Miller came over in the Lucic trade, many gave the Vince McMahon eyebrow raise but then thought nothing of it. Now it looks like Colin Miller will fit well in a top six role.
The fucked up thing? I haven’t even mentioned guys in Providence who could/have come up and help the Bruins already. Matt Grzelyck, Rob O’Gara, Tommy Cross (fuck you, he had one bad playoff game) and Peter Cehlarik.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: the future is bright.
I tihnk this is a good place to end. I’ll more than likely have a Part II and a “Negatives To Take Away” down the road.