The verdict isn't quite in, but the reality is that the 2021-22 regular season for the Boston Bruins is going to be a series of ups and downs, peaks and valleys.
Make no mistake: this is a good hockey team. Some might even argue that it is a very good hockey team. But is it a great team? Is it a serious contender for an NHL championship come June? The realistic answer to that question is no.
Sure, the top of the roster at every position is strong and gives the B’s a chance to win each and every night. With the exception of goaltending, which has a potential trump card in the form of Tuukka Rask making a return to the NHL at some point in the not-too-distant future, the team has multiple players who are near the top of the league statistically. The biggest issue the Bruins have is with the depth up front and on the blue line.
The fanbase had to hold its collective breath Wednesday night in Buffalo when Charlie McAvoy was hit from behind by forward Zemgus Girgensons with about 6 minutes remaining in the third period and left the game with an apparent head injury. He was the none the worse for wear, requiring some stitches, but didn’t miss any games. McAvoy is the one player the Bruins cannot afford to lose. The linchpin of a middle tier defensive group, the play from the backend flows through No. 73, and it would be a catastrophe if anything happened to him. He dodged a bullet with the Girgensons hit, and Taylor Hall even scored a nice power play goal to cap off a decisive 5-1 win on the road.
However, a few days later, we caught a glimpse of what is likely to unfold as the season rolls on.