Out With the Old, In With the New
Before the beginning of the shortened 2021 NHL season, the Boston Bruins already had several question marks surrounding them. They had let both the offensive minded defenseman, Torey Krug, and their long-time captain, Zdeno Chara, walk. General Manager Don Sweeney explained that he believed that it was time to test the organization’s young defenseman. This experiment did not go as planned.
The Bruins would fall to the New York Islanders in game 6 on Long Island, putting an abrupt end to their Stanley Cup hopes. Despite the sometimes-unbelievable efforts of Bruins’ winger Brad Marchand, the team could not overcome the suffocating defense of the Islanders. The Bruins never necessarily looked completely out of it though, but their weaknesses were exploited by New York. One of those weaknesses were those same young defensemen that Don Sweeny believed were ready.
A Shaky Season
Now not everything can be blamed on those young defensemen nor should they. The Bruins also had a lack of finish, did not get saves when they needed and just could not keep up with the physicality of New York. However, it cannot be denied that the Bruins clearly missed Krug and Chara.
The signs that this experiment was doomed showed themselves during the regular season. After a hot start, the Bruins cooled off, by a lot. Between February 14th and April 11th, the Bruins only won two or more games twice. Part of the reason was because the veteran defenseman the Bruins did have were injured at several points during this period. The young defenseman could not handle the load and were picked apart by the elite offensive talent in the East Division.
Krug and Chara were not going to be playing hockey in Boston forever. Nor would the immediately have solved all the issues Boston had this year. But their experience and leadership on the backend were clearly missed. Even though the Bruins fell in six games, it was a tightly contested series. It is hard not to talk hypotheticals with the Bruins still having Krug, Chara, or both.
Now with the offseason upon them, the Bruins have new problems. Will they resign star players like forwards Taylor Hall and David Krejci? Who will they protect in the upcoming expansion draft? Will they sign an experienced defenseman to attempt to fill the void of Krug and Chara?
This is pivotal offseason for Boston. With stars Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the wrong side of 30, the team could be looking to load up for one final shot at the cup. Alternatively, they could decide to blow it all up and rebuild around young stars Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak. One thing was clear after this season though, Boston’s young defenseman were not ready.
‘From our Haus to yours’