Can the Boston Bruins find that winning rhythm if and when the 2019-20 NHL season returns?
In a recent virtual town hall with Bruins season ticket holders, Bruins winger Brad Marchand expressed a desire to be playing hockey soon but wasn’t so sure of his team’s chances anymore. The Bruins were rolling when the NHL paused its season on March 12 due to the Coronavirus outbreak and Marchand believes that’s why even if some of the older and injured players had time to rest and heal, that winning rhythm will be gone.
“It’s not going to help any teams that were playing well at the time,” Marchand said. “Maybe a few days [of rest] might have been good, but when guys are taking a few months it’s going to hurt everyone.”
Since returning from their all-star break and bye week on January 31, the Bruins were 15-4-0 and had jumped into the lead for the President’s Trophy with a 44-14-12 record to crack the 100-points plateau for the third straight season. Tuukka Rask made 36 saves for his fifth shutout of the season and a 2-0 win in the Bruins’ final game before the pause.
Marchand sounded worried that even if the 2019-20 NHL season does return in of the multitude of scenarios being discussed, the Bruins still may get robbed of what looked to be another run to the Stanley Cup Final because of their age.
“You can’t skate, keep your conditioning up or keep up your skills. It’s going to hurt everybody. Everybody is going to be sloppy,” Marchand said. “I think the only teams that are going to come back and look good are the really young teams like Toronto or Tampa. The really high-end skilled teams are just going to have the legs and be able to get it back quick. Older teams are going to struggle.”
With an average age of 28.5, the Bruins are the fourth oldest team in the NHL. Marchand was right to cite the Maple Leafs as they’re the sixth youngest team with an average age of 26.1 but he’s wrong about the Lightning as they’re tied – with the Arizona Coyotes – as the 11th oldest team in the NHL.