With rookie camp slated to begin a week from today and veterans due to report in two, it’s a perfect time to speculate about the Stanley Cup Playoff picture. Yeah, I know- it’s August and hockey writers are itching to write about something. Paper rosters are often the strongest, right? Anyway, a writer for The Score has decided that 3 teams that made the playoffs last season will miss out this season. I’m going to let you guess about which one got the cover photo.
— theScore NHL (@theScoreNHL) August 30, 2017
Yep, that’s right, the Bruins won’t make the playoffs this season but neither will the San Jose Sharks or the Canadiens. (Hold on, we’ll all point and laugh at the Habs soon enough because it’s always a glorious day to hate the Habs).
Sure, Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak are two young studs who have the capability to be the faces of the franchise for years to come, and the club managed to claw its way into the 2017 postseason.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that Boston lacks offensive depth, touts an injury-prone 30-year-old No. 1 goalie, and has an unproven blue line.
Now, not for one minute am I buying their argument about Tuukka. Tuukka played most of the season through a groin injury for which he required surgery. All season long, he downplayed this injury and continued to play through it. Sure, there were days in which he couldn’t go. But to call him injury prone is short-sighted in scope and isn’t taking into account his body of work since he’s been a starter.
Is he perfect? No. But Tuukka is not a bad goalie by any stretch. He’ll bounce back this year.
Now, the offense- yep, it’s looking pretty shallow. Pasta still needs to sign. And there will be plenty of young guns clamoring for a starting slot which could mean good things, or bad. I think if anyone knows how to handle the younger players it’s Cassidy and his coaching group. He’ll be more willing to embrace change than Claude was.
The blue line held up more often than not last season and Charlie McAvoy will make a difference, even as he will undoubtedly experience growing pains. Brandon Carlo will get better because he knows he needs to. And Kevan “Do We Still Call Him KIller?” Miller built a good year even playing on his off side. Sure we lost Colin “The Player Formerly Known as Chiller” Miller (and Joe Morrow) but the Postma Always Rings Twice. (Sorry, that was terrible. And we want him to not ring anything.) Everyone worries about defense, and maybe we should, but I think the youth brigade will be exciting.
Especially when you consider some of the other talented Eastern Conference teams that will be vastly improved when the puck drops on the 2017-18 season. Toronto, Carolina, and Buffalo (yes, Buffalo) will all be stiff competition for Boston in search of the seventh or eighth playoff seed.
Will they all be? Toronto and Carolina will, for sure. But Buffalo? I think they’re still a few steps away. Not to mention that plenty of teams most likely got worse due to cap issues. These are all paper rosters and we’ll have to see what happens in games and real season situations.
Now, point and laugh at the Habs. They certainly got worse this season.
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, take in the forward lineup the Canadiens are prepared to play with this season:
LEFT WING CENTER RIGHT WING
Max Pacioretty Phillip Danault Jonathan Drouin
Alex Galchenyuk Tomas Plekanec Artturi Lehkonen
Paul Byron Andrew Shaw Brendan Gallagher
Charles Hudon Torey Mitchell Ales Hemsky
Regardless of how you spin it, Montreal will struggle to score goals, as not a single one of their centermen has surpassed 29 tallies in a single season. As for the rest of the group? Well, let’s just say Carey Price better have another Hart-caliber year in his back pocket.
Anyway, I believe the Bruins will make it back. I underestimated them last season and I won’t again this one.
Bonus for today: Wyshynski wrote nice things about Bergy.