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Friday, 12 May 2017 02:39

Boston Bruins: Season In Review Discussion

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Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara shake hands with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson after Game 6 playoff loss. Charlie McAvoy and Zdeno Chara shake hands with Ottawa's Erik Karlsson after Game 6 playoff loss.

The CLNS Boston Bruins Beat Team takes a look back at the 2016-17 season and names the B's MVP, biggest surprise, biggest disappointment, and answers other pertinent questions!

        1.  Would you consider this Boston Bruins season a success of a failure?

Lauren Campbell (@lalalalaurrrren):   A success because of two main reasons: they fired Claude Julien and made the playoffs. The black and gold went 18-8-1 under Cassidy and showed signs of new life after Julien had left town. They looked re-energized, faster and more focused. Of course it wasn’t the permanent fix, but it was a good start. The team also made the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. And even though they were eliminated in the first round by the Ottawa Senators, making it to the playoffs with the team they had should be considered something big. Note: You have to remember there was a point in the beginning of the season where they were without goalies Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin and had to rely on two AHL goalies – both who are not NHL ready.

Michael Settipani (@MikeSetta22):  I would consider this Boston Bruins season a success. I know that making the playoffs in Boston isn't the ultimate goal, but after not making the playoffs the last two season it was a step in the right direction. They have some promising young players to build around going forward and I just wanted them to bring playoff hockey back to Boston.

Adam Belue (@albinomamba44):  I would consider this season a success for the Boston Bruins.  We all knew coming into the season that this was not a Cup contending team, but by making the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, the year was clearly a step in the right direction to regain that status as title threat.

2.  Who was the Bruins’ MVP this season?

Lauren:  David Pastrnak. Pastrnak really came into his own this season and was even tied with Sidney Crosby for the league lead in goals until he came back down to earth. He did finish the season with 34 goals and dished out 36 assists. Plus, he should get the MVP title alone just for the fact he said he wants to stay in Boston long-term. The front office can’t let this young talent get away.

Mike:  The Bruins MVP was by far Brad Marchand. Marchand lead the team in goals and points. He was also the emotional leader and the Bruins went as Marchand went. Without him, the Bruins wouldn't have sniffed the playoffs.

Adam:  I really want to say Brad Marchand but I can’t, because he still hasn’t fully grown up.  Marchand still takes ridiculous penalties and takes himself out of games when the team needs him the most.  And as great of a season as David Pastrnak had, I always pick someone different for MVP.  So I’m going with Bruce Cassidy.  Without the coaching change, there is no way this Bruins’ team would have sniffed the postseason, and his attitude and cantor was so refreshing after ten years of “ho-hum” Claude Julien behind the bench.  And yes I understand that MVP stands for Most Valuable Player but whatever.

3.  Who were the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment on the Bruins this season?

Lauren:  Biggest surprise – Charlie McAvoy mainly on the fact the team even signed him to a three-year deal. I understand the move, but the 18-year-old was under a tremendous amount of pressure. “Hey kid, we have no defense. Save us,” is what I picture the mentality was behind this signing. However, the young stud looked confident on the ice in the playoffs, which can only be a sign of good things to come for his future. He’s another young talent the front office shouldn’t give up on. Biggest disappointment – Jimmy Hayes. This guy could not have been more frustrating on the ice if he tried. Coming from Harvard and having a brother who’s a very good player, we automatically had high expectations for him. And now those expectations are completely gone. If were giving grades for each player, he’d get an F. Hayes had two goals in 59 games and was scratched 22 times. Fun fact – he’s signed for three more years.

Mike:  My biggest surprise is Brandon Carlo. He came in a rookie defenseman and really impressed. He was playing 20+ minutes and paired with Chara. He wasn't projected to make the team and now looks like a building block on the back end going forward. Biggest disappointment is by Ryan Spooner. I was hoping he would take a jump forward with David Pastrnak and look like the future forwards of this team. By playoff time, he was getting benched and he continues to suck taking faceoffs and in the defensive zone. Spooner won't even be on the team next year after being looked at as future top 2 center for this team.

