Why Don Sweeney needs to take the blame for the Boston Bruins’ struggles

Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Don Sweeney is to blame for the current predicament the Boston Bruins find themselves in.

It has been a tough start to the 2020-21 NHL season for the Boston Bruins who are 1-1-1, while they have yet to score a single goal at 5-on-5 in three games and they’ve only scored a total of three goals, which obviously isn’t going to get the job done.

They rank dead last in the NHL in Goals For Per Game (1.00) and, with both David Pastrnak and Ondrej Kase out of the lineup, it doesn’t look as though things will improve anytime soon for the Bruins who currently sit sixth in the stacked East Division, although it is still incredibly early days.

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However, this could have easily been avoided and Don Sweeney, the General Manager of the Boston Bruins, has to shoulder the bulk of responsibility for why his team have been so sluggish out of the gate and why their offense is the worst in the NHL right now.

And, before we explain why, consider this; the last time the Bruins went three regular-season games without scoring an even-strength goal was during the 2006-07 season, a year they failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Yikes. And, before you say that it is still the first week of the 2020-21 season, remember this is a shortened 56-game schedule and a slow start could prove costly, especially given the Division the B’s find themselves in.

Don Sweeney is to blame for not fixing the Boston Bruins’ offense

So, back to the main point of the day, why is this Don Sweeney’s fault? Well, first and foremost, he is responsible for building this team and giving Head Coach Bruce Cassidy the best possible ingredients to work with in order to put a winning team out on the ice. They are a partnership but, based on this past offseason, Sweeney didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.

He lost both Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara in Free Agency and failed to replace them and the experience, toughness and offense they brought to the backend, while it is hardly a secret that veteran center David Krejci has lacked a real top-end right winger on that second line.

Sweeney has failed to address the lack of secondary scoring on this team for a few years now, instead relying on that explosive and dynamic top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. This is despite the fact that the Bruins ranked 18th in 5-on-5 goals in the NHL in 2019-20.

Brad Marchand (63)
Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

And Sweeney had the chance to correct those faults by signing one of the purest goalscorers in recent NHL history in Mike Hoffman in Free Agency, but he decided to instead stand pat and Hoffman proceeded to sign a one-year, $4 million contract with the St. Louis Blues late in Training Camp.

Hoffman would have been a huge addition to that top-six unit, particularly in Pastrnak’s absence, and it isn’t too much of a stretch to suggest that the Bruins would have scored at least a couple of 5-on-5 goals if they had the former Florida Panthers winger in the lineup.

There is a way Sweeney can right his wrongs and that is to pull the trigger on a trade for New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, as we mapped out here, but that would involve giving up assets for a 29-year-old winger on an expiring contract when Sweeney could have signed either Hoffman or even Taylor Hall in Free Agency without giving anything up.

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It is clear that the eventual return of David Pastrnak, who scored 48 goals in 2019-20, in a few weeks will boost this struggling offense, but the elite forward can’t carry this team on his own and the lack of secondary scoring isn’t a new problem for the Boston Bruins, so it will be up to General Manager Don Sweeney to do what he’s paid to do and rectify a fatal flaw that he has so far failed to do, or else risk what could be a long and nightmare season for this team if they can’t make it out of a loaded East Division.