Transition-Stuck Boston Bruins Continue to Stumble


The Don Sweeney Era of the Boston Bruins is off to a rocky start.

After falling 6-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday afternoon, the Boston Bruins sit at 0-3-0 and at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. While there have been some bright spots and glimmers of hope in the first three games of the season, it is clear that was once Boston’s strength has become their biggest weakness: Defense.

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Don Sweeney wasted no time shaking things up when he found his name above the General Manager’s office door last May. Sweeney traded household names Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and following a season where Boston’s blue line looked shaky, Sweeney brought in two relatively unproven defensemen, former Los Angeles Kings prospect Colin Miller, and former San Jose Shark Matt Irwin. While these additions were low-risk, high-reward deals that can often make GM’s look like geniuses, they did not play out the way that Sweeney would have liked. Irwin is now a Providence Bruin and Miller has shown promise, but cannot be expected to play like the veterans he is replacing.

Sweeney’s plan was obvious from his first day in office, add speed and skill up front to match the changing landscape of the NHL. In doing so he, and the rest of the Bruins front-office staff, abandoned what had made the Bruins a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference; a strong, physical defense and an offense that tries to wear opponents down shift after shift. While the Bruins offensive and power play units have arguably improved, with seven goals in the team’s first three games, their defense has made former Vezina winner Tuukka Rask look like a journeyman goalie, allowing 16 goals in his first 3 games.

The absence of Dennis Seidenberg has undoubtably put Boston at a disadvantage, leaving young inexperienced defensemen with more ice time than they should be expected to handle.

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  • Sweeney, Cam Neely and the rest of Boston’s front office staff were quick to pull the trigger on the trades of pivotal players Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, but continue to drag their heels acquiring a cornerstone blue liner that could take up a bulk of the workload that is currently being split by the greenhorns now guarding the Bruins’ blue line.

    Defensive depth was a major asset to the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Bruins team, that for the foreseeable future, will remain the measuring stick for Boston hockey. Former GM Peter Chairelli became all to willing to dish out players like Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk, and Shawn Thornton that changed the culture of the hockey team. This change in chemistry and leadership is what admittedly left the Bruins on the outside looking in at last year’s playoffs. The new face in the front office is continuing to ignore what made the Bruins great in the early 2010’s and sending D-men packing their bags for more young, skilled forwards.

    Its a different day, but same old story at the TD Garden. While flashy and young always sounds exciting, sometimes its the 1992 pickup truck that gets the job done and not the 2015 Mercedes-Benz, and the Bruins seem to think otherwise.With management ignoring the gaping hole that stands in front of  franchise goalie Tuukka Rask, don’t expect Boston to contend for the Cup, much less a playoff spot this season.