Bean: Trying to match Vegas' optimism for the Bruins this season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
This seems like the biggest “we’ll see” Bruins season there’s been in a while.
U.S. & World
It certainly isn’t the best team they’ve had over the last five years, but they’re nowhere near bad. Even playing in an extremely tough division, this should be a playoff team. I think that’s a positive outlook.
Vegas thinks that isn’t positive enough. The various sportsbooks currently place the Bruins as a top-five Cup contender, with PointsBet giving the Bruins +1200 odds, which is tied with the Leafs for fourth-best odds -- odds provided by our partner, PointsBet Sportsbook.
PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.
Now, the fact that the Leafs are that high should caution you from reading these as any sort of power rankings. Toronto’s likely up there because this year’s format guarantees a Canadian team will reach the conference final.
But back to the Bruins. Sure, their odds are a big dropoff from the top three teams, but fourth seems high, doesn’t it? I think Colorado, Vegas, Tampa, Philly, St. Louis and Washington are all better, plus there’s always a surprise team or two.
Am I overstating the loss of Torey Krug and the uncertainty the Bruins have both on defense and in their middle six?
I don’t think so, but seeing these odds has at least intrigued me. I want to get into Vegas’ mindset and find that level of 2021 Bruins optimism.
Here’s what I’ve got: The Bruins have two good goalies, which can go a long way in a 56-game season. Every game, especially when they’re all divisional games, matters significantly, so being able to spell Tuukka Rask with Jaroslav Halak is big. A team like Washington doesn’t have that certainty in net.
The Bruins’ biggest weakness last season was their middle-six wings. That problem hasn’t been solved, but the B’s are better-suited to fill those spots than they were last season. Let’s call second-line right wing and both third-line wings the positions in question.
Craig Smith is a slam dunk to capably fill one of the right wing spots. Ondrej Kase, who scored 20 goals three seasons ago, is a high-upside scratch ticket the Bruins are hoping will fill the other.
Even in this exercise in optimism, I can’t lie to you and tell you Nick Ritchie looked like a third-liner with the B's last season, but perhaps he just had a bumpy adjustment and has more to give. Maybe Jack Studnicka plays so well in David Pastrnak’s absence that he forces himself into the lineup full-time.
Perhaps Charlie McAvoy takes such a big leap forward this season that it doesn’t matter who’s playing next to him. Maybe the youngsters the Bruins are throwing into the mix on the left side — Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril, perhaps Urho Vaakanainen at some point — are so good that the Bruins don’t miss a beat from the departures of Krug and Zdeno Chara.
If all these things happen and the Bruins stay generally healthy — that includes Pastrnak’s return from hip surgery — then sure, Vegas has a point and I’m guilty of overreacting to a bad offseason.
I would say “I’m not betting on that,” but I’m not that clever.