Don Sweeney: Bruins Won’t Sacrifice Defense To Increase Goal Scoring

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The Boston Bruins have played a defense-first system throughout Claude Julien’s eight-year tenure as head coach, but that hasn’t prevented the team from scoring enough goals to be a Stanley Cup contender in many of those seasons. In fact, Boston has ranked in the top 10 in goals scored four times since 2008-09.

However, goal scoring was among the reasons why the Bruins missed the Stanley Cup playoffs this past season for the first time under Julien. The B’s ranked 22nd in goals scored per game, their lowest mark since 2009-10.

New general manager Don Sweeney said Friday at the NHL Draft Combine that he doesn’t want the Bruins to lose their defensive structure as they seek ways to generate more scoring next season.

“We’re going to look at all three zones, and how we attack, and certainly address why some of the (players) didn’t score at the same level they did in previous years,” Sweeney said, via Jess Isner of Bruins.com. “So there’s not going to be one area that we’re just going to pick on. We’re going to look at all three zones, as well as the roster, to say, ‘This is how we need to play and put forth a real good game plan.’

“I love the structure and accountability that (the coaches) bring to our table defensively. We’re not going to abandon that as a hockey club. I think our forwards work extremely hard; I just want to be able to get into the flow of the offensive game a little quicker. And again, some of it is going to be personnel, and some is going to be system stuff that we have to address and utilize to the best of our ability.”

The NHL game is quickly trending toward a place where speed, skill and an effective transition game lead to the most success. The teams playing in the Stanley Cup Final right now — the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning — are two great examples.

The Bruins, with a few Xs and Os changes by the coaching staff, would be capable of having a top-15 offense again, even as soon as next season.

There’s enough offensive skill on this roster to consistently score goals, and the continued development of young, skilled forwards such as David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner will play a key role in returning to that form.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images

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