Five Questions Facing Bruins As 2021-22 Season Approaches

This will be an interesting season for the Bruins


Oct 15, 2021

The Boston Bruins’ season is fast approaching, and they will look a bit different this year.

Without David Krejci and Tuukka Rask, the B’s hope to get more from Charlie Coyle while giving the net to Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman.

Before Boston hits the ice Saturday night against the Dallas Stars, here are five questions facing the Bruins.

Can Charlie Coyle center the second line?
Coyle has some big shoes to fill with the departure of Krejci, but he has the full confidence of head coach Bruce Cassidy that he’ll be able to get the job done. The trio of Coyle, Craig Smith and Taylor Hall only played in one preseason game together due to Coyle recovering from knee surgery. And while they looked good, it’s hard to gauge anything from just one game. A lot is expected from Coyle this season, and it will be interesting to see whether he can complement the second line as well as the Bruins brass thinks he can.

Will this be Jake DeBrusk’s year?
DeBrusk hasn’t yet reached his potential and is coming off a down year in 2020. But a move to the third line, and less pressure to score without Krejci creating those opportunities for his wingers, might do DeBrusk a world of good. He and Cassidy had a nice conversation about opening up communication going forward, and DeBrusk said he is leaving the past in the past to focus on what’s ahead of him. The Bruins need DeBrusk to have a bounce-back year if they want their third line to be a steady force.

How will the Bruins handle the goalie tandem?
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Bruins will not be led onto the ice by Rask. He underwent hip surgery this offseason and is an unrestricted free agent. The door is open (more on that in a minute) for Rask to return, but there are two capable goalies in Ullmark and Swayman who will handle the duties. Swayman has impressed during training camp and preseason, while Ullmark has struggled a bit. It’s fair to assume that being in a new system with new teammates and missing the end of last season with an injury contributed to the latter’s struggles, but the B’s dished out a good chunk of change to bring in Ullmark and probably don’t want to rely too much on Swayman to carry the load (yet, anyway.) It will be interesting to see how Ullmark adjusts and see how Swayman fares in his first full NHL season.

Speaking of Rask, how will the Bruins handle that?
There really isn’t an answer to this question, other than the Bruins will cross that bridge if and when they get to it. Higher-ups have said time and time again that the door remains open should Rask wish to return. Ultimately, Rask could decide to call it quits if his rehab doesn’t go as planned or if he simply decides playing hockey isn’t for him anymore. But it sounds like the decision is in his hands. He likely won’t be ready until January or February, anyhow, so this will be a question that won’t be answered for a few more months at the very least. Still, it’s a storyline worth watching because if Ullmark struggles or Swayman faces some hiccups and the B’s need reinforcement, or if Ullmark and Swayman are an incredible tandem dominating the league and there’s no real spot for Rask, then what will the Bruins do?

How long will we wait to see Jack Studnicka?
Studnicka, after having a strong camp and preseason, was sent down to Providence to begin the season. He likely was a victim of being waivers-exempt and Boston wanting to take advantage of that, but it surely won’t be long before we see him with the Bruins. Should Coyle not live up to expectations or the bottom six struggle, or if there is an injury, it probably won’t take long for Studnicka to get the call so long as he keeps up his strong play in the AHL.

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