Bruins projected lineup for 2023-24 season draws concern

Published September 1, 2023 at 0:13
BY AUSTIN SABOURIN
It's a rarity to witness a team bidding farewell to both of its top centers due to retirement in a single summer. However, the surprises don't stop there, as this team has also said goodbye to two pivotal top-six wingers and a top-four caliber defenseman, among others, over the past couple of months.

Despite these significant departures, the Bruins are not lacking talent throughout their roster. The franchise has demonstrated an admirable ability to navigate such player transitions effectively over the past decade. Credit is due to the Bruins for consistently finding ways to manage these challenges. Nevertheless, the task ahead for head coach Jim Montgomery and general manager Don Sweeney looms substantial.

While the Eastern Conference remains well within their reach, thanks to the potential of their roster, the true challenge lies in assembling the right line combinations and defensive pairings to maximize the output from their skillful lineup.

Anticipating the Lineup


Forwards
LW—C—RW

Jake DeBrusk—Pavel ZachaDavid Pastrnak
Brad MarchandCharlie CoyleFabian Lysell
James van Riemsdyk—Morgan GeekieTrent Frederic
Milan LucicPatrick BrownJakub Lauko
The inclusion of Fabian Lysell among the forwards generates excitement. As the Bruins' top forward prospect boasting undeniable top-six potential, Lysell's early debut could materialize with an impressive showing during training camp. Given the offensive prowess lost during the off-season (bid farewell to Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Taylor Hall, Tyler Bertuzzi, and others), Lysell's elevation might infuse the much-needed elements of goal-scoring, playmaking, and speed.

The Zacha-Pastrnak partnership offers a particularly intriguing dynamic. With momentum from a career-best 61-goal season, Pastrnak's synergy with Zacha will play a pivotal role in driving 5-on-5 offense in the upcoming season.

Defensive Outlook

Defensemen

Matt Grzelcyk—Charlie McAvoy
Hampus LindholmBrandon Carlo
Derek ForbortKevin Shattenkirk
In the realm of defense, the blueprint remains clear with a minor adjustment on the right side of the third pairing—Kevin Shattenkirk potentially stepping in for Connor Clifton.

The Grzelcyk-McAvoy pairing stands as one of the league's premier duos. Their on-ice cohesion is evident from leading all pairings with 600 or more 5-on-5 minutes played in goals-for percentage (70.59%) during the previous season. Only 15 goals were conceded when they were on the ice, showcasing their defensive prowess.

The promising Lindholm-Carlo pairing accounted for an impressive 51.87% of shot attempts, 54.02% of shots on net, 55.65% of scoring chances, and 54.02% of goals scored during 5-on-5 play last season.

Goaltending Strength

Starter: Linus Ullmark
Backup: Jeremy Swayman

Undoubtedly, the Bruins' foundation of strength, especially in the regular season, resides in their goaltending.

The formidable tandem from the previous season—Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman—remains unchanged. Ullmark's Vezina Trophy-winning performance led him to top the league in wins, save percentage, and GAA.

Regarding Swayman, he serves not only as an exceptional backup but also ranks among the league's top 10 netminders in his own right.

While some moderation in Ullmark's regular season brilliance is to be expected, even a slight decline would maintain his formidable presence. Meanwhile, Swayman's consistent performance holds the potential to challenge Ullmark for the top position.

The management aims to evenly distribute the workload to ensure freshness for the playoffs, mirroring their successful goalie management strategies from previous years.

As the Bruins navigate an era marked by altered goal-scoring dynamics due to off-season departures, their defensive core and goaltending prowess stand as the keys to success for the 2023-24 season. With the current roster composition, prevailing in defensive battles appears to be the team's central approach.
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Bruins projected lineup for 2023-24 season draws concern

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