Boston Bruins, led by youthful swagger, look the real deal in 2020-21

The Boston Bruins celebrate. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Boston Bruins celebrate. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

These Boston Bruins are something special.

We’re over a quarter of a way through the 2020-21 NHL season and the Boston Bruins look an absolute juggernaut right now, sitting on top of the stacked East Division with a 11-3-2 record and a Goal Differential of +15.

Now, the Bruins aren’t the best team in the National Hockey League, that honor belongs to the Toronto Maple Leafs right now, but they are playing as one of the best teams in the entire league right now and it is impressive considering the amount of upheaval this franchise went through during the offseason.

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After all, it was yet another summer where B’s General Manager Don Sweeney failed to add a legitimate top-six winger to put on David Krejci‘s line, despite the fact that Mike Hoffman was available as a Free Agent, while offensive defenseman Torey Krug signed with the St. Louis Blues in Free Agency and Captain and franchise icon Zdeno Chara signed with the Washington Capitals in a move that shocked the entire hockey word.

Rough would be one word to sum up Boston’s offseason. As a result, this team was returning an aging core that did not look like themselves in the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs, coupled with a completely new-look blueline that had an average age of 26. Oh, not to mention the fact that both Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were slated to miss the start of the 2020-21 season after both underwent surgery during the offseason.

Well, maybe those who claimed that the window had officially closed for the Boston Bruins were a little bit too eager given the scene that is currently playing out in-front of us as we speak. Now, again, it is still early but this current vintage look a formidable force and they resemble a team that could do a lot of damage in the postseason.

Charlie McAvoy (73)
Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73). Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Boston Bruins look the real deal so far in 2020-21 NHL Season

Having put together a perfect blend of youth and experience, speed and skill and plenty of firepower, the Bruins have been a class above in what is an ultra-competitive East Division and the scary thing is that they could get even better as certain players hit their stride and others return from injury.

Just look at what they did on Sunday against a stunning backdrop at Lake Tahoe, destroying the Philadelphia Flyers in a 7-3 win and getting contributions from up and down the lineup, with Charlie Coyle, Charlie McAvoy, Nick Ritchie and Trent Frederic all lighting the lamp while David Pastrnak stole the show with his 10th career hat trick and his second of the season against the Flyers.

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Pastrnak has been sensational since his return from hip injury with 14 points (9 G, 5 A) in 9 games, while “The Perfection Line” has combined for 53 points with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand somehow only getting better the older the get.

And, while a lack of secondary scoring is still somewhat of a problem, it has been slightly better this season with gritty forward Nick Ritchie emerging as a surprise offensive weapon with 13 points (6 G, 7 A) in 16 games, while the likes of Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle have all chipped in with valuable contributions.

Boston Bruins
The Boston Bruins (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Then there is Charlie McAvoy who, at just 23-years-old, was tasked with becoming the face and the leader of this blueline unit following the offseason departures of both Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug. Well, while it was a lot to ask, McAvoy has delivered in a big way so far and he’s morphing into the franchise defenseman that the Bruins have long hoped he was.

He is on pace to carve out his best offensive year with 13 points (2 G, 11 A) in 16 games, he’s logging 24:19 of ATOI, his underlying metrics are impressive, he’s playing in all situations and playing big roles on both the power play and the penalty kill, and he’s recorded 32 blocked shots, 21 hits and eight Takeaways.

McAvoy is doing it all for the Bruins and he’s providing the kind of physical play that Chara did, while also ensuring that the kind of offense Krug brought to the table didn’t completely disappear either. And, the 23-year-old is only likely to get better too especially once he gets some teammates back with the likes of Jeremy Lauzon, Matt Grzelcyk, Kevan Miller and Jakub Zboril having all gone down with injuries recently.

Then there is the goaltending which has been stellar with Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak continuing to be an elite tandem in the NHL, in a year where having two high-level goalies should pay off more than usual given the shortened schedule. Halak is 4-1-1 with a 1.66 Goals Against Average and a .928 Save Percentage, while Rask is 7-2-1 with a 2.56 GAA and a .901 SV%.

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And, projected to have around $15 million in cap space at the NHL Trade Deadline according to CapFriendly, don’t be surprised if Don Sweeney makes a big move or two to add a legit-top four defenseman and a top-six scoring winger to help what is a team currently playing near to the peak of their powers right now, and if that was to happen then don’t be surprised if the Boston Bruins finish the regular-season with a flourish and then proceed to embark on a deep postseason run because, given how they are playing right now, they may be only one or two pieces away from being a real legit contender come the most important time of year.