(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
There is no doubt that Boston has experienced a flurry of offseason activity over the past several months. With the Red Sox hiring Dave Dombrowski, the Celtics adding pieces like David Lee and Amir Johnson, and the Patriots parting ways with two of their best defensive players, it's easy to see how even the long break was entertaining for Boston fans. The argument could be made that among the top four teams in this city, the Bruins have made the most intriguing moves so far.
"The Big Bad Bruins" is the repuation that this team has built over the last few seasons. With hard hitting names including Chara, Lucic, Boychuk and Thornton, its easy to see how that nickname came about. However, the Bruins have almost gone in the exact opposite direction in the last few months, with three of those names no longer wearing black and gold. The Bruins were fortunate enough to win a Stanley Cup with their own bruising style of play, but the league is changing and the front office knows it.
Defense has been the key to the Bruins success over the last few years, and the offense has been just good enough to keep them in contention. The same cannot be said this year. The defense, led by an aging Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, has been anything but steady to start the season. Although Chara looks like he is nearing the end of his career, Seidenberg has vastly improved since last season after coming off a back injury. Colin Miller, who came to Boston from LA in the Lucic deal, has been one of the few signs of life for this defense with his fast skating and blistering slapshot.
Bruins fans have become accustomed to low scoring, sometimes boring, games that end with them losing 1-0 in a shootout. For those of us who enjoy goals, this season has been a pleasant surprise, with the B's tied for 5th in goals scored, and ranked #1 on the power play (28.9%). Bergeron tops the points for the B's with 32 in 33 games played. Brad Marchand leads the Bruins with 15 goals, but a big surprise is Loui Eriksson in second with 13. So far, Eriksson has played like the player we all hoped for when Chiarelli dealt Tyler Seguin to Dallas. So, with a bad defense and a very good offense, what does this mean for the Bruins going forward?
It's easy to fall in love with a player when he is rising above all expectations, and that is the case for Loui Eriksson this year. This has been the best hockey Eriksson has played since he put on the 8 spoked B, but that does not mean he will be with the team if they make the playoffs. Loui would be a great addition to any team in contention looking to add a little more offensive fire power. What the Bruins are looking for is a top defender to help this defense and possibly reduce Chara's ice time so he can be more rested come the playoffs. The Bruins offense will take a hit with his departure but hopefully with the return of David Pastrnak, the offense will still be effective enough to stay in contention.
Adding a top defender will sure up the ice in front of Tuukka, and may even allow him to have an off night and still get 2 points. A veteran defenseman can allow the younger players, like Miller, to play more aggressive and make mistakes without giving up goals and shattering their confidence.
THE BIG QUESTION: ARE THE BRUINS A STANLEY CUP CONTENDER RIGHT NOW?
Even with a #2 spot in the division, I believe the answer is no. That doesn't mean the season is over and you should stop watching, because that answer can be changed to a yes with a few moves. With Chiarelli gone and Sweeney at the helm, hopefully moves will be made at the deadline that help this team return to the Stanley Cup. We'll just have to wait and see.
By Matt Watts