Adam:  Biggest disappointment is an easy one – that’s Ryan Spooner.  Damn he sucked this season, and I’m really hoping I don’t have to see him in a Bruins’ jersey ever again.  For biggest surprise, I’d have to go with just how good Charlie McAvoy was in the postseason.  The kid went from college hockey to the pro level in just a couple weeks, and was by far the most impressive player on the ice during the entire series.  He even had Erik Karlsson giving him accolades in the handshake line, which is a pretty astonishing honor for a kid that had never played in the NHL before Game 1.

4.  Other than David Pastrnak, who among the Bruins’ free agents (Restricted FA – Ryan Spooner, Austin Czarnik, Joe Morrow, Noel Acciari, Tim Schaller, Zane McIntyre, Malcom Subban; Unrestricted FA – Drew Stafford, John-Michael Liles, Dominic Moore) would you like to see the team keep in the offseason?

Lauren:  The team needs to keep Noel Acciari. I would say Drew Stafford, but I believe a return to the black and gold is unlikely. He only played 29 games with the B’s and only had two goals, but he had 80 hits and has an incredibly bright future ahead of him. The Bruins need his intensity on the ice.

Mike:  I would say the Bruins should keep Austin Czarnik. Czarnik played a few games with the big club this year and I was impressed. He's a young skilled forward that I believe can play a bottom six role well. Speed is becoming a huge factor in today's NHL and Czarnik could help fill third line center role.

Adam:  Obviously extending Pastrnak is the top priority this offseason, but I’d like to see them try to make a run at re-signing both Stafford and Moore early.  Stafford was a great addition to the team at the deadline, and his veteran presence and versatility made him a key part of the B’s playoff run.  Moore was solid on the fourth line all season long, and his penalty killing made him even more valuable to the squad.  Moore’s fourth line teammates, Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari, should also be a priority.  Schaller was another important penalty killer, and earned valuable minutes on the ice with his consistent two-way play.  Acciari plays a physical style that the Big Bad Bruins should still embrace, and he flashed some offense during the postseason as well.  I’d also like them to try and keep McIntyre around, because he has shown more in his limited time in the NHL than Subban and completely dominated in Providence last season.

5.  Should the Bruins look to trade Tuukka Rask?

Lauren:  This is a topic every year. The simple, easy and correct answer is no. He went 37-20-5 on the season posting a 2.23 GAA. I’m sticking by my thought that he has been hurt all year with some sort of lingering groin injury but even if that is true, he made some incredible saves, kept the team in a lot of games and carried the team on his back when the defense was lacking, which was often. His save percentage was .915 with eight shutouts and was outstanding in all six playoff games with a 2.24 GAA and .920 save percentage. Go ahead, tell me he’s not an elite goalie.

Mike:  I don't think the Bruins should trade Tuukka Rask unless they get blown away with an offer. We saw what happened when he got hurt and didn't play. It took half the season for a backup goalie to get a win. Rask can be frustrating, but I believe he's a top 10 goalie in this league.

Adam:  If the price/return is right, then they should absolutely look to move Tuukka and his bad contract.  Some people will say that without his terrific play early in the season, this Bruins’ team would have not made the postseason.  But he had his share of awful performances as well, and he’s revealed himself as a guy who is slightly better than mediocre who is being paid like a guy who can dominate between the pipes.  I know that they really don’t have much behind him, but if they could find a younger goalie in free agency or via another trade (someone like Martin Jones who they had for a split second last offseason), then they should definitely try to move on from Tuukka Time.

6.  Should the Bruins extend Zdeno Chara or let his contract run out after next season and move on with a younger defensive unit?

Lauren:  The Bruins need to let the contract of Zdeno Chara run out after next season. He’s getting older and slower and although he is a great captain, he’s not the defenseman he once was. If anything, they should let him play out the rest of his contract and see where he stands after next season. The 40-year-old had  three fights in the 2016-17 season and carried an insane amount of ice time. He had nine goals and 20 assists to finish out the regular season.

Mike:  The Bruins should not extend Chara and just let his contract expire. I love what big Z stands for and all he's done for this organization, but he's going to be 41 at the end of his contract. It's time for Bruins to move on and get younger.

Adam:  This is a really tough question because Chara has been one of my favorite players ever since he came to Boston, and I thought he had a bounce-back year as the top defenseman last season.  He’s clearly a physical freak and keeps himself in tremendous shape, and he is a great mentor for the younger defensemen and forwards on this team.  I think that the team needs to wait until next season ends to have a better understanding of what their defensive unit will look like and make a decision on Chara’s future then.  I’ll be fine either way – if they let him walk then he brought up a Cup, got us to another Final, and put Boston back on the map; and if they keep him around they think he can still bring a lot to the table both on the ice and in the locker room.

