At the end of the 2016 regular NHL season, the Boston Bruins are not competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They become the only NHL team in the current season that has a positive goal differential – something both Detroit and Philadelphia lack – not to participate in the post season. Somehow defensive excellence did not add up to a playoff spot. And since defense is counted as a strength in Boston, it is the lack of offense that must be blamed for no playoffs in Boston.
Ex-General Manager, Peter Chiarelli, now with Edmonton, did a great job while he was with Boston, building a team that won the Stanley Cup in 2011, the first since the days of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito back in the early 1970s. Under Chiarelli, the Bruins were a consistent contender to win the Eastern Conference every year, if not win the Stanley Cup itself. New GM, Don Sweeney has a tough legacy to live up to. But it is one of Chiarelli’s trades that many Bruin fans feel that haunts this team.
Thanks to Toronto’s stupidity during the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Fund regime, the Bruins acquired a top pick which they used to draft Tyler Seguin. Seguin was with the Bruins and played а not insignificant part when they won the Stanley Cup in 2011. But Chiarelli became disenchanted with Seguin’s subsequent development and dealt him to the Dallas Stars. This year, the Bruins are on the sidelines watching Seguin in the playoffs. That trade now hangs like a dark cloud over the Bruins, probably the greatest mistake of Chiarelli’s management.
The Bruins also let forward Milan Lucic go to the Los Angeles Kings. Lucic was like a sleeping giant with the Bruins, playing dopey hockey at times, but when he woke up, look out. When you deduct Seguin and Lucic from the Bruins’ roster, that is two big holes in the forward line.
But all is not dark for the Bruins. As long as defense is a strength of the team, it will not take long to get back in the playoffs. All one has to do is look at the Edmonton Oilers, ironically Chiarelli’s new team, with all its high draft talent that cannot play defense and remains at the bottom of the Western Conference to realize that Boston is not too far off to contend again. If they can acquire a few goal scorers either by draft or trade, to go along with the Bruins’ excellent defensive system, it will not be too hard to get back into the playoffs and contend for the Eastern Conference title, if not for the Stanley Cup itself, as early as next season. 2016 was a bitter disappointment for the Bruins, but if management makes the right moves and drafts during the off season, this year will be only a temporary fall. It will be a real challenge for new General Manager, Sweeney, and an opportunity to demonstrate his managing savvy and put his own stamp on this team.