The Bruins will be without key players like Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy to start the 2022-23 season due to injuries, but a pair of NHL Network analysts are optimistic about Boston’s potential start to the year.
The B’s announced the signings of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Pavel Zacha on Monday as Jim Montgomery’s squad prepares for training camp in Sep. The trio will be needed as Boston deals with multiple injuries to start the season. NHL veteran and analyst Mike Johnson explained why the Bruins are in good shape despite the injuries.
“I know they have a new coach in Boston, but really, the strength of the Bruins has always been the system and the structure led by Bergeron and Krejci — when he was there,” Johnson said Monday, per NHL Network Twitter video. “And so, yes, they are going to miss some massive players, but you add one of, if not, the best defensive forwards of all time (Bergeron) to your lineup, that will help supplement some of the defensive structure that you’re looking for.
“While I do think Detroit (Red Wings) and Ottawa (Senators) will be better — Buffalo (Sabres) has been taking strides — I think Boston, with these guys back, should be good enough for the first few months. And think about what happens in the new year — when everyone gets back healthy and all of a sudden, Marchand, McAvoy and (Matt) Grzelcyk, they’re all kind of rested and ready to go down the stretch, I still think Boston is absolutely a playoff team.
“And if they get to the playoffs, I’m not sure you want to face them, given their track record, given the talent they have, given the way they can play. Yes, it’s going to be a challenge, but the challenge just got a little bit more manageable with the additions of these veterans — Zacha, as well. I still think Boston’s going to be a playoff team, even with all the injuries to start the year.”
During a Monday press conference, Bergeron said he saw the uncertainty to start the year as an opportunity for the Black and Gold. The signings of Bergeron and Krejci boosted the Bruins’ Stanley Cup odds, showing bookmakers agree with Johnson’s take on Boston being a potentially dangerous team once it makes the playoffs.
Fellow NHL veteran and analyst Bill Lindsay agreed with Johnson and noted where Boston’s strength lies in its roster.
“Jim Montgomery there, a new coach, a new voice in the room could maybe be a spark,” Lindsay said. “But the consistency they’ve been with — you talk about Bergeron, it’s consistency every single year. Same thing with Boston — the system, the structure. They’ve always been on the best defensive teams, and the goaltending situation is really good.
“Linus Ullmark came in, signed a big deal, struggled to start the year, was really good the second half of the season. Jeremy Swayman, they split the duties 50-50, but Jeremy Swayman has a huge upside going forward. I like what they have in net, and that’s what you have to solidify is goaltending and down the middle and all of sudden, that seems to be falling in place for Boston.”
Bergeron returns for his 19th season, and the Bruins captain and head coach Montgomery will hope to lead Boston back to the postseason.