The Boston Bruins soon will be opening their 2020-21 season, but the team is facing some questions ahead of Jan. 14.
We know some key players won’t be ready when the B’s travel to New Jersey to take on the Devils, while curious minds probably want to know how the blue line will look.
So we put together four burning questions the Bruins face going into their new season.
What will first line look like Opening Night?
David Pastrnak and possibly Brad Marchand won’t be ready for the beginning of the season as they recover from offseason surgeries. So, that would leave two spots open on the top line.
Head coach Bruce Cassidy never has been afraid to shake up the forwards, this much we know. So, who will get a shot to play on either side of Patrice Bergeron?
Anders Bjork has played with the 16-year veteran before, and his speed and skill set would be a good fit up top. Jack Studnicka could man Bergeron’s right side, giving the center two youngsters to help lead.
What will defense pairings look like?
Boston has blue line depth, but it also faces a slew of questions heading into the 2020-21 season.
Torey Krug now is a member of the St. Louis Blues, while Zdeno Chara signed with the Washington Capitals. Krug’s absence already leaves a void in the defensive pairings, and Chara’s size and leadership certainly will be missed. That leaves two holes for the Bruins to fill.
Kevan Miller is expected to be healthy after missing all of last season due to a twice-broken kneecap that has left him sidelined since April 2019. Miller is a big body that certainly will help the Bruins size-wise.
Charlie McAvoy also is poised to up his game this year. He’s been alongside Chara and learning from him, so if anyone can take a rookie defenseman under his wing, it’s McAvoy.
Matt Grzelcyk can move the puck well, and he may get a look at that first power play unit with Krug gone.
There’s also Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton, who likely will get looks in training camp with a chance to make the roster.
Lauzon has proven he’s not afraid to throw his weight around, and he’s another big body at 6-foot-1 that could help the Bruins.
Will the Bruins have secondary scoring?
The age-old question.
Secondary scoring has been an issue for Boston the last few seasons, with the top line of Pastrnak, Marchand and Bergeron doing much of the heavy lifting.
Bjork has had a slew of good looks and isn’t afraid to put pucks on net, but he’s had trouble finding twine. If he can start scoring, that certainly will provide a boost to the bottom-six.
Jake DeBrusk also could have a breakout year after a “down” 2020 season. He can grow his game and skill set, and the better he plays, the better David Krejci plays.
Will Ondrej Kase mesh with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk?
Kase didn’t have a lot of time to build chemistry with his new teammates after being traded by the Anaheim Ducks to Boston. The winger played in just six games before the NHL paused operations in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Krejci has not had consistency on his right the last few seasons, and Kase can provide that should he be able to live up to expectations.
The forward did appears in 11 playoff games for the Bruins in the Toronto bubble, racking up four assists.
It’s fair to believe Kase can return to the 20-goal scorer he was during the 2017-18 season if he can build the chemistry with his linemates. Plus, it also would be able to provide some stability for the second line.