Defensemen that must be successful: Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm
While the Bruins’ overwhelming strength last season was their ability to score goals in any situation, along with a deadly goaltending tandem, their defensive pairings were also a key to their success as well.
Boston head coach Jim Montgomery rarely, if ever, tinkered with the pairings, but when he did it paid dividends for the team almost immediately.
Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm could very easily be paired together, as one is a right-handed shot and the other a left-handed shot, but given how similar their play is, it is a good idea to break them apart onto two different lines in an effort to vary the attack.
Going into the 2022-23 season, many fans were unsure what to make of McAvoy after he had up and down years to start his career, but now, just seven years into his young career, the kid from Long Beach, New York, was even in the running to be the next captain of the Bruins.
While the numbers are not as impressive as Pastrnak or even Zacha, it is McAvoy’s hockey IQ and puck smarts that make him successful. He is very skilled on the power play, and consistently keep the puck in the offensive zone that makes him so good.
Last season, McAvoy put up some impressive numbers through 67 games with seven goals and 45 assists. The 45 assists were one short of McAvoy’s career-high total that he set just the season before. McAvoy was much more disciplined in 2022-23 with 12 less penalty minutes. If he can continue that trend, along with scoring more goals, racking up assists, and stay healthy, McAvoy should have a (necessarily so) successful season.
Going into the 2022-23 season, fans weren’t sure what to make of Lindholm. He was your run of the mill defenseman, who played good enough defense and averaged about 23 points per season. That all changed last season.
Lindholm played in a career-high 80 games, and set another career-high mark in assists with 43 way overshooting his previous high of 27 in the 2013-14 by plenty. He came four goals shy of setting a high in goals scored, but he still had plenty to contribute.
Lindholm was a fixture all over the puck, and also was very disciplined, despite using his 6-foot-4 frame to his advantage when needed either to block shots or hit opposing players. If Lindholm remains involved in the offense, stays healthy, and isn’t afraid to put the puck on net, he should have a successful season.