The Bruins are coming off a strong 2017-18 that saw them go 50-20-12. Their 112 points was good enough for fourth in the league but only second in the Atlantic Division, finishing one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning. They eliminated their divisional rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs, in game 7 of the first round before being bounced in round two by the Lightning.
Boston comes into 2018-19 with their core intact. Their roster is an ideal balance of proven veterans and up-and-coming guys who seem ready to take on a larger role. Finishing atop the Atlantic Division will be a tall task in 2018-19, but the Bruins are up to the challenge.
➕ Jaroslav Halak (Free Agency)
➕ John Moore (Free Agency)
➕ Chris Wagner (Free Agency)
➕ Joakim Nordstrom (Free Agency)
➕ Steven Kampfer (Trade)
The 2018-19 Bruins will live and die by their first line, arguably the most dominant in the league. The terrifying trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak were the best line in the NHL last season, according to Corsica Hockey Player Ratings. The three of them boasted a 58.86 CF% at 5v5 and produced 33 scoring chances per 60. The Bruins scored 28 goals at 5v5 with their top line on the ice and surrendered just 16. They are a nightmare to match up against and can force a team’s first line to play in their own end all night long. They will be one of the best lines in the NHL again this season and they are the heart of this Boston team.
The loss of free agent Riley Nash hurts Boston’s depth down the middle. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is expected to make the big club as the third-line centre this season, while Noel Acciari holds down his familiar spot on the fourth line. Forsbacka Karlsson is a former second-round pick of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and spent last season with the AHL’s Providence Bruins, putting up 15 goals and 17 assists in 58 games. Coming into 2018-19, the Bruins’ third line is nowhere near as dependable as it was last season (56.40 CF%, 55.56 GF%), but there’s nothing in his pedigree that suggests Forsbacka Karlsson can’t be an adequate third-line centre.
While Torey Krug has proven himself worthy of a large role on this blueline, he will be limited to the second pair so long as fellow left-handed defenseman Zdeno Chara is still around. Krug is coming off a career year that saw him post personal bests in goals (14), assists (45), and even strength points (34). He is one of the top offensive-defenseman in the league and should be heavily-featured on the Bruins’ top powerplay unit again this season.
Charlie McAvoy impressed as a rookie last season, registering seven goals and 25 assists in 63 games. The 20-year-old is set to start the 2018-19 season back on the top pair alongside Chara. The odd couple played over 850 minutes together at 5v5 last season, surrendering a miniscule 22 scoring chances per 60. They will be utilized as the Bruins’ shutdown pair again this season, regularly going up against the opposition’s top line.
Kevan Miller is an underrated defenseman that gives the Bruins a lot of depth on the blueline. He would feature in the top four of most teams and would be the one to move up the depth chart should any of Krug, Chara, or McAvoy miss time. John Moore and Brandon Carlo are nothing to write home about but are more than qualified to be the fifth and sixth defensemen. The strength of their blueline helps mitigate a lack of depth up front.
Tuukka Rask’s game may have lost a step in recent years, but he’s still able to handle a full workload and give the Bruins above-average goaltending. Considering Boston gave up the second-least shots on goal last season, above average is all they need from their goaltender. Rask would be a lock for 35 wins if he can stay healthy enough to make 60 starts in 2018-19.
The Bruins signed Jaroslav Halak to backup Rask, not challenge him for playing time. The 33-year-old vet posted a .908 SV% for the Islanders last season, his worst since the 2012-13 season. With a career .916 SV%, Halak is a competent backup who can handle a starter’s workload should Rask miss any time.
|Brad Marchand (38)||Brad Marchand (50)||Brad Marchand (88)||Patrice Bergeron (12)|
|David Pastrnak (34)||Torey Krug (43)||David Pastrnak (76)||David Pastrnak (11)|
|Patrice Bergeron (32)||David Pastrnak (42)||Patrice Bergeron (68)||Brad Marchand (8)|
- 8. Brad Marchand — LW2
- 15. David Pastrnak — RW4
- 39. Patrice Bergeron — C14
- 48. Tuukka Rask — G5
- 67. Torey Krug — D14
- 137. Charlie McAvoy — D33
- 188. David Krejci — C42
- 229. Jaroslav Halak — G38
- 255. Danton Heinen — LW41
- 275. Jake DeBrusk — LW45
- 285. Zdeno Chara — D75
Predicted Atlantic Standings
The Bruins are a lock for one of the top three divisional playoff spots and are every bit as capable of winning the Atlantic as Tampa Bay and Toronto. Their blueline is as strong as any in the league, but they don’t have the depth up front to match the Lightning or the Maple Leafs on paper. With their first line leading the way, the Bruins are a Stanley Cup contender, but they’ll need to win the division first. Playing one of Toronto or Tampa Bay in the first round makes for a long and challenging playoff run.