The Boston Bruins go into the offseason with a lot of optimism for the future. This was a young team that arrived ahead of schedule this year. In early November, I recall being at a wedding reception here in New England and talking about the B’s prospects with a friend whose hockey knowledge I particularly respect. We agreed that simply making the playoffs was probably the most that could be expected from a team breaking in so many young players.
Instead, shortly after that, Boston found its legs and got on a roll. A 10-3 stretch through December got them some breathing room in the playoff push and they never looked back. By the time all was said and done, the Bruins had 112 points, fourth-best in the NHL. Head coach Bruce Cassidy is a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year. The Bruins were at or near the top of the league most of the season in both goals scored and goals against.
The young players emerged—David Pastrnak had already arrived last season and he was joined by Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrust and Danton Heinen. The excellent Bruins teams of 2009-14 were big and physical, much like a football team that pounded the ball into the middle of the line with success. This current edition of the B’s is much faster.
There’s still work to do. Youthful players were often out of position at key points in the first-round series against Toronto and it took a four-goal eruption in the third period of Game 7 to survive that and avoid a long offseason. Boston simply looked outclassed by Tampa Bay for too much of their second-round defeat. But the building blocks are there.
Now the question remains—is Tuuka Raask the right goalie? It’s a hot question among Boston sports fans and in a hockey-crazed market, one that inspires passion both ways. No one doubts he’s good, but can he take the final step and win a Stanley Cup?
It’s that question I explored in more detail over at Noontime Sports, a New England site run by Matt Noonan. Noontime does a terrific job covering the local college scene here and I was glad to contribute a guest piece exploring the Bruins future, particularly the resume of Tuuka Raask.