Before we can move forward with any discussion, one thing has to be made clear: the Boston Bruins, as currently constituted, are a very good team. One of the best in the NHL.
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Losing in the second round vs the Montreal Canadiens is not a product of them being a team that has a multitude of flaws throughout their lineup. They simply did not play well enough to advance.
That being said, changes are needed this off-season to improve the team, as any team would need following a disappointing elimination from the postseason when they were expected to go to a Cup Final.
Trading David Krejci because of a bad postseason? Not gonna happen.
Trading Brad Marchand after his horrendous playoffs? It would take a serious haul to convince the Bruins to part ways.
The point being, major changes are not needed for the Black and Gold.
Speaking at his end of the year press conference, Bruins president Cam Neely said as much when asked to put into words how the season ended, and what changes need to be made to ensure that getting bounced in the second round as the Presidents' Trophy winners doesn't happen again. Neely believes certain "tweaks" are needed for the team moving forward:
I keep pointing to that we didn't play as well as we could have played, and maybe it has something to do with Montreal. But I think a lot of it has to do with us. I think when you have that balanced attack, you know, we saw that stretch in March, if one line wasn't going, the other two were. We rarely had just one line going, and you see how teams now they have one line, they don't really have the success that you have when you have multiple lines that can produce.
I think when we look at things, we did have a great regular season. We fell short in the second round, which disappoints everybody. So we want to reevaluate where we think we could improve upon, and look at that as opposed to major overhauls. I think when we have the regular season we had, especially the stretch from March in to April, that wasn't luck. We were a good team and we still feel we have a good team, and maybe need a few tweaks.
So where do the tweaks come from? The early answer seems to be a revamped fourth line, as Shawn Thornton is an unrestricted free agent, and the early consensus is that the Bruins will be moving away from Thornton and looking in a different direction for the energy line.
CSNNE's Joe Haggerty believes there is a chance the line could be overhauled to see Daniel Paille, Justin Florek and Ryan Spooner form a new energy line using speed, skill, and youthful hunger as their calling card rather than the grinding and physicality we've seen for the last four years.
If that was the direction the Bruins wanted to go in, then Gregory Campbell would be relegated to the 13th forward position, taking over for Jordan Caron, who is not expected to return to the B's as an UFA. Chris Kelly would also be pushed out of a spot, but if the Bruins are not willing to cast both Campbell and Kelly aside, keeping either Florek or Spooner in the minors to keep a spot open for either veteran is still a possibility.
The Bruins have a few questions that need answering as they prepare for the off-season grind. It starts with player evaluation, and the Bruins need to figure out whether they need to keep things as is, or inject some new blood, life and energy into certain parts of their lineup.
With the early words from management, it seems the latter is the course of action for the team.
[quotes via CSNNE.com]