The 2020 Bruins are officially back today. Boston will take on the Philadelphia Flyers at 3:00 on NBC.
After nearly 5 months without hitting the ice, the Black and Gold look to pick up where they left off. Here are 3 areas of play that will be interesting for Bruins fans to follow.
Skill vs. Spirit
One aspect that will jump out is which players are more effective right from puck drop. Will David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci set the tone by peppering Philadelphia? Or will the aggressive for-checking of Sean Kuraly and Joakim Nordstrom ignite Boston's powder-keg?
So far many highly skilled skaters, like Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby, have had no problem getting on the board. I would imagine a couple of Boston's top point producers fill out the stat sheet. Also, the bottom forward groupings will definitely cause havoc for the Flyers.
Who's doing what with who?
Head Coach Bruce Cassidy tinkered with the lines before the shutdown and the break has not stopped this line of thinking. Jake DeBrusk was moved down the 3rd line the last few games before the stoppage. Now he is back as Krejci's left-wing. Who will man # 46's right side?
Will it be the young, offensive-minded Jack Studnicka? The physical brute Nick Ritchie? Whoever is accompanying Krejci and DeBrusk will have a spotlight on their back.
The Bruins need to get offensive production from their second line if they want to raise Lord Stanley. While these Round Robin games will not reveal everything, it would be a great sign if Krejci's line produces quality scoring chances.
In the NHL's return to play, there was a variance in the amount of penalties called. The Penguins, Rangers, and Hurricanes all had 7 power-play opportunities. While the Canadiens and Panthers had only 3 chances combined on the man advantage.
The Bruins are the best special teams roster in the Eastern Conference. Boston ranks second in power play percentage at a 25.2. The Bruins are also nails when down a man, slotting in at third with an 84.2% on the penalty kill. The only other team to be top 3 in both categories are the Edmonton Oilers.
Boston can do just fine 5-5. But, their top power-play unit of Pastrnak, Bergeron, Marchand, DeBrusk, and Torey Krug running the show has been lethal. Their penalty killing, led by Zdeno Chara, is also very impressive. Producing on special teams can provide a boost to your bench, while at the same time stiffening your opponent.
Those are just a few components that Bruins fans will want to pay attention to. While these facets are important in the tournament, their significance will only increase as the playoffs begin.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones