In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. I will first note some ongoing trends that are happening in the league. Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Thirty-First up are the Boston Bruins who are in their 95th season as a franchise. The Bruins have made the playoffs each of the last three seasons making it past the first round each of the last two years.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 2nd
- Goals for Rank: 11th
- Goals against Rank: 4th
- PP Rank: 3rd
- PK Rank: 16th
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 1st
- Eastern Conference Standings: 1st
- Atlantic Division Standings: 1st
- Coach: Bruce Cassidy (fourth season with the Bruins 117-52-22 regular season; 22-20 playoffs; career 164-99-9-28 regular season; 24-24 playoffs)
On offense, this team is deep. What they lack in rolling out the best line in the NHL they make up for with rolling four very solid lines. It would not surprise me if this team had seven forwards with over 40 points this year (Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk, Danton Heinen and I could see Charlie Coyle getting up there). This team had the 9th most shots for and the 11th most goals for last year. I see them as a top 10 offense this year and think them rolling these four lines will be good for lower guys like Danton Heinen, Charlie Coyle and Sean Kuraly as the opposing teams work to shut down the top six.
Defensively, the age discrepancy in this unit is amazing. You have Captain Zdeno who is 42 years young on the top line alongside 21 year old Charlie McAvoy. Torey Krug sits as the lone late 20’s defensemen because around him are 22 year old Brandon Carlo, and 25 year old Matt Grzelcyk. This young defensive unit will be among the eight best in the league in a few years.
In net, Tuukka Rask did nothing short of stand on his head during the playoffs last year. During the regular season he had 46 games played, 27 wins and a 2.48 GAA (11th in NHL) and a .912 SV% (25th in NHL). Tuukka is an amazing goalie and I would expect him to continue to do amazing things for Boston going forward. The matchup of this great defense and Tuukka together is a formidable wall to go against for opposing teams.
Behind the bench, Bruce has done quite well for himself. He has been a head coach for five seasons and he made the playoffs four of those five seasons. The only one he did not was in 2003-2004 with Washington where he was fired 28 games into the season after a 8-18-1 start. I think it’s safe to say he is among the better coaches in the NHL, what he has done with Boston has really vaulted them to a top tier team. They have an excellent squad but he doesn’t slip a step in getting what’s expected out of them.
- Noel Acciari
- Ryan Donato
Prospects and Picks
Urho Vaakanainen – A player who will have to develop a good nickname, Urho played in just 2 games with the Bruins last year and will start this year in the minors. Last year in the AHL with the Providence Bruins he had 14 points in 40 games. The previous year he had 11 points in 43 games with Liiga. The 20 year old Finnish defenseman is very talented and his 18th overall selection in the 2017 draft will be paying dividends on an already talented defensive unit last this year.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
Charlie Coyle – At 27 he is entering the prime of his career. He is just two years removed from his 18 goal, 56 point season with the Wild in 2016-2017 and I think we see similar numbers this year. He is currently on the third line along talented Danton Heinen and gritty David Backes. That is a very talented line with a some experience and skill. Add to this him potentially being on the power play units and he should see a health bump in power play points.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$81.3MM Spent; $180k in Cap room; 21 players signed.