Glaring issues with the Boston Bruins

Sketch of the Boston Bruins logo.

For the first time in about five years, the Boston Bruins look like a team that could be a fringe playoff team and appear on the decline. Now with the recent news that Jake DeBrusk has requested a trade, head coach Bruce Cassidy has also been put in the COVID-19 protocol. To top it all off, Brad Marchand has been suspended three games for slew footing Oliver Ekman-Larson. It's safe to say things appear to be going from bad to worse for the Bruins.

The Bruins are currently fifth in the Atlantic Division and are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs going into December. Although Boston has a decent winning percentage—and we are only a quarter of the way through the regular season—the Bruins have looked far from their typical selves at the beginning of this season.

Arguably the biggest issue the Bruins have had this season has been their defense. Only three defensemen who have played over five regular season games have a plus-minus rating above even. Defensive breakdowns and turnovers on the defensive end of the ice have plagued the Bruins all season. Perhaps a trade would be best to help improve this defensive core the Bruins have. It is becoming more clear by the day that the offseason signing of Derek Forbort wasn't nearly enough to beef up the defense.

The next issue the Bruins have faced this season has been their goaltending. Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have not played up to snuff this season, and that can go hand in hand with the fact that the defense in front of them has been suspect all season. However, one can begin to wonder whether it was worth it to trade Dan Vladar, who is currently 4–0–1 on the season with a .946 save percentage, just to sign Ullmark to starter money, who is just 5–3 with a .914 save percentage. Unfortunately for Bruins fans, it appears that by the end of this season we could be looking at Tuukka Rask being the starting goaltender once again. This would be a massive disappointment considering it finally seemed like the Bruins were ready to move on from Rask, but it looks like he may still be the best option even after coming off a torn labrum. 

I am used to saying that the Bruins are a top-heavy team, but this season might be taking it to a whole new level. Like every season, the Bruins' top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak continues to show why they are one of the best lines in hockey, but after that they have a decent second line and a mediocre bottom six. Then when you look at their defense, it seems like the only guy who shows up every game is Charlie McAvoy—who, by the way, has more points than any player on the second line—along with the best plus-minus rating on the team at a plus five. All season the Bruins have looked flat. They are 15th in goal differential and currently 24th in the league in goals scored. 

The Bruins are in need of a shakeup. Whether it will come via an in-season trade or if it comes next offseason will depend on their record going into the trade deadline. One might wonder if the several offseason additions might end up hurting their chances at making some sort of in-season trade due to cap space issues. Nonetheless, the Bruins need a jolt of energy and fast, or else they could find themselves falling down the standings.

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