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Haggerty: The Offense Is The Problem For The Boston Bruins

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Boston Bruins, we have a problem.

Clearly things could be worse as the Bruins are still in playoff position in the ultra-difficult East Division, but they are just one point ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers for the fourth and final playoff spot with both teams having played 23 games this season. The Bruins have games in hand with the Islanders, Capitals and Penguins all ahead of them in the standings, but we’re also talking about a Boston Bruins hockey club that’s gone 3-5-2 over their last 10 games.

We’re talking about a Boston Bruins team that is looking all-too familiar after dropping a 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night where the only offense was a power play goal from David Pastrnak.

“We’re having trouble scoring goals now, and I think that goes without saying. Some of that obviously falls on the forwards’ ability to get inside and make plays themselves,” said Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “But most good offensive teams if they have a ‘D’ that can initiate the breakout and initiate some transition where forwards can get rush chances, it just makes it easier for everybody.”

Bruce Cassidy thought the Bruins were the better team and they had a 50/50 chance to take away the two points in the shootout, but they also frustratingly couldn’t finish on a number of offensive chances.

It was a pretty familiar narrative to the way things have ultimately gone down for the Bruins in the playoffs in each of the last few postseasons. In essence it’s starting to feel like the Bruins are trying to win games 1-0 or 2-1, and that’s an awfully difficulty way to go through a hockey season where the playoff margins are going to be Tuukka Rask-thin.

“I thought we were the better team. We didn’t have much luck around the net,” said Cassidy. “I liked our team’s effort from start to finish. We had issues with the third period each of the last three times we were in here, so we were better. We didn’t generate a lot, but we didn’t give up a lot either, so we kept ourselves in the game.

“We had a few opportunities to win it in overtime but didn’t. As a coach you’re never displeased when your team goes out and plays a strong, structured hockey game, but we just didn’t finish enough plays. Or one more play [for a win].”

This season the Perfection Line has accounted for 32 of Boston’s 64 goals and they are getting little-to-zero offense out of David Krejci (zero goals in 19 games), Jake DeBrusk (one goal in 17 games), Anders Bjork (one goal in 22 games) and Jack Studnicka (one goal in 14 games) with two goals apiece from Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner. The third line of Trent Frederic, Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith has actually been their second-best line with a combined 12 goals this season, but that means the first line and the third line are powering 69 percent of Boston’s offense this year.

If not for Nick Ritchie’s eight goals and 15 points in 23 games, the second and fourth lines would be pretty disastrous thus far this year, and much of Ritchie’s offensive damage has come on the man advantage.

We’re talking about an offense that’s 21st in the NHL averaging 2.78 goals per game, which isn’t going to get it done as a team with Stanley Cup expectations. They have averaged 2.5 goals per game in their last 12 games since the back-to-back postponements with the Buffalo Sabres, and have scored more than two goals exactly four times in those dozen games.

That’s not going to cut it regardless of the injuries on the B’s back end, or the challenges of the schedule.

Certainly, the Bruins can point to a stellar Semyon Varlamov stick save on Krejci as a team just not getting the puck luck, and they can also point to a number of posts including Brad Marchand ringing the crossbar in overtime after stealing a puck at the offensive blue line. But this goes beyond luck and goes into a Bruins offense that’s in the bottom third of the NHL this season, and even went six games without a power play goal before finally getting one from Pastrnak against the Islanders.

This is a Boston Bruins team that needs outside help and could use it as soon as possible before they sink in the standings. In hindsight the Bruins absolutely could have used the seven goals that Mike Hoffman has scored for the St. Louis Blues, and they should have anticipated that Ondrej Kase was going to have a hard time staying on the ice.

In short, they need a winger that can score, and they probably need a top-4 defenseman as well given their overall inexperience and Kevan Miller’s knee issues. The good news is that useful players like Taylor Hall, Tanner Pearson and Jake Virtanen will be available at the trade deadline. The bad news is that the Bruins won’t be the only team looking to be buyers at the trade deadline, and this is going to be a tough season economically to add on too much salary.

The bottom line for the Boston Bruins is this: Everybody predicted the Bruins were going to need more offensive help prior to this season given the personnel and given the loss of Torey Krug from the back end, and that is coming to fruition. Rather than the Bruins being better offensively than they were last season, they have taken a half-step back this year both during 5-on-5 play and in the special team’s game.

