2016 has been a year to forget for the Boston Bruins. It started with a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Canadiens on New Year’s Day, and then continued in April with the team missing the postseason for the second straight year. This season has been a roller coaster, there no doubt about it. The Bruins currently sit in third place in the Atlantic division with 40 points, behind Ottawa and Montreal respectively. Recently however, poor starts have sabotaged them from climbing up the conference ladder. Most recently, last night the B’s fell behind early in Columbus, leading to a 4-3 loss. Below are New Year’s resolutions for the Big Bad Bruins.
More Power!: The Bruins powerplay currently is operating at a 13.5 percent clip, tied for 29th in the league with Vancouver. It’s not like the effort hasn’t been there, the B’s consistently move the puck around the zone but they are lacking the finish. It’s just a case of the team needing confidence in the man advantage, there’s definitely a “here we go again” mentality that plagues them and it also has cost them as they have given up five shorthanded goals to this point. Guys like Torey Krug, Patrice Bergeron, and David Backes need to start converting their opportunities because right now just simply trying hard isn’t getting it done. More Frank Vatrano on the first powerplay unit would give them another threat along with David Pastrnak that would undoubtedly open the ice for other guys to have great scoring chances.
Better starts to games: Too often this season, the Bruins have fallen behind by wide margins early on in games. As evidenced by multiple games this season such as last night’s game or the game in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago. Both games the B’s fell behind 3-0 and the team was able to tie both games, but both were losses. The Bruins need to start coming ready to play, because they can’t bank on the fact that they’ll able to come back. This team has looked much more resilient this season but these bad starts need to stop. Most of this blame needs to be put on the coaching staff, namely Claude Julien for not having his guys ready to play from the start. If these types of games continue, where the Bruins fall behind early and predictably run out of gas, Julien should be fired before the conclusion of the season.
Bergeron returning to form: Number 37 has been extremely quiet this season which is very unlike him. Offensively he’s struggled with just five goals and five assists with three points coming on the powerplay. It seems like he’s battling some kind of injury as he hasn’t looked himself at points this season. Defensively he still is playing at a high level, but with this Bruins team, offense is where they’re lacking. More goals from Bergy is a must and it certainly shouldn’t be a problem playing with Marchand and Pastrnak. However, if his lack of offensive continues, don’t be surprised if the lines get shuffled.
Make a Trade: The B’s are in need of a shot in the arm, and with the great pool of prospects, a trade shouldn’t be out of the question. Trading for a defenseman certainly would help stabilize the D corps even more, but with John Michael-Liles nearing a return I wouldn’t expect them to a make a move for a top four defenseman. Looking at the B’s lack of offensive production, another top six forward would make a lot of sense, but unfortunately it would likely mean moving a current NHL player. Trading Ryan Spooner seems like it would yield a decent return if the Bruins threw in a prospect or two to try to improve their goal scoring. He’s never really fit into the Bruins plans and to make matters worse he’s not playing his natural position. But if the Bruins could find a taker, I would do it immediately because there still is time to salvage their season.