The Boston Bruins have been out of action for over a month now, but they are still reminded of their failures in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to the fact that the Florida Panthers have found their way into the Stanley Cup Final. Had the Bruins not found themselves eliminated by Florida in their first-round series, they could have found themselves in the spot where the Panthers are now.
Instead, after a historic regular season campaign, the B's threw away a 3-1 series lead against the Cats and now face a potentially franchise-defining offseason. Boston is back in the same spot they have been in for the past few years, and the decisions they are going to have to make are tougher than before. Should they try to get one more Cup run out of their veteran core, or begin to build towards their future?
Over the past few years, the Bruins prime objective has been to win one more championship with their current group, but each season, the results stay the same. And as this core group gets older, it's looking like they may be running out of gas. In an offseason full of massive decisions, the Bruins front office may finally have to decide to make moves that benefit their future this offseason.
Why it's time for the Bruins to address their future
The Bruins are almost out of holdovers from their 2011 Stanley Cup championship team, with only Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci remaining from that team. Over the years, key figures of that core group have gradually gone away, but the B's have been able to bring in key young players such as David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy to keep this team relevant.
Boston has basically gone all in over the past few years to try to get one more championship run out of this team, but they have rarely had any sort of postseason success. Despite making the playoffs in each of the past seven seasons, the Bruins have made it past the second round just once, with that one run seeing them lose in the Stanley Cup Final to the St. Louis Blues.
While it would obviously be great to see team legends in Bergeron, Marchand, and Krejci win another ring, the writing has been on the wall for quite some time now. This team can win at will during the regular season, but when the playoffs roll around, they do not have what it takes to win anymore, which is why it may finally be time to change things up.
Playoff hockey is a completely different game, as the pace and unpredictability of the game increase tenfold. Those are two elements of the game that Boston does not benefit from. They excel when they can set things up, dictate the pace of games, and use their pre-game work to dominate their opponent. Unfortunately, that's just not how playoff hockey works.
Everything is sped up in the postseason and opponent's have more time to adapt. The Panthers aggressive forecheck in their first-round series found things that worked early on that they used to complete a stunning 3-1 comeback. While Boston has the talent, they didn't have what it took to overcome Florida because they feasted on their ability to create havoc in the blink of an eye.
Speed is a crucial piece of postseason hockey, and Boston doesn't have much of it. Bergeron, Marchand, and Krejci are all great players in their own right, but their styles of play aren't compatible with what is needed to win in the postseason. Designed passing plays look great when they work, but you need players who can break the game open and create chances from nothing with their speed.
It's notable that two of the most aggressive forechecking teams in the NHL in the Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights are in the Final over all the other teams in the league. When push comes to shove, the Bruins are stylistically a team that is not designed to win in the playoffs. The truth is they haven't been for quite awhile, and it's time for the front office to notice this.
Bergeron is going to be 38 next season, Krejci will be 37, and Marchand will be 35. There's a pretty decent chance that Bergeron and Krejci call it a career, and at this point, that may be the best for all parties involved, as difficult as it may be to admit that. Both guys missed time against the Panthers, and while Bergeron was not playing at 100 percent, isn't it telling that Boston lost each of the three games he played in that series?
It's time to face the facts; Boston needs a makeover. Their veteran core isn't capable of winning another championship, and the front office needs to work on taking advantage of the primes of Pastrnak and McAvoy. It's a very tough pill to swallow, but the Bruins path to winning a title involves getting younger, and if that means moving on from Bergeron, Krejci, and maybe even Marchand, it may be time to make those tough calls.