Welcome to the midway point of the 2021-2022 NHL season. The NHL franchises from coast-to-coast are now refocusing, retooling, and rethinking what they need to do to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For the Boston Bruins, this season has proven to be a significant test with a relatively new-look lineup behind the loyal, veteran core. Our Boston Bruins midseason assessment shows some highlights (and low-lights) for the team and how they are poised to start the second half. To start, check out these midseason honorees who have rocked the black-and-gold sweaters this year:
Boston Bruins Midseason Assessment and Awards
Midseason MVP: Brad Marchand
Brad Marchand‘s having a season for the ages in Boston. He should easily score 30+ goals come to the end of the season and will flirt with 100-total points. The partnership between him and Patrice Bergeron looks stronger than ever, and he can score on the power play and at even strength. Marchand’s stellar performance has made him the lifeblood of this team at the halfway mark.
Midseason MVYG: Oskar Steen
This award is being partially based on potential. Oskar Steen has proven to be an effective player this year when given the opportunity. Steen has a shooting percentage of 10.5%, and when in the lineup works well with Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk. Nick Foligno‘s inconsistent time in the lineup has helped Steen so far, but it would be nice to see him get more minutes.
Most Influential Offseason Acquisition: Erik Haula
Erik Haula‘s career has been that of a journeyman so far, but he seems to have found stability in Boston. His versatility has seen him slot into various spots in the Bottom 9 with relative success. Haula will very likely outscore his numbers from last season, and while he is no David Krejci, he is giving Boston everything he has.
Most Improved Player: Taylor Hall
The Taylor Hall of last year pales in comparison to this year’s version. Hall looks right at home playing with David Pastrnak on the second line. He’s on pace to outscore his numbers from last season, and with Boston’s power-play holding steady at 6th in the league, he may blow past them.
Player Needing to Improve in the Second Half: Nick Foligno
Foligno’s struggles this year are somewhat understandable, but frustrating nonetheless. Having inconsistent time in the lineup due to injuries, Foligno has not been able to get into a groove and consistently contribute to the team. A healthier second half would benefit him, but fans seem keener on seeing Steen in the lineup as things currently stand.
Overall Boston Bruins Midseason Assessment: Strong Playoff Chance, Stanley Cup Contender*
Anything can happen in the NHL, but the odds are in Boston’s favour to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Through 40 games, the Bruins have amassed 52 points, and sit in 4th place in the Atlantic Division. The Detroit Red Wings, despite playing three more games than Boston, are nine points behind. Given how top-heavy the Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions are, it looks like Boston will have a spot in the postseason, barring major injuries to the squad.
Once the postseason rolls around, the Bruins will need to have resolved their major flaw: offensive production down the lineup. Currently, Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak are accounting for 43% of all Bruins goals. Nearly half of the team’s goals are coming from a quarter of their forwards on any given night. In the Playoffs, teams will have more time to gameplan around this and could exploit it.
While it is never smart to count out a veteran team in the postseason, the Bruins will need to make some offensive improvements to contend in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the team can get hot (and healthy) at the right time, they will be a feared opponent for other Stanley Cup hopefuls.
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