The 2023-24 Bruins are going to be worse.
That’s not a prognostication rooted in fear-mongering or a bitter disposition that’s normally saved for the radio waves.
It’s an immutable shift that plagues even the best sports activities franchises over the regular decay of time.
Simply look to the newest iteration of Ozymandias presently crumbling away in Foxborough for additional proof.
Granted, any Bruins fan from Bar Harbor to Barnstable may discern that their beloved workforce’s fortunes have been set to shift this winter.
After rewriting the report books with 65 wins and 135 factors in 2022-23, the Bruins may solely go downhill from there.
A painful summer time — beginning with a crushing first-round exit — strengthened that sentiment.
Gone are Boston’s one-two punch down the center in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci — two franchise pillars who saved this workforce’s rivalry window ajar for over 15 years collectively.
A self-inflicted cap crunch introduced alongside by a flurry of win-now maneuvers led to different key cogs like Taylor Corridor, Dmitry Orlov, and Tyler Bertuzzi donning new sweaters this fall.
What stays is a revamped Bruins workforce setting a path towards uncharted waters.
That uncertainty isn’t misplaced on the remaining regulars in a quickly altering dressing room.
“There is perhaps some video games on the again finish after which inside the internet that we’re gonna should steal this yr,” Brandon Carlo stated earlier in coaching camp.
Nevertheless it’s a roster that’s removed from rudderless.
It’s solely pure for Bruins followers to anticipate extra ache within the years forward, particularly after a storybook ending was ripped from the pages of final yr’s presumed last kick on the can.
However for all the discuss of a protracted stretch of mediocrity and the invoice coming due for a franchise fixated for years on getting its previous guard one other shot at a Stanley Cup, that script isn’t the one being penned by Boston’s new guard.
“This subsequent flip of the web page right here, this subsequent chapter of Bruins historical past goes to be written by us,” Charlie McAvoy stated Monday. Clearly, [Brad] being the lone man left. All of us have one thing to show. That’s me. That’s [David Pastrnak]. That’s [Brandon Carlo]. That’s [Hampus Lindholm].”
The 2023-24 Bruins could not have the luxurious of getting two star facilities anchoring their lineup, nor will Jim Montgomery have the depth available to fit a former Hart Trophy winner like Corridor right down to the bottom-six unit.
However the foundations that anchored Boston’s unprecedented success final season stay in place.
Whilst Montgomery and his workers attempt to rework its ahead corps on the fly, Boston continues to be buoyed by arguably the very best 1-2 tandem between the pipes in Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman. 5 of the six defensemen who helped Boston soar as much as a 43-8-5 report earlier than the 2023 commerce deadline stay in place.
With Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm in place, the Bruins can have a Norris-caliber defenseman out on the ice for 40-plus minutes of a 60-minute contest on most nights.
“Some type of stability, possibly you would say. Everyone’s again,” McAvoy stated of Boston’s D corps and goalie tandem. “And we gotta lead from the goalie out. Greatest tandem in hockey final yr, and if we are able to do our job in entrance of them, we may give them a great likelihood to do it once more.
“They’re two distinctive goalies. Everyone on our D corps, we introduced in some guys which can be solely going to assist our group. So I feel if we get our two goalies and our D, we are able to work our means ahead.”
Boston received’t pack the identical punch offensively. Questions will proceed to hover round each Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle as they slot into vital top-six roles down the center. However the Bruins nonetheless wield a couple of offensive cheat codes on the wing in 61-goal scorer David Pastrnak, Marchand, and Jake DeBrusk.
The change discovered additional down Boston’s lineup opens the door for loads of uncertainty.
Nevertheless it additionally gives up loads of alternative, with these reps seized by youthful gamers like Matthew Poitras and Johnny Beecher. As Boston appears to construct a sustainable core for the post-Bergeron period, that duo — together with Mason Lohrei — may weave themselves into the material of this franchise with a powerful first foray towards NHL competitors in 2023-24.
And in a season the place the Bruins can pay homage to many bruising rosters of yesteryear, it’s solely becoming that Boston’s centennial marketing campaign may see this workforce revert again to its sandpaper fashion of play.
Along with his workforce’s scoring depth sapped, Don Sweeney added loads of heft this summer time within the type of Milan Lucic (6-foot-3, 236 kilos), James Van Riemsdyk (6-foot-3, 208 kilos), and Morgan Geekie (6-foot-3, 203 kilos).
Add in different bottom-six bruisers in Trent Frederic (6-foot-3, 220 kilos), Jakub Lauko (6-foot-1, 193 kilos) and Beecher (6-foot-3, 216 kilos), and the Bruins may increase their DNA into extra a punishing, forecheck-heavy squad that may grind out wins and land loads of welts alongside the way in which.
Maybe it’s an archaic mind-set so far as roster building. However simply ask a forecheck-heavy Panthers workforce if such a method can repay within the postseason.
And with new captain Brad Marchand seeking to stamp his personal imprint over a motivated roster, it wouldn’t come as a lot of a shock if the Bruins do their finest to rankle no matter opponent stands in entrance of them this season.
“It’s not essentially the very best workforce that wins the Stanley Cup, nevertheless it’s the workforce that’s taking part in the very best hockey that wins the Stanley Cup, and that was definitely true final yr,” Bruins chief government officer Charlie Jacobs stated. “Once more, the stress, the expectation, we’re the Boston Bruins, we’re an Unique Six workforce, we’re celebrating our one centesimal anniversary.
“I feel everybody right here understands the gravity of the chance, and the gravity of what we have now in entrance of us for this upcoming season.”
The Bruins will want loads of fall their means in the event that they need to surpass the outcomes that final yr’s roster achieved.
Two of Coyle, Zacha, and Poitras might want to hit at vital areas of the roster. Supporting cast-members like Frederic, van Riemsdyk and Geekie all must drive play. As soon as once more, Boston might want to keep away from the sting of the harm bug.
Nevertheless it’s an train that’s not restricted to only the Bruins. Not in a maddening, unpredictable sport the place a fourth-string goalie in Vegas simply beat an eighth-seeded Panthers workforce within the Stanley Cup Closing.
So go forward, doubt the 2023-24 Bruins.
You definitely received’t be the primary one.
Should you ask the fixtures nonetheless presiding within the dressing room, that’ll simply make the story even sweeter.
“None of us have received, [we’ve] been proper there and we’ve gone so far as you possibly can go,” McAvoy stated of Boston’s new management. “And we have now some expertise. However what’s our legacy going to be? I feel that’s one thing I’m making an attempt to internalize.
“I’ve received a variety of time left right here that I’m extraordinarily grateful for and we’ve received to be constructing one thing good. I feel that’s what we’re doing.”
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