7.  Give your thoughts on the following players: Brad Marchand, David Backes, David Krejci, Charlie McAvoy, and Brandon Carlo.

Lauren:  Brad Marchand had his best and most consistent season this year. He had 85 points in 80 games with 39 goals. His style of play may get him in trouble at times, but he plays with intensity and finds the back of the net often.

David Backes completed his first year of his five-year deal and I won’t complain about it. He registered 225 hits and had three fights while scoring 17 goals and collecting 21 assists.

David Krejci, despite his off-season hip surgery last year, turned his season around later down the line. It clearly slowed him down at first and he was, at times, frustrating to watch. But over the final 52 games of the season, he had 19 goals.

Charlie McAvoy is going to be a stud. That’s all there is to say about him.

Brandon Carlo’s absence in the playoffs was clearly a weakness for the team. He’s only 20 and like Acciari, has a bright future ahead of him. He looked like a veteran most of the time on the ice and posted six goals with a plus-10 rating through 80 games. He’s a young defenseman and the Bruins need to keep him around.

Mike: Brad Marchand has become an elite player in this league, but needs to be smarter. His suspensions continue to hurt the team and he needs to become more of a leader.

David Backes was a disappointment and will never live up to his contract. He brings intangibles and leadership, but it'll always be contract thing.

David Krejci has become injury prone, but I still believe he is the most important bruin heading into next year. He brings too much to the table to let go and is perfect second line center when surrounded by wingers.

Charlie McAvoy is a stud. He only played a handful of games, but my god was he impressive. I think he's the real deal and will be a stud for years to come.

Brandon Carlo was impressive in his first year, but he needs more of a mean streak. He's a big boy and I think Bruins would benefit more if he plays with more of edge.

Adam:  As I said under the MVP question, I think Brad Marchand still needs to grow up on the ice and stop taking ridiculous penalties in bad situations.  He clearly has a reputation in this league so anytime he does something questionable he’s getting called for it, and he needs to figure out the line that he can cross to continue being the rat and the annoying player for opponents to face without constantly spending important minutes in the penalty box.  He’s a great scorer, but you can’t score while sitting in the box or while being suspended for some silly stick work or just for being a total idiot.

I love David Backes’ game and I was a huge fan of the signing last offseason.  I thought he was up and down in his first year with Boston, but he’s a huge locker room guy and a consummate professional, plus he seemed to love Cassidy and pushed for the interim tag to be removed.  I think he’ll be fine next season as long as he can stay healthy.

I’m also a huge fan of David Krejci, but I really think the B’s need to move on from him because he has underachieved for a couple seasons and has a ton of injury concerns.  He also disappears for stretches of games, which can’t happen with a second-line center that is being paid like a superstar.

Charlie McAvoy is a stud and a freak of nature.  That’s it. (I swear I didn’t copy Lauren’s answer!)

I really liked Brandon Carlo this season, and it was disappointing to see him get hurt and not play in the postseason.  I think playing an entire season alongside Chara was extremely beneficial, and another season with the captain as a teammate and mentor will do nothing but good for Carlo’s development.

Adam Belue

My name is Adam Belue, I'm from Fall River, MA, and I'm a sports fanatic.  I'll watch and write about just about any and every sport, even the fringe ones that aren't really sports like bowling, poker, and ultimate frisbee.  I'm a huge Green Bay Packers fan, and a self-proclaimed New England Patriots hater (and proud of it!)... which makes my job in a sporting goods store quite interesting.  I'm a big fan of the other local teams (Bruins, Red Sox, and Celtics), along with the Alabama Crimson Tide and college football as a whole.  I may be a bit obsessed (or a lot obsessed) with Taylor Swift, and I've seen her in concert four times so far... some of the best times I've had by the way her concerts are quite the experience!  I'm also a huge tennis fan, and have played the sport for a good majority of my life.  I wish more people watched and appreciated tennis.  I'm currently a part of the Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox Beat Team on CLNS Radio, and post a weekly fantasy football and college football column during the season.