Next up is the Don Sweeney-led Boston Bruins. Even though I refer to them as the Don Sweeney-led Boston Bruins, it is clear that Team President, Cam Neely, is a hands-on type who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. The Bruins qualified in the first wildcard position last season and went out in round one in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Fired Head Coach Bruce Cassidy on June 6th after six seasons at the helm
Hired Jim Montgomery as Head Coach July 7th
Signed F Patrice Bergeron to a one-year $2.5 million deal
Re-Signed F Pavel Zacha to a one-year deal $3.5 million deal
Signed F David Krejci to a one-year $1 million deal
Remaining cap space: ($2,241,667.00)
Here is the Roster for the Bruins heading into training camp.
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Brad Marchand (inj.) Patrice Bergeron (inj.) David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall Pavel Zacha Jake DeBrusk
Tomas Nosek Craig Smith Nick Foligno
Trent Frederick David Krecji Chris Wagner/Oskar Steen
Left Defense Right Defense
Hampus Lindholm Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzelcyk Brandon Carlo
Derek Forbort Mike Reilly
Jakub Zboril Connor Clifton
On May 19th, Cam Neely (aka Sea Bass) went on record as saying: “I think we have to look at making some changes as far as how we play and the way we do some of the things,” said Neely. “I think Bruce is a fantastic coach...he's brought a lot of success to this organization. I like him as a coach. So, we'll see where it goes.”
To no one’s surprise, Don Sweeney announced three weeks later that Cassidy would not return for the final year of his contract despite having made the playoffs each year and having made the Cup finals and conference finals during his run. Hockey really is a what have you done for me lately business, isn’t it?
I saved the Bruins for last in my analysis of the Atlantic division as they occupied one of the two spots the Senators will be vying for this season, but also as I see them as slowly coming to the end of the runway. The best part is, they know it too. If you look at their off season moves, they clearly know that the towel is almost completely rung dry, and they are trying to squeeze everything they can out of their core players. At an average age of 28, they are the 8th oldest team in the league.
Here is the S.W.O.T. analysis for the aging Bruins.
The Bruins are deep in experienced players who have played in the big games. This is something you can’t teach and clearly something they have that the Senators don’t.
The Bruins strength lies in their defense core led by Charlie McAvoy. The Senators have trouble justifying a legitimate top four and the Bruins have a legitimate top five. With McAvoy and Lindholm, they have their two cornerstone pieces on defense for the seven-player profile.
They have two legitimate goalies who can play and be successful. Ullmark and Swayman could not have split the duties anymore evenly last year having started 41 games each. They both saw playoff action as well.
If I were a Bruins fan, I would be concerned about their lack of scoring depth upfront. It will be tested immediately out of the gate as Marchand is slated to miss at least a couple of months due to hip surgery he underwent in May.
Bergeron is expected to be back to start the season after having left elbow tendon surgery in May. However, at 37, the question begs as to how much he could possibly have left in him? He performed at nearly a point per game clip last year with Marchand. It will be interesting to see how he can get along without him for an extended period.
Beyond the Perfection line of Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak, it’s hard to see where the secondary offense is going to come from that can allow them to compete.
With the Bruins over the cap as it is, it’s hard to see where they can overcome Marchand’s injury. There is always the Long-Term Injured Reserve that they are surely to use with Marchand to allow themselves to be cap compliant.
However, Marchand is only slated to miss a couple of months. I don’t see an opportunity to pull a Kucherov Maneuver by burying Machand until playoff time and replacing him with someone to help get them to the playoffs.
I’ve got nothing here.
The move to replace Cassidy is a puzzling one in my eyes. He had one year left on his deal and he had guided the Bruins to the playoffs every year while winning at least one round in four of the six appearances.
Anyone can see that the Bruins peaked in 2019 with their loss in the Cup Final to St. Louis. If this year is to be their final kick at the can, why it would make sense to replace him with someone outside the organization rather than stick with the guy who knows the players best seems like change for change’s sake.
The general consensus is that Jim Montgomery is an excellent coach who appears to have gotten his affairs in order since being dismissed by the Dallas Stars in 2020. Perhaps a fresh voice is what that room needs.
I see the Bruins as being ripe to be picked. They will not be easily overcome as veteran experience counts for something in the NHL. Winning with expectations is something that the Bruins players have done that the Senators’ core have not. When the Senators host the Bruins on October 18th without Brad Marchand in the lineup, the expectation will be that they win.
The Bruins are also solid from the crease out and through the defense core. This gives any team a chance to win if they play the right system.
That said, with Marchand being sidelined to start the season and no clear backfill to replace his offense, I see the Senators advantage in firepower outweighing the Bruins deeper and more stable defense core early in the season. I think the Bruins will be playing catch up most of the season and it will cost them in the end.
The eight points up for grabs between the two teams will go a long way to determining who gets the nod.
I have not done a S.W.O.T. analysis of the Montreal Canadiens as they are in full rebuild mode and expectations for them are very low for the upcoming season(s). They are not a threat to steal a playoff spot. They are, however, a threat to spoil the Senators bid for one.
All teams in the Atlantic would be wise to stock up on points at the expense of the Habs to ensure they don’t regret that one cold Saturday in January or February when they let one get away and end up finishing on the outside looking in.
I have also not done a S.W.O.T Analysis of the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Buds. These teams are a threat to the Senators, but not their playoff hopes as I believe they will be the top three again this year.
Here is my prediction for the Atlantic Division standings:
Toronto Maple Leafs
Tampa Bay Lightning
Detroit Red Wings
I know it might be hard to admit, but the dreaded blue team is poised for a big regular season. In fact, if the Senators do qualify for the playoffs, I think they could be looking at their first series against Toronto since 2004. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
In our next report, we'll continue our S.W.O.T. Analysis with a look at the Metropolitan Division.
By Pat Maguire | Sens Nation Hockey