The Bruins got their doors blown off in their opener when they dropped a 7-0 decision against the Washington Capitals. They’d go on to pick up wins in their last two games. Which team will the Oilers face tonight? Dan from SB Nation’s Stanley Cup of Chowder helps to fill me in.
Copper and Blue: The Bruins had a forgettable start to the season in Washington. Since then, they’ve picked up wins against Buffalo and Ottawa. Short of simply allowing seven goals, what’s changed between Washington and now?
Stanley Cup of Chowder: They’ve gotten off to good starts, which has helped. They scored first against both teams, which is a big step up from allowing two goals in the first 90 seconds on opening night. The first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak has gotten itself going too, which is obviously a big boost. Marchand had four assists against Buffalo, while Bergeron had a hat trick and an assist against Ottawa. The team is only going to go as far as that line takes them, so it’s important that they get moving.
The Washington game really was just an anomaly to me. Kind of like a perfect storm: a bad start snowballed in the worst possible way due to a combination of opening night rust, new players and the Caps’ being on fire from their ceremony. I don’t expect them to be nearly that bad again all season.
Copper and Blue: The latest pairs for Boston look to feature Zdeno Chara with Charley McAvoy, John Moore with Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk with Kevan Miller. Torey Krug will be out for a bit longer with an ankle injury, which leaves a hole in the lineup. How much trouble does this create for Boston with Krug on the mend? Are you confident with the D pairs currently being run?
Stanley Cup of Chowder: It’s not the worst thing in the world, which is why some speculate Krug could be trade bait. The team is better with him in the lineup, sure. But they’re not devastated without him. He’ll be missed on the power play, and is probably the Bruins’ best option for carries out of the defensive zone. But Matt Grzeclyk finally put it all together last year, and Kevan Miller continues to improve. Plus, the Bruins have a teenager in Urho Vaakanainen down in Providence who just about made the team out of camp.
Short answer: they’re better with Krug, but they should be fine without.
Copper and Blue: It’s still very early in the season, but Tuukka Rask has allowed eight goals in two games. Is this just a blip on his radar, or should newly acquired Jaroslav Halak get ready for some more action?
Stanley Cup of Chowder: Probably a blip in the radar. Like I said, the first game was a debacle. He had one howler, but the other goals can’t be placed on his shoulders. Halak played well against Buffalo, but Rask played well against Ottawa. Bruins fans love to hate Rask, but it’s mostly overblown. He’s been fine, and should continue to be fine. If Halak puts pressure on him with strong play, it’s a good problem to have.
Copper and Blue: Is there a player on the Bruins who may be poised to have a breakout season? Who?
Stanley Cup of Chowder: I’d say Jake DeBrusk is a good candidate. He had a solid rookie season last year, but didn’t end up on many radars due to other rookies having huge years. He probably raised some eyebrows with that Game 7 goal against Toronto, but league-wide, he’s not very well known.
He’s a good player though, and will spend most of the year with a good center in David Krejci. He hasn’t scored yet this season, but he’s looked dangerous most of the time he’s been on the ice. If he can improve even a little bit on his rookie campaign, he should start to generate some press around the league.
Copper and Blue: Finally, do the Bruins have what it takes to win the Atlantic in 2018-19? Why or why not?
Stanley Cup of Chowder: Probably not. Bruins included, the top third of the Atlantic is too good, and will likely beat up on each other all season, meaning one team shouldn’t run way with it. I don’t buy Toronto for a few different reasons, but even if you count the Leafs out, Tampa is better than the Bruins too. There’s too much strong competition. It wouldn’t necessarily surprise me if they did win it, but they only came close last season because of an otherworldly run in the second half. Without that run, they would’ve been firmly in second place.
From most to least likely, I’d say their Atlantic seed would be 2,3,1.
Thanks to Dan for his time. Catch him at Stanley Cup of Chowder, or on Twitter at @bruinshockeynow