It’s fianlly here. The NHL will be playing a full 82 game season for the first time since 2018-2019. No more cold fall and early winter nights without hockey becuase it’s back and this time we don’t have to listen to Pierre McGuire. Unfortunelty though for Bruins fans, we have to wait just a few more days longer as the B’s begin play this Saturday. But it does give me some time to spew some Bruins season predictions.
Where Will Boston Finish In the Standings?
This season the NHL will return to its traditional divisions. This is good news for Boston which had to play in arguably the most competitive of the Covid divisions. However, the good old Atlantic is not a cakewalk. The Bruins will be competing with the likes of the Lightning, Panthers, Leafs, and the Habs. The loss of pieces such as David Krejci as well also adds to the challenge this year. But a good part of the core is still playing which gives Boston a good fighting chance which means my Bruins season predictions won’t be too pessimistic.
First things first, Boston most likely will not win the division in 2022. When you have to play in the same division as Tampa, that’s unfortunately a given. Boston did take the top spot from Tampa in 2020, but they were assisted by a Covid shortened season. They also had some key faces still around, most notably their former captain, Zdeno Chara. This will be a different Bruins team this season, one with even more question marks behind the first line.
Florida and Tampa Bay are a lot more solid teams than Boston currently is. On paper, I just cannot see Boston finishing ahead of either of those two. I can see Boston finishing above the Leafs and the Habs though. This offseason, Toronto did not change all that much, mainly getting depth signings. As for Montreal, they look like they got worse. Both those teams arguably overachieved last year while playing in a weak division. The most likely situation this year to me would see Boston finishing third in the Atlantic right in between the two Florida teams and the two Original 6 Canadian teams.
What About Their Cup Chances?
The fun part about making Cup predictions this far in advance is being able to look back in six to seven months to see how wrong they were. But that’s not going to stop me. I would love to say that a part of my Bruins season predictions will be that they march to the Cup, but realistically I just can’t see that happening this year with this team. I already talked about how the Bruins will be competing with Florida and Tampa in the Atlantic again this regular season. Unfortunately, that also means they will be playing them in the playoffs as well.
Boston can put up a fight, but both the Panthers and Lightning are just better-built teams. I could imagine a series between Boston and Florida where Boston can squeak out a win in six or seven games due to the experience of the Bruins. But then they would probably go on to play Tampa, who has been a playoff demon for Boston it seems. Do not be surprised if the Bruins exit in the second round yet again in 2022. Which is sad to think considering the age of their core.
Bruins GM Don Sweeney is aware of his aging team. Typically teams in Boston’s position either go all in or blow it all up. The Bruins are still competitive even with their questionable offensive depth. It could just be a matter of making the right trade. Perhaps before or at the trade deadline the Bruins do bring in that difference-maker. All the Bruins need to be a contender is the depth behind their “Perfection Line.” Maybe if that big trade happens, they can make it out of the second round.
Some Player Pefromance Predicitons
With the Bruins looking like they will lean on their top line, even more, this season, expect the usual big numbers out of their top three. With it being a full season again too, expect those numbers to be bigger than ever. David Pastrnak was denied a 50 goal season in 2020 due to the shutdown, but now he has a chance to finally reach that mark. 2022 could be the first 50 goal season of many for Pasta.
Charlie McAvoy is also geared to potentially have a big season. The young defenseman has been improving each season and has already cemented himself as one of the premiere blue-liners in the NHL. With the absence of Zdeno Chara last year, McAvoy took the bigger responsibility in stride. As McAvoy gets more comfortable in his role, expect some stellar defense out of him. Don’t also be surprised if he is one of the finalists this year for the Norris Trophy (or perhaps even the winner).
The Bruin right now with the most eyes on him is Charlie Coyle. Coyle is set to replace David Krejci in between Craig Smith and Taylor Hall on the second line. Many are wondering if Coyle is ready for this responsibility. I think he is. Just looking at his performance when he is healthy, Coyle can be a difference-maker on the ice. This year could be a huge breakout year for Coyle. And perhaps if that’s the case, then the Bruins don’t need to make a big trade.
Take All of This With a Grain of Salt
No one can predict exactly what will happen in an NHL season. Everyone’s seen the tweets of old screenshots of preseason predictions that weren’t even close. The NHL is just so wild that for all we know, the Buffalo Sabres could have a surprise playoff appearance. Pretty much what I’m getting at is do not take what I just said as fact, especially with how many question marks are surrounding Boston this season. But if I am correct on my predictions, then I knew all along because I am the smartest hockey fan in the unknown universe. Otherwise, these Bruins season predictions are meant to create discussions and hopefully not Twitter ratios.
Hi, I’m RJ Oakley and I’m the Bruins beat writer here at Belly Up Sports. Check back here and follow me on Twitter for news and discussion on the B’s. Be sure to follow Belly Up Hockey as well for all your NHL needs!