1. Can the top line carry this team again?
Where would the Boston Bruins be without one of the best lines in all of hockey in Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak?
It is the million dollar question and one that could get a lot more attention throughout the 2020-21 NHL season.
With huge question marks looming over a new-look and incredibly young defense, a lack of improvement to this roster during the offseason and a failure to address a lack of secondary scoring, there will be even more pressure on Boston’s elite top line to produce the goods in 2020-21.
It will be hard right out of the gates though, given that elite winger David Pastrnak will miss the start of the season after recovering from hip surgery and may not be back until early February.
The good news, however, is that Pastrnak is making progress and is already skating on his own, while Brad Marchand is way ahead of schedule in his recovery from sports hernia surgery and could actually be ready for opening night.
When the Bruins do get Pastrnak back and that top line is reunited, then they will need their reliable trio to do what they do best – create offense. And lots of it.
Because, as we’ve covered in a previous slide, there are legit concerns over the lack of secondary scoring on this team and, once again, General Manager Don Sweeney failed to go out and acquire a top-six winger for David Krejci‘s line.
Sweeney did sign veteran winger Craig Smith in Free Agency, who has recorded at least 30 points in each of his last three seasons, but the 31-year-old looks more of a fit for the third-line alongside center Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork.
Therefore, it will be on Jake DeBrusk to become a ligitmate and consistent scoring threat in the NHL and there will also be big expectations on Ondrej Kase to provide a real offensive punch in his first full season with the B’s, while either of those two could be bumped up to the top line in Pasternak’s absence.
But, given that the top line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak has combined for a staggering 489 points in the last two seasons combined, their importance to this team and to this franchise cannot be underlined.
And, no matter what happens in 2020-21, the Bruins will need that line to produce at a high rate once again, especially in a shortened 56-game season where every single game will count for double, not to mention the fact that the East Division is absolutely stacked and six or seven teams could easily win it.
Plus, with Pastrnak taking that next giant leap in his game in 2019-20 by recording 48 goals and sharing the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy with Alex Ovechkin, the right-winger will be expected to once again light the lamp at a crazy rate in order to ensure this team stays afloat in a highly-competitive East Division.
So, while so much of the Boston Bruins will be new and unknown in 2020-21, their one constant will never be more important and could prove to be the difference between ultimate success or perhaps a further changing of the guard in 2021-22.
Only time will tell.