The beѕt iѕ yet to сome for Boѕton Bruinѕ

 The best is yet to come for Boston Bruins

While Bruins management voiced that they were “bitterly disappointed” from being eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Florida Panthers last weekend and not being able to at least push things to a Game 7, it didn’t feel like that kind of vibe with B’s ownership, management and their head coach at Wednesday’s end-of-season press conference at TD Garden.

Instead, it felt like all parties involved were downright positive about the direction of the franchise and mostly satisfied with the way things went into a transitional season also marked by a hugely successful season-long Centennial celebration.

Sure, there will obviously be some impactful additions with over $20 million in salary cap space this summer and Don Sweeney confirmed the B’s will be “aggressive” in the July 1 free agency market. And the B’s general manager talked about “secondary scoring” as an area where the Bruins could stand significant improvement after averaging just a meager 2.38 goals per game in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

With forwards like Sam ReinhartSteve StamkosJake Guentzel and Jonathan Marchessault headlining the 2024 NHL free agent class, there are certainly some impact players out there that could help Boston’s sputtering offense.

“It reared its head at the most inopportune time where we weren’t able to finish off quality chances, and in some cases, it was with guys who do usually finish chances of that nature,” admitted Sweeney, referencing to the offensive slowdown, particularly against the Panthers. “What I’ve tried to communicate with the staff is that I thought we would be able to score enough goals during the regular season. I didn’t think we would be dominant offensively based on the players that had exited the franchise, but we set thresholds that we needed to meet during the regular season. I thought with guys coming in and providing secondary offense we did a really good job during the regular season.

“In the playoffs, did our offense and our power play in the Florida series go too dormant at important times and moments? Yeah, and we need to address and fix that. Whether it’s player personnel or systematically, the margins are small. As teams move through the playoffs, things tighten up and you have to find a way.  We didn’t get inside quite enough in rebound situations where we might have been able to take advantage of, so there are some things that we need to address in terms of free agency and internal growth.”

So there will obviously be changes to the NHL roster for the Black and Gold this offseason, as there should be after five straight seasons where they couldn’t get past the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs despite all manner of regular season success.

But beyond that, it sounds like the Bruins are going to run it back with the same management group and the same coaching staff intact going into a third season under Jim Montgomery. Certainly, there was progress with the Bruins edging past the first round of the playoffs with the thrilling OT victory in Game 7 over the Maple Leafs, and there is little arguing with the regular season success (112-32-30 for a .774 pts percentage) has been under “Monty.” Add to that the transitional season the B’s were very clearly in this year while segueing from the retiring old guard (Krejci, Bergeron) to the new, younger core group led by Brad MarchandDavid PastrnakCharlie McAvoy and Jeremy Swayman, and there simply wasn’t much fire, brimstone or anger from the B’s decision makers about losing to a better, deeper and tougher Florida Panthers team that may end up winning the whole thing.

Boston Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs opened up the entire proceedings by pronouncing he didn’t anticipate any changes to the organizational personnel, so clearly there is some level of satisfaction with the way things are trending for this team.

“I’d like to get ahead of a few questions that I’m usually asked at our season-ending press conference,” said Jacobs at the TD Garden Legends room where the press conference was hosted. “I want to mention that the three gentlemen to my left [Cam Neely, Don Sweeney and Jim Montgomery] have my complete confidence and we have no expectation of personnel changes during this upcoming offseason.”

Still, it’s believed that Montgomery signed a three-year deal when he was hired to coach the Boston Bruins and he’s entering the third year of that contract without any signs an extension is forthcoming ahead of next season. Consequently, there will be some pressure on this group to make another advancement next season after potentially significant free agency adds along with another year of experience for youngsters like Matt PoitrasMason LohreiJohnny BeecherJustin Brazeau, Jakub Lauko and Parker Wotherspoon.

