Well Bruins fans, I don't want to remind you of what happened a year ago today, but with how much has happened let's take a quick look back. From June 12th, 2019 to today the world doesn't even seem like the same place. Going from Game 7 of the Cup Finals to not even having sports at all. With everything that has happened to this team let's look back at all the changes, and even turn an optimistic eye to the future.
Start At The Start
Unfortunately I have to start somewhere, and that is Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The day started with such hope and excitement as the Bruins faced the Blues in TD Garden for all the marbles. We all know how it ended, but after some time to cool down that hope and excitement about his team returned. A bounce here or a call there and the Cup could have been ours, just wait till next year we all thought. With our cap space minimal and no high draft picks it wasn't going to be a summer of fireworks.
The 2019 Draft
The Bruins entered the 2019 draft without their second and fourth-round picks, leaving them with just five picks. The first, 30th overall, was used to select John Beecher. This season in the NCAA Beecher put up 16 points in just 31 games, not bad for his first season. The Bruins next pick wouldn't come until the third round at 92nd overall. The Bruins selected Quinn Olson, who would also play in the NCAA, scoring 15 points in 31 games. Again not bad numbers for the first season in a new league.
The Bruins next pick would come in the fifth round at 154th overall. The Bruins would select Roman Bychkov, who scored 26 points in 62 MHL games. Next in the sixth round at 185th the Bruins would take Matias Mantykivi. After impressive showings in the junior, Liiga Mantykivi made the jump to the pro league and scored six points in 42 games. The team’s final pick would be used on Jake Schmaltz in the seventh round at 192nd. This season in 47 USHL games Schmaltz would score 32 points. While those numbers might not jump off the page, Beecher is considered one of the team's best prospects. Add in some potential from Olson and Mantykivi and that's a pretty good draft for only having five picks.
With the Bruins tight to the cap, this summer was going to be about keeping our RFAs. The Bruins would sign Charlie McAvoy to a three-year bridge deal with a $4.9 Million cap hit. Brandon Carlo, the second half of the Bruins young two-headed defensive monster, was signed to a two-year deal with a $2.85 Million cap hit. The final RFA locked up was Danton Heinen, who signed a two-year deal with a $2.8 Million cap hit.
As for UFAs, the Bruins made a few small additions. First,the Par Lindholm signing, a one year deal worth $1.7 Million. Lindholm hasn't made a huge impact, but he wasn't expected to mostly doing a great job filling in on the fourth line. The Bruins other NHL addition was Brett Ritchie, who signed a one year deal for $1 Million, but he has spent the majority of the season in the AHL. The Bruins also lost a pair of key contributors. The first being Marcus Johansson, who signed a deal with Buffalo for two years at $4.5 Million per. The other departure was Noel Acciari ,who signed a three year deal with Florida paying him $1.66 Million per year.
The Regular Season
The Bruins began their scorched earth campaign going 9-1-2 in the first month of the season. The team followed it up with a 9-2-3 record in November. The Bruins finished the month on an eight-game winning streak from November 19th to December 3rd. The Bruins would struggle in December to close out games, only going 6-4-5. At the halfway point in the season the Bruins had a 24-7-10 record and looked like one of The Cup favorites again.
January saw the Bruins finish 6-3-2, with a win coming right before the All-Star break. That win was the start of a six-game winning streak from January 21st till February 8th. A loss to the Red Wings would end that streak, but not for long as the Bruins would win another five straight from February 12th to the 21st. The Bruins would finish February with an 11-3-0 record.
The Trade Deadline
With the Bruins sitting in first place in the entire league, and their closest competition making additions, the Bruins made a pair of moves to improve for the playoffs and into the future. The first trade would send David Backes, and $4.5 of his $6 Million cap hit, our 2020 first round pick and Axel Anderson to the Ducks for Ondrej Kase. The other trade would also be with the Ducks, seeing Nick Ritchie coming to Boston and Danton Heinen going to the Ducks. While both moves addressed team needs, they more importantly gave the Bruins some needed cap space heading into this offseason.
March And The Twelfth
The Bruins would continue their hot play from February, going 3-1 in their first four games. The team currently has a 43-14-12 record, the best in the league, and then came March 12th. A day that will live on forever in our minds. With COVID 19 making it's way into the sports world and causing a global shutdown, the NHL season was paused with plans to resume play when it was safe to do so, hopefully in a month or so. How wrong we were. Here we are now a full three months later and we are still a month at best away from a training camp to start returning to play. But all is not lost. With plans in place and dates to look forward to, a light is finally at the end of this tunnel.
Final Regular Season Numbers/Awards
With the regular season officially over the Bruins had some exceptional seasons. Rask and Halak are co-winners of the Jennings award given to the goalie or goalies whose team allowed the fewest goals. Pasta would lead the team in points with 95 and in goals with 48. Those 48 goals also tied him for the league lead, making him a co-winner of the Rocket Richard Trophy with Ovechkin.
Brad Marchand was on his way to a new career-high in assists, with 59 in 70 games, only six away from a new high. Patrice Bergeron was having another great season, with his fourth 30 goal season in the last five years. Not to be left out, Krug was another Bruin who had an excellent season finishing with 49 points in just 61 games. Krug was just a point away from his fourth straight 50 point season. Finally, the Bruins won the President's Trophy as the team with the best record in the league.
Wow, what a year it's been, from heartbreak to hope and optimism and then confusion and maybe even hopelessness. It’s been a crazy year even just in the world of sports, and the new playoff format promises to keep the crazy going. Add in the draft lottery,where the Penguins or Oilers could get a top pick, there is still some exciting times to come. Like I always say please don’t forget to check out our other team pages for all the latest news, stay safe and GO BRUINS!
Featured image courtesy of Harry How/Getty Images.