By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
On Monday the Bruins brass – aka general manager Don Sweeney and team president Cam Neely – met with what seemed like a shoebox full of B’s fans, in the annual “State of the Bruins” gathering at TD Garden just two weeks before the NHL’s trade deadline on February 25th.
And while it is about as likely that any news would be generated by such a team staged hug-fest – which by the looks of the existing photos of the shindig could have taken place in a medium-sized walk-in closet – Sweeney did acknowledge that the team that calls Causeway Street home could use a “little boost” on offense.
Wow, do you think so?
Despite some hiccups along the way, the Black and Gold’s team defense has been outstanding this season. Having only surrendered 145 goals against through 56 games thus far – good for third best in the NHL behind the New York Islanders (133 GA, 55 GP) and the Dallas Stars (140 GA, 55 GP) – has been the reason that this heavily front-loaded team has found a way to manage to keep their head above water despite losing foundational players like Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara for significant stretches this past fall.
And despite the resiliency that they have shown at times during this campaign, there is still a huge gap between the top of their roster offensively, and the cliff that falls off – might just be a show topic that might actually carry some weight, Max Kellerman – after you get by second-line center David Krejci on the list of Bruins scoring leaders.
So far this season, the B’s as a team have amassed a total of 440 points of offense. Their top four forwards – David Pastrnak (31 G, 35 A, 66 pts.), Brad Marchand (21 G, 44 A, 65 pts.), Bergeron (20 G, 31 A, 51 pts.), and David Krejci (12 G, 31 A, 43 pts.) have accounted for 225 of those, which equates to a whopping 51% of the Bruins scoring offence.
When you add defenseman Torey Krug’s 39 points (5 G, 34 A), you get 264 of the 440 points recorded this season, a head-spinning 60% of Boston’s offense nearly 60% through the 2018-19 regular season schedule.
Please feel free to stop me when those of you of a certain age look back at the Neely/Ray Bourque late ’80s/early 90s teams that would rip it up in the regular season, only to be shut down when the real hockey began the second week of April every year.
For as much promise as those who wear black and gold blinders see in the potential prospects that Sweeney has supposedly stockpiled in the Bruins system in the draft the last few years, no one other than Danton Heinen (a paltry 8 G, 8 A, 16 pts. in 52 games played this season) and Jake DeBrusk (an underwhelming 14 G, 5 A, 19 pts. in 47 GP) has shown that they can compete at the NHL level, and both have taken a step back in their sophomore seasons.
When asked by a fan what he could do to address such an obvious need at the fast-approaching deadline, Sweeney wryly said, “I wish I could grab Harry Potter’s wand, for crying out loud, tap you on the head, and you’d tell me exactly who I need to trade for.”
Continuing along the lines of his team’s lack of scoring depth, the Bruins GM added, “The Achilles’ heel…we’ve been wondering what our team looked like with some balance, when it’s healthy. We can still a little boost in that area.”
Which, of course, would be a great audition tape to use for the role of Captain Obvious in the Hotel.com commercial spots, if this NHL executive thing doesn’t work out down the road.
This current Bruins team – for the most part – is a fun to watch group. On most nights – although there have been more in-game lapses in play/concentration of late – you know that you are going to see a good effort and a team that is playing for each other when they take to the ice.
However, realistically speaking, unless Sweeney somehow figures out a way to pull a couple of rabbits out of his hat in the next couple of weeks, not even Harry Potter could turn this roster that is overloaded with plumbers into Stanley Cup contenders before the NHL’s second season begins two months from now.