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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, March 2, 2024

Keeping up with the 617: A pleasant surprise


A few weeks ago I wrote about how I believed the Bruins were actively ignoring the inevitable rebuild facing the franchise. They have since proved me wrong. Not only are these Bruins playing playoff-level hockey through six games, they lead the league in points. Sure, some of their wins have been against weaker competition, but the team seems to be skating in midseason form and has formed a strong chemistry through only two weeks. 

I don’t blame myself or others for thinking that this Bruins team was going to struggle this season. With Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy on the injury shelf through the rest of 2022, the lineup was a group of senior citizens and junior league players, for a lack of a better description. Yet, the team has gotten solid performances out of A.J. Greer and Nick Foligno, who have combined for nine points through six games. Additionally, the Czech line of Pavel Zacha, David Krejci and David Pastrnak was dominating opponents when together. Specifically, the offseason addition of Zacha seems to be paying off dividends as he’s notched four points so far. 

However, as expected with the losses of Matt Grzelcyk and Charlie McAvoy at the start of the season, the Bruins defensive core has been shaky. I mean, letting the Ottawa Senators hang up seven goals is not the most promising outlook. Much of those goals can be attributed to netminder Jeremy Swayman’s poor start, but some of these defenders are deers in headlights in front of the net. As hard as Jakub Zboril battles, he gets absolutely exposed on odd-man rushes. 

Speaking of odd-man rushes, Mike Reilly is playing a little too aggressive for the player that he is; Reilly lacks the speed and puck-handling skills to be an offensive force. Due to his aggressiveness, he’s created many rushes for opposing teams that lead to goals. I’m sure Head Coach Jim Montgomery is monitoring this situation as Reilly is currently gifting himself a few healthy scratches.

While the fast start for the Bruins is promising, it’s time to pump the brakes on any championship-contender talk. I’m sure this fan base is drinking the Kool-Aid that sports talk shows are feeding them, but there are too many juggernauts in the Eastern Conference. Given the fact that fast starts in hockey don’t necessarily translate to postseason success, this fanbase still needs to damper expectations for the upcoming season. A playoff spot is within reach for this franchise, but I’m still not buying into this team as a championship contender. However, time will always tell in this league, and notching a few more wins in October and November will have fans preparing for a parade next June.