Clearly there was an optimism among Bruins management that there will be brighter days immediately ahead, but there was also an elevated interest in getting faster and more attack-oriented with the way they play. The NHL is a copycat league and the B’s have had good, long looks at the way Florida attacks teams with relentless speed and physicality that creates tons of anxiety in the opponent’s defensive zone.

That kind of speedy, dogged attack is something the Bruins are interested in turning into a weapon rather than being weaponized against them, and that may ultimately be where they go with some of the $20 million in salary cap space, they’re looking at this summer.

“Our team played hard, [but the question of] whether or not we can play faster, whether or not we can find players that will create more anxiety on the forecheck in some of the situations. You certainly look at the teams that are still playing and they do a really good job of that,” said Don Sweeney. “In pockets of time we did, otherwise wouldn’t have still been playing. The teams that are still playing are damn good.

“They earned the right to be there [in the conference final] and we didn’t. It’s hard to get in [to the playoffs] and it’s hard to continue to win, but I’ve got to find the players that we’re confident are going to push us forward.”

One thing that could be problematic in terms of adding to the speed and scoring departments is if Jake DeBrusk bolts as a free agent. He’s been a primary provider of speed and offense to the Bruins over the last seven years and will add to Boston’s deficit in both categories if he signs for greener hockey pastures elsewhere.

Sweeney didn’t sound overly optimistic given the lack of progress in contract talks, but made it clear the Bruins would like DeBrusk back.

“Negotiation is a two-way street. We’ve took an aggressive position with Jake [DeBrusk]. No different than other players that have chosen not to resign and explore, that’s within his right, certainly at this time of the year,” said Sweeney. “Do I see a path? Yeah, there’s a path, I told him that at our exit meetings.

“You know, he’s been a big part of our group, he elevated in the playoffs. And I would prefer to have DeBrusk as part of our team, but he has some opportunity in front of him that he may pursue otherwise.”

With a slew of unrestricted free agents that likely won’t be returning (James van RiemsdykKevin ShattenkirkMatt Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort) and an abundance of cap space, the B’s will be able to significantly reshape their team around a core group that’s been able to push Boston to a certain level of success. It will be up to the current group of decisions makers and evaluators to push the right buttons that will get this group to the next level while standing pat with their front office management and coaching staff.

That makes this summer offseason a pivotal one for a Boston Bruins group poised to either build into a true contender over the next handful of years, or continue their current, somewhat unsatisfying pattern of strong regular seasons paired with postseasons that are a bit lacking.

It started with Wednesday’s eventless end-of-season media availability at TD Garden that’s expected to precede some anticipated hockey transaction fireworks in Boston a few days ahead of the actual Fourth of July stuff at the Hatch Shell.

Related Posts

The Changing Dynamics of the Toronto Maple Leafs Forwards

The Toronto Maple Leafs have evolved significantly since winning the Draft Lottery in 2016 and selecting Auston Matthews as the first overall pick. Starting the 2016-17 season, the team built its…

2024 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 53

Paul Goldschmidt has been destroying the hopes and dreams of opposing teams since 2012 when he played his first full season in the big leagues. He has…

Colts eager to see new offense come together – ESPN

INDIANAPOLIS — On a first-and-10 from the Colts’ own 25-yard line, quarterback Anthony Richardson took a shotgun snap and quickly tossed the ball to running back Jonathan Taylor on a…

2 moves Sabres must make in 2024 NHL offseason

The Buffalo Sabres had high expectations heading into the 2023-24 NHL season. Buffalo missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs by just one point in 2023. They had a wealth of…

NFL analyst suggests final offseason move Indianapolis Colts should make

As the Indianapolis Colts continue into the heart of the offseason workout program, there are still chances to add more talent to the roster. Sitting with a comfortable amount of…

This Day In Sabres History – Flyers Win Cup In Buffalo

On this day 49 years ago, the Philadelphia Flyers won their second straight Stanley Cup, eliminating the Buffalo Sabres in six games with a 2-0 shutout victory at Memorial…