2022-23 NHL season preview: Boston Bruins look to navigate around early-season obstacles
Updated: Sep 14, 2022
For the previous entry in this series of 2022-23 season previews where I cover the expectations of the Arizona Coyotes, click here.
(John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
2022-23 marks a new era in Boston Bruins hockey. After firing head coach Bruce Cassidy, the Bruins brought in former Dallas Stars head coach, Jim Montgomery. Montgomery stated that his main mission this season is to get better production from his offense, an offense that finished 15th last season with a 3.09 goals per game. Montgomery planes to engage his offense by going through his defense. I know, that probably sounds weird out of context, but Montgomery believes that the key to running a successful hockey team is to have top-notch communication between his players, and he looks to improve chemistry on the ice and in the locker room by putting a huge emphasis on communication between his guys.
Will this be easier said than done for the players? Bruce Cassidy coached the Providence Bruins from 2008 till 2016, where he would then go on to take over the Boston Bruins from 2016 until 2022. Having been an integral part of the Bruins organization at almost every level for the better half of 15 years, Cassidy has seen mostly every home-grown Bruins player on the current roster go through a system that he helped shape. You’d have to think, are guys like Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Charlie McAvoy, and David Pastrnak going to be able to adapt to a new style of coaching as quickly as Montgomery hopes they will? Can you truly teach an old dog(s) new tricks? Only time will tell.
Being able to adapt to a new head coach is the first early-season obstacle for the 2022-23 Bruins, but perhaps their biggest challenge will be having to start the season with two key pieces of their roster missing some time due to injury, and new faces on the front line.
Bruins stars Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy are expected to miss at least the first two months of the season after undergoing surgeries in the offseason. Marchand underwent surgery on both hips, while McAvoy had a procedure performed on his left shoulder.
Now, you can’t truly ever replace the impact that those two guys have on the team. Marchand is one of the true greats of his generation, and much like a fine wine (as much as I hate to say it) he seems to only get better with age. McAvoy is the Bruins top defenseman and a top-5 defenseman in the entire NHL. Getting off to a fast start will be integral for Boston, as they would hate to find themselves in a hole by the time Marchand and McAvoy make their return.
The Bruins made quite a few solid moves in the offseason in order to make that tall task just a little bit easier. First and foremost, they were able to get their Captain, Patrice Bergeron, to agree to a one-year deal. It was widely speculated over the last year or so that Bergeron would be retiring after last season, but he decided to run it back with the team he’s spent his entire Hall of Fame career with.
The Bruins brought David Krejci back after he played last season in the Czech Republic. They also signed 25-year old Pavel Zacha, who posted 36 points on 15 goals and 21 assists last year with the New Jersey Devils. Zacha will receive plenty of playing time in Marchand’s absence, and this is a huge chance for the young forward to prove what he can do on the Bruins’ top-6.
Boston also extended defenseman, Hampus Lindholm, who they received at last year’s trade deadline from the Anaheim Ducks. The Bruins are hoping that Lindholm can step into McAvoy’s role and hold things down until McAvoy makes his return.
Much like Pavel Zacha, there are other young players who are hoping to prove themselves to management early in the season while key pieces recover from injury. Bruins prospect Fabian Lysell could be given a shot to make his case in the NHL this year.
Much to Bruins’ fans chagrin, it was reported that Boston would be entertaining trade offers for their star forward, David Pastrnak. Pastrnak is set to his unrestricted free-agency at the end of the season, and is going to receive a huge payday from whoever lands the Czech star. Depending on where the Bruins are at the 2023 trade deadline, they could either decide to count their loses and ship him off, or keep him and make another run at the Stanley Cup.
Boston will be going with a goalie platoon of Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark. Swayman put up solid numbers in 2021-22, with a 23-14-3 record, 2.14 GAA, and .914 SV%.
Ullmark put up very similar numbers, a 26-10-2 record, 2.45 GAA, and .917 SV%.
Both goalies made 41 starts last season, so Bruins goaltending shouldn’t be too much of a concern this year.
Boston finished fourth in the Atlantic Division last season, with 107 points on a 51-26-5 record. They were eliminated in 7 games in the first round of the playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes.