BOSTON (CBS) — While the final four teams in the NHL battle it out for the right to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup at some point in late June, the Boston Bruins now have to look ahead to next season.
Their season ended at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, and there’s nothing worse than a loss to the Canadiens to send the Bruins into the off-season. Yes, the Bruins were the best team in the regular season and have a the President’s Trophy to prove it, but after such a disappointing showing in the playoffs some changes are likely on the way.
Bruins radio analyst Bob Beers joined Sunday’s edition of Sports Final on WBZ-TV to shed some light on what those changes could be, and a lot of it has to do with the team’s speed.
“I don’t know about big-time (changes), but there will definitely be changes made,” he told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton. “I do think they’ll try to make a couple of changes to the team, in the sense of maybe the philosophy and the way they play. I still think they want to keep that heavy, good fore-checking team, but probably add a little more speed and versatility to their lineup – especially at the forward lines.”
Both Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton are unrestricted free agents, making them free to sign with any team. Iginla scored 30 goals on the B’s top line in his first season in Boston, and while the line struggled during the postseason he still scored five goals — three of them coming against Montreal. Beers would like to see Iginla back in a Bruins’ sweater, but isn’t sure if he’ll rejoin that top line alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
“I would like to see him back. He fit in really well with Krejci and Lucic during the regular season, but I don’t know if that’s the spot for him for an entire year,” said Beers. “At the same time, even when he wasn’t scoring you like the competitive level that he brought. Night-in and night-out he was there working and doing the little things that needed to be done, and he still had 30 goals at the end of the season.
“Ultimately we said it would be what he did in the playoffs. Do you come up big in the playoffs? He did a couple of times, but he didn’t have the impact, along with Krejci and Lucic alongside him, that the line should. They certainly didn’t have an impact against the Canadiens,” added Beers.
Sports Final: Video: What Happened To Bruins vs. Montreal?
As for Thornton, Beers said he may be a causality of that changing philosophy.
“That is part of the change in philosophy where maybe your fourth line is a little more speed and versatility. That’s a question they have this off-season,” said Beers. “Thornton has been really good for this team for a number of years, and because he’s a unrestricted free agent everyone is asking about him. He’s ingrained himself into the community, and I think he still has game and can still play. When that line (with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille) was together and healthy they were an effective threesome. But if you have a couple of injuries, are they as effective? They weren’t as effective as a group this year.”
Though there are changes on the horizon, Beers sees the Bruins being in the thick of things next spring.
“Their core is still intact and they’ll be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference,” he said. “Where they go from there, we don’t know yet.”
Beers also shares his thoughts on the struggles of Brad Marchand, and the return of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg!
Catch WBZ-TV’s Sports Final and Sports Final OT every Sunday night at 11:35pm!