This time, there was a good reason to bury the Bruins.
Posted at 11:04 am
Injured, his best defender, Charlie McAvoy, would miss at least the first half of the season. Same for Brad Marchand. At 37, his number one center, Patrice Bergeron, had contemplated retirement; David Krejci was going to try to fill a gap in the center of the second row at 36 years old after a season in the Czech Republic.
And there was this new coach, Montrealer Jim Montgomery, on the road to redemption after being fired in Dallas in December 2019 due to his alcohol addiction.
Here we are in November, and as of Thursday morning, the Bruins had the best record in the National Hockey League: 9-1-0, 45 goals scored, 26 allowed.
David Pastrnak has found momentum from the good times with 18 points from 10 games, Hampus Lindholm has made up for the loss of McAvoy on defense, Bergeron and Krejci are producing at a rate of one point per game, goalkeeper Linus Ullmark is off to a start phenomenal and Marchand just got back in the game…
The Bruins’ managers, president Cam Neely and GM Don Sweeney, work in an unusual way, but their creativity is to be saluted.
Clearly, they couldn’t have built such an interesting lineup without the selflessness of their captain Bergeron, who agreed to return to the game for a year for a $2.5 million salary, arguably the NHL’s bargain of the decade.
The acquisition of Hampus Lindholm is a good example of the Neely and Sweeney experience. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound, 28-year-old defender, capable of playing 24 minutes a game, brilliant on offense and defense, doesn’t run the streets.
Lindholm would enjoy his autonomy in July. The Bruins offered young defenseman Urho Vaakanainen, their first-round pick in 2022 and two second-round picks, in 2023 and 2024, to the Ducks for him, then nimbly signed him to an eight-year contract extension on an annual salary. of 6.5 million.
For Neely and Sweeney, a 22me overall pick (the Ducks drafted Nathan Gaucher with that pick) and two second-round picks were worth more than the sacrifice for a top left back over the next eight years.
In the Bruins’ spectacular win over the Penguins on Tuesday, in which Boston erased a 5-1 deficit, Lindholm had 29:47 and had four points, including the game-winning goal in overtime.
Lindholm’s 11 points in 10 games is an anomaly, as he averages about thirty points a season, but this Swedish defender will be worth his weight in gold for a long time in Boston.
Let’s also remember how the Bruins landed Taylor Hall. They traded only Anders Bjork and a second-round pick to the Sabers when Hall’s value plummeted.
Hall, 30, may not be the prolific striker he once was, but he scored 61 points last year and already has five goals in ten games. His six million contract for another three years is reasonable. He allows Boston to better balance their lines.
The arrival of Pavel Zacha is another good example of a wise acquisition. The sixth overall pick in 2015, Zacha was viewed by many Devils fans as a disappointing young center. It is true that he never lived up to expectations.
For the Bruins, he was a 25-year-old center in his place on a third line, but also capable of playing a role on an offensive line, on the flank and in the middle. The price was not exorbitant: Erik Haula, 31, 44 points last year, one of the best productions of his career.
Zacha started the season on the left, then replaced the fallen Krejci at center for Hall and Pastrnak. He has six points after ten games. He may be able to break the 40-point mark for the first time in his career. He would have done it in 2021 for a full season as he had 35 points in 50 games.
The creative genius of the Bruins’ coaches allows them to make up for their weakness in the draft. Since Charlie McAvoy in 2016, no youngster apart from goalkeeper Jeremy Swayman has managed to break the formation permanently. Admittedly, the Bruins didn’t crack the top 15 during that stretch, going without a first-round pick three of six times.
Fabian Lysell is possibly their best hope. this 21me The 2021 overall pick had nine points in seven games in his first year in the American League. It’s pretty skinny after him.
But if the past is any guarantor of the future, the Bruins will no doubt be able to find a 25-year-old, 26-year-old center the day Bergeron and Krejci retire. At the moment, the Québécois does not give the impression of being a player at the end of his career.
An earlier version of this article mistakenly attributed a quote about Auston Matthews to Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella. However, this widely circulated quote comes from a parody account. Our apologies for this misunderstanding.
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