So far the Bruins’ season has been full of questions with few solutions. The Big Bad Bruins for better or worse have been the team’s identity. Well at least it was until recently. This year’s Bruins team lacks a definitive identity. They are not skilled enough to play up-tempo, eye-popping hockey. But the Bruins are also not tough and gritty enough to grind out close games on a consistent game to game bases. So far this hockey team has won games in different ways, but as we have seen they’re very inconsistent.
Watching the games outside of Pastranak, Marchand, and maybe Krug or McCavoy, this team is not built to play fire wagon hockey. The recent success that the Bruins have come across has been a result of pure effort. Cassidy needs to keep the pedal to the medal in order to keep the arrow pointing up. Sunday night’s 4-2 loss to the Oilers showed exactly what happens when the Bruins try to play a more finesse style of hockey.
This loss to the Oilers is a painful one to swallow. The Bruins coughed up what should have been a guaranteed two points against a widely underwhelming Oilers team. Edmonton came into the TD Garden concluding a terrible five game road trip, and having lost four out of their last five games. While Boston was playing their best stretch of hockey this season, after winning an emotional matinee matchup against the Penguins. But the Bruins got away from their game and as a result ended up playing the Oilers game.
Now when the Bruins have been good this year it’s not because of the talent level. It’s because the Bruins have played with fire, and grit that has worn down less prepared teams. That type of wear-you-down hockey is what the Bruins need to continue to pursue if this season is the main priority. Too often the Bruins try to make the extra pass in the offensive zone, or on the breakout. As a result the bigger, faster, and more talented teams have been able to dictate the terms against Boston.
So how can the Bruins make this season interesting? By embracing the physical, gritty style of hockey that has been the key to the Bruins success as an organization. Rather than trying to wow the crowd through the neutral zone, start dumping the puck into the corners and make the other team work. Also, the Bruins have to suffocate the neutral zone much more than they are currently doing. Quicker teams have been able to gather great speed off the rush which has led to prime scoring chances.
While up tempo hockey is exciting, it has gotten the Bruins in trouble. Slow it down, finish checks, and make the other team outwork you. That’s the key to the Bruins having any substantial success this season.