 

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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Michael J Parahus

Agree 100% on this. The issue is, as presently constructed, are they Stanley Cup contenders? No. At this point the more relevant question is….Are they a playoff team? The answer (particularly with how we play the Devils) is possibly not. I said going into the season that I did not think the B’s would make the playoffs, and, that they did not do enough in the offseason to improve. (Look at what Toronto did!) Some of my preseason thoughts did not change. I said they needed to blow up and get a new fourth line. Kuraly is not the Kuraly… Read more »

JOHN

I like Cassidy alot but watched the game last night and didnt agree that they were the “better team”. I think its time to move on from Kejci and Debusk. Debrusk alone isnt going to get you anything. Trade and get new blood. Call up from P Bruins prehaps? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result

Gord Nicoletti

OMG Hall Pearson Virtanen do you remember what Hall did last playoffs with ARIZONA nothing see what he is doing this year nothing. Joe you probably don’t even read the comments but I can’t let this suggestion on your part go without feedback. Hoffmann 7 goals ???? That’s the one things I don’t enjoy versus Fluto at the Athletic no accountabilty on what you write if your not on Twitter Gord

Mike S

Come back for more! It always gets worse lol

Orrfan

Gee. I wonder if it has anything to do with letting Torey Krug go, without ever even offering him a contract? For years B’s fans complained about Krug. For years I countered that a HUGE percentage of the Bruins’ offence went through Krug and that we’d regret not having him in the lineup. Surprisingly, Jeremy Lauzon has made a number of great passes setting up scoring plays. But with him out, the Bruins offence has fizzled and dried up. And this team is starting to feel the pain of Krug’s loss. Sweeney really messed up. And if you expect him… Read more »

Orrfan

Oh yeah. And why has nobody, even Cassidy, pointed out that the Bruins’ effort was simply below par last night? How many times did the Isles steal the puck or were first to it? Either the Bruins are, man-to-man, a slower team than the Islanders, or they simply weren’t moving their feet. This team has no chance of winning if they don’t at least make as much effort as the opposition. That effort wasn’t even close to there last night. Cassidy has “emptied his gun” as far as trying to motivate this team by calling them out. No coach can… Read more »

Rick W Murry

I think if Hall got to Boston he would catch fire that is exactly what the bruins need right now an injection of talent he’s not doing anything with Buff neither was Eichel who also is one of the most talented forwards in the league Buff is lousy grab hall shake up this roster or the bruins will be out of the playoffs before the nd of the month!

[…] at Nassau Coliseum, and he didn’t shy away from the tough questions. Sweeney acknowledged the lamp-lighting issues as the Bruins have dropped to 21st in the NHL in offense (2.78 goals per game) and dropped out of the top-10 in power play efficiency and didn’t exactly […]

[…] at Nassau Coliseum, and he didn’t shy away from the tough questions. Sweeney acknowledged the lamp-lighting issues as the Bruins have dropped to 21st in the NHL in offense (2.78 goals per game) and dropped out of the top-10 in power play efficiency and didn’t exactly […]

[…] at Nassau Coliseum, and he didn’t shy away from the tough questions. Sweeney acknowledged the lamp-lighting issues as the Bruins have dropped to 21st in the NHL in offense (2.78 goals per game) and dropped out of the top-10 in power play efficiency and didn’t exactly […]

[…] at Nassau Coliseum, and he didn’t shy away from the tough questions. Sweeney acknowledged the lamp-lighting issues as the Bruins have dropped to 21st in the NHL in offense (2.78 goals per game) and dropped out of the top-10 in power play efficiency and didn’t exactly […]

[…] at Nassau Coliseum, and he didn’t shy away from the tough questions. Sweeney acknowledged the lamp-lighting issues as the Bruins have dropped to 21st in the NHL in offense (2.78 goals per game) and dropped out of the top-10 in power play efficiency and didn’t exactly […]

[…] at Nassau Coliseum, and he didn’t shy away from the tough questions. Sweeney acknowledged the lamp-lighting issues as the Bruins have dropped to 21st in the NHL in offense (2.78 goals per game) and dropped out of the top-10 in power play efficiency and didn’t exactly […]

[…] at Nassau Coliseum, and he didn’t shy away from the tough questions. Sweeney acknowledged the lamp-lighting issues as the Bruins have dropped to 21st in the NHL in offense (2.78 goals per game) and dropped out of the top-10 in power play efficiency and didn’t exactly […]

[…] Boston: The Bruins aren’t perfect either. The Boston Bruins offense is sinking.  […]

[…] Boston: The Bruins aren’t perfect either. The Boston Bruins offense is sinking.  […]

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