Boston Bruins’ Remaining 2021-22 Schedule Poses Depth Challenges

The Boston Bruins entered 2022 having two wins: a win over the Buffalo Sabres in overtime and a victory over the Detroit Red Wings. After going into their “COVID pause” with two ugly losses, it was nice to get back in the winning column. Their scoring depth was even more evident with their wins this weekend.

Related: Bruins’ Finally Getting Production From All Four Lines

It’s been said before and will be said again, but the Bruins have struggled to get points from players not named Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, or David Pastrnak. In their two most recent wins, however, they had goals by Craig Smith, Nick Foligno (Taylor Hall), Charlie Coyle and Bergeron. Oskarsteen, Mike Reilly and Marchand scored for them. Jake DeBrusk was not present. Matt Grzelcyk registered assists. There were 14 different players scoring points during the two games. You’d be hard-pressed to find back-to-back games this season or last when that many Bruins contributed to the scoresheet.

Boston Bruins Bench CelebratesAmy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers

It’s a good sign, given what lies ahead for the Bruins. The 2021-22 regular-season season will be over by April. 29. There are 115 days left between now (Jan.4) and then and Boston has 54 more games. They are planning to play every day from now through the end of the season. This is a huge task for any NHL team. It will be difficult for a team such as the Bruins who struggle with scoring depth this season and last.

Bruins Injuries Already a Factor for 2021-22

The Bruins’ roster has already suffered several injuries this season. Smith missed games at the start of the campaign with a “lingering injury,” which could explain his slow start, though he seems to be getting back to himself and playing more like the player we saw last season.

We don’t know much about the specifics of his injury, but he has sat out for Two stretches are available this season. Thankfully, they weren’t long stretches, but there is reason to be concerned about how he’ll fare with the packed schedule ahead since it has been described as a nagging issue. In the 2021 calendar year, he was one of the team’s top producers after the first line, and the team will need him for the second half.

Craig Smith Boston Bruins
Craig Smith, Boston BruinsAmy Irvin/ The Hockey Writers

The Bruins’ blue line did not have a ton of depth to begin with this season, particularly on the left side, and it took a blow in December when Jakub Zboril tore his ACL and will be out for the rest of the campaign. Injuries are always unfortunate, but what’s worse is that he was playing at his best when it happened.  

If the schedule is condensed for the rest of the season, any player who suffers an injury will miss more games than they typically would, and the Bruins’ defense doesn’t have many depth options. Although they have Jack Ahcan and John Moore, overall their options are very limited. They will. You need another defensemanThey might not be able or able to wait until the deadline to trade at one point.

Depth beyond Marchand or Bergeron?

If Marchand or Bergeron are affected by the tight schedule, then finding offense will be the greatest challenge. The Bruins’ average age is 28.1, around the NHL team average of 28.0. It is concerning that their top two contributors are 33 and 36. Playing that many games in a short time frame is hard on any body, let alone players in their mid-thirties – even if they are playing like they’re in their early 20s.

Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand and Patrice Beron, Boston BruinsJess Starr/The Hockey Writers

The team would be hurt if Marchand and Bergeron were to lose at any time or slow down. The Bruins depend on them so much that we were able to see their dependence in the two games prior to the COVID break. As they look at the daunting schedule for 2021-22, it is clear that the question has always been about what the Bruins will do with them.

Related: Watch Out for the 3 Bruins Storylines To Follow When Season Resumes

Marchand scored 30 points in 23 of his games. Bergeron scored 24 in 27. Pastrnak, who has 21 points in 28 of the team’s games, is third, followed by McAvoy, who has 20 points in 27 of the games. Hall and Coyle have 16 points each in 28 games. There’s a significant dropoff from there to DeBrusk with nine points in 27 games. More than anything, the Bruins’ ability to score goals will be tested. Where will the scoring come from if Marchand and Bergeron fall below their elite level? This weekend’s games showed a flash of what could be, but they need to do it more often for confidence to be restored.

Bruins Positives

It’s always good to end on a positive note. While the season is expected to be difficult, the Bruins have shown that they can work hard and manage any challenges. The Bruins had a slow start to the campaign due to so few games. They will be playing so many over the next three month. It was difficult for them to find their rhythm due to long pauses. Perhaps playing every other night might help. We’ll have to trust the coaching staff to give players rest days when they need them.

Similar: The Season Pause Will Bring Bruins Some Positives

This is the time for the Bruins’ depth to rise to the occasion. Last season and this season, players were given an opportunity to play a larger role, and they didn’t rise to the challenge. The depth of the roster will be tested in the coming months since the first line and McAvoy can’t carry the load alone. Coyle’s performance has improved over last season and the team could prosper heading into the playoffs if there are a few more forwards (Smith Hall, Haula, or Hall) who can step up and help.

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