Can The Current Bruins Be Big And Bad?

Photo: Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins head coach, Jim Montgomery, wants his team to be more physical this season. In the past few seasons, some of the reasons the Bruins have not advanced further in the postseason is due to opponents playing a more physical, heavy game. At times, the Bruins organization has tried to address the lack of physicality with the acquisitions of players like Nick Ritchie and Nick Foligno, and now Milan Lucic is returning. But the team has been structured around a solid defensive system and puck-moving defensemen who do not play an overly physical game. Montgomery is hoping the current roster can adjust to a more high-contact style of hockey, but can the same players manufacture that kind of change? Or does General Manager Don Sweeney have to bring in players who are willing to make more body contact every night?

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But before those theories are considered, let’s take into account whether the lack of physical presence on recent Bruins teams is a fact or an exaggerated narrative. The Bruins were 11th in the National Hockey League in hits per game played, with just under 25 per contest. Out of the list of top hits collectors in the league, the Bruins had one (Connor Clifton) and four other players who are former Bruins in the top 12.

Sweeney has made it a priority to add size to the lineup as well. There is a chance that the Bruins will be able to assemble a lineup that has nobody under six feet tall. Two of Boston’s top prospects, Mason Lohrei and John Beecher, could start the season in Black and Gold and are both big hockey players. There is an emphasis going forward on size and heaviness. But does that translate into physicality and toughness?

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The only true way to become more physical is to have a culture change that involves scouting players who have great size and toughness. The “Big, Bad Bruins were a thing for many years in the ’70s and into the ’80s. For the Bruins to really get back to that image, the team will have to commit to acquiring those players. It will be much harder to generate physicality from a group where some of the players play with more finesse. There is less bang for the buck on this team. We’ll see how committed Montgomery and the Bruins will be to this newfound emphasis on big and bad.

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Bruins drop Game 2 to Toronto 3-2. Auston Matthews was the best player on the ice. Bruins lack urgency. One reason the goalie decision was the wrong one. Andrew Peeke leaves injured. Now it’s a series. 
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