2020 Year In Review: Six Storylines That Defined Bruins’ 2019-20 Season

There was no shortage of news for the Bruins this season


December 29, 2020

It’s been one heck of a year, to say the least.

But as we get set to head into 2021, we want to take a look back at some things that might have been forgotten about. After all, a lot did happen.

The Boston Bruins were on a tear when the NHL paused its season in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were the only team with 100 points and looked poised to lock up the No. 1 seed in their conference.

Boston eventually ended up taking home the Presidents’ Trophy after the league decided to head right into the playoffs rather than finish out the season. Of course, the season did end the way the Bruins and their fans hoped it would.

Here are six storylines that helped define the Bruins 2019-20:

Bruins’ response to Tuukka Rask’s opt out
Rask left the Toronto bubble in August ahead of Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes. And he was shown nothing but support by his teammates and higher-ups.

Jaroslav Halak took over the full-time goaltending duties for the remainder of the playoffs, and gave his team a chance to win each night.

Boston did bounce the Canes from the Toronto bubble, but went on to lose to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

David Pastrnak’s historic season
Pastrnak had his best season to date. The top-line winger potted 48 goals, which was tied for first in the league alongside Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin. The duo split the Maurice “Rocket” Richard award, and Pastrnak became the first Bruin to win the award.

Some other history Pastrnak made included being just the second member of the Bruins in the last 50 years to lead the league in goals. Phil Esposito led Boston for six consecutive seasons from 1969-1975.

Twenty of his 48 goals came on the power play, making Pastrnak the youngest Bruin to amass at least 20 tallies in a single season since Cam Neely during the 1993-94 season.

The 24-year-old probably would have reached the 50-goal mark had the season not been cut short. That feat hasn’t been reached by a Bruin since the 1993-94 season when Neely did so.

Pastrnak made plenty of highlight-reel plays and was a consistent force for Boston during the 2019-20 season.

Jaroslav Halak, Tuukka Rask tandem
Name a better goalie duo than Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak.

Oh yeah, you can’t.

Rask finished the regular season 26-8-6 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .929 save percentage, while Halak went 18-6-6 with a 2.39 GAA and .919 save percentage.

Halak certainly helped provide some much-needed rest for Rask ahead of the 2018-19 playoffs — something Rask wasn’t used to in previous years. And he did much of the same this past season and was able to step up when Rask left Toronto.

David Backes trade for Ondrej Kase
As his healthy scratches mounted, Backes was traded to the Anaheim Ducks in February for Ondrej Kase.

Kase played alongside David Krejci briefly before the NHL paused operations. So, he didn’t get a whole lot of time to build chemistry heading into the playoffs.

Still, he had four assists in 11 playoff games, and provided a winger on Krejci’s right side for a brief time.

Charlie Coyle has strong season
Coyle emerged as a consistent player for Boston during the 2019-20 season, scoring 16 goals with 21 helpers.

The center was a good fit on the third line and provided some much-needed secondary scoring for the Bruins.

Season cut short for bubble
The Bruins were the team to beat when the coronavirus entered the United States and started running rampant.

They looked poised to earn the No. 1 seed and were the only team to have 100 points.

But COVID-19 threw a wrench in the season and the league was forced to cut it short. Boston, by default, was awarded the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

The return-to-play format had the B’s play in a round-robin tournament to determine conference seeding, and ended up with the No. 4 seed while the Philadelphia Flyers claimed the No. 1 spot.

Boston ultimately was eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but it’s certainly fair to wonder what could have been had the season played out as normal.

Thumbnail photo via John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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