Keeping up with the 617: Purgatory

Graphic by Kayla Drazan

At a certain point in a team’s successful run, the discussion of the “championship window closing” becomes a hotbed topic; for the Boston Bruins, it’s all they’ve been hearing since 2019. Although they’ve been to two Stanley Cup finals since their win in 2011, the Bruins continue to fall short of expectations in the most frustrating of fashions. Take for example the recent playoff series loss to the New York Islanders; even though the Islanders took the Tampa Bay Lightning to the brink in the Eastern Conference Finals, they weren’t the better team in the Bruins series. In each loss, the Bruins committed frustrating mistakes that ultimately led to their demise — bad turnovers, horrific shot attempts and undisciplined hockey, just to name a few.

The frustration continued into the 2021–22 season. Ahead of their game against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, the Bruins sat in fifth in the Atlantic Division and three points outside the second Wild Card spot. Although the Bruins have fallen victim to terrible scheduling this season, that excuse doesn’t cover up their poor performances. Stars like David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall, who just signed a four-year contract in the offseason, have been invisible in the offensive zone. Additionally, the goaltending has been abysmal; Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark have lost all their confidence between the pipes and their performances are subsequently hurting this team. I partially agreed with the decision not to sign Tuukka Rask because of injury this offseason, but this tandem simply cannot get it done. Swayman does not perform like a No. 1 starter and Linus Ullmark is lucky to let in only three goals per game.

I understand that this sounds like another spoiled Boston sports fan who is shaming a team for a poor start, and that theory could be correct. We’ve seen Pastrnak and Hall find that extra gear. And last season, Swayman was unstoppable in his short stint with the team. But right now, this is not a playoff hockey team; you cannot keep relying on the Bergeron-Marchand-Pastrnak line to bail out the rest of the team’s poor performance. Hockey is the true definition of a “team sport,” and one line will not lead this team to success.

As much as Bruins fans might try to ignore the sounding alarms, you have to recognize that this might be one of the last seasons of this Bruins “dynasty.” And to be completely honest, I do not see this team making a deep playoff run with the current construction of this roster. Outside of the top line, where is the goal production going to come from? Sans a solid defensive core, this Bruins team has no attractive quality that most NHL playoff teams have. The writing is on the wall for this Bruins team: clean up the undisciplined hockey. Especially with their shaky goaltending, mistakes with the puck in the defensive zone will become costly. This Bruins team is in unfamiliar territory, as they seem to be stuck within the purgatory of NHL teams. These next stretch of games will define the season, and I don’t see this Bruins team escaping the basement anytime soon.

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