1) Will Brad Marchand continue to carry the offense?
Balance has traditionally been a staple of the Bruins offensive output. While each player certainly has their roles to fill, no one player has consistently dominated the teams goal department on a nightly basis. At least up to this point, that no longer seems to be the case. Brad Marchand has doubled the goal total of the next closest Bruin, and while he may not be picking up as many helpers (yet), the wily instigator has seemingly embraced the role of leading goal scorer for an offense that has more than the occasional tendency to stall. Marchand’s game winning goal against the Jets on Sunday (on the powerplay no less) was a prime example of a finishers goal that this team has lacked dating all the way back to last years playoffs. If Marchand continues to fill that void, the Bruins should continue to have a strong regular season.
2) Can the Bruins put together a full sixty-minute effort?
While the B’s certainly boast one of the league’s deepest lineups, there has been a startling lack of consistency thus far in the season. The only thing the team seems to be consistent about is playing lack-luster hockey in the first two periods. Even though the season is only just a quarter of the way through, the team has often fallen behind early (two of the games against the Rangers come to mind), or has sat back and either blown leads late, or barely held on for wins (think of the games against Buffalo and Carolina). When this particular Bruins team is on their game they have the capability to be dominant (albeit in their own physical and aggressive way). Those games have been few and far between, and most become more routine come playoff time if the team hopes to make a run.
3) Can the B’s keep pace?
The Bruins are the reigning division champions, and there aren’t any gaping holes to suggest the team can’t replicate it’s success in the division of the last five years. That being said, the Northeast Division has been considered by some to be the surprise of the season. Four teams currently hold playoff spots, and perhaps even more surprising, the team with the division’s best record is the hated Montreal Canadiens. While the season has a long way to go, the B’s cannot afford to back into the division title as they have in years past. The easiest way to avoid that problem is to avoid playing down to teams that don’t have as much talent. If the Bruins are going to keep pace, and build toward May and June, it starts with taking care of business against inferior opponents (such as the teams from Florida).
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