Inside look at the Boston Bruins

NHL.com provides in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 32 teams from Aug. 8-Sept. 8. Today, Boston Bruins.

When Jim Montgomery fills out his first lineup as coach of the Boston Bruins, he will have two familiar names to ease the transition: Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

After hinting all offseason that Bergeron and Krejci would return to Boston, each signed a one-year contract on August 8change the entire run of the offseason and elevate the outlook for 2022-23.

That said, it won’t be easy to return to the heights the centers have seen during their time with the Bruins, and there will certainly be differences.

Bruce Cassidy was fired as coach after six seasons, and he was replaced by Jim Montgomery with hopes that he could have better and more positive communication with players and help create more offense.

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“That we’re going to compete,” Montgomery said when asked about the trademark of his teams at his July 11 introductory news conference. “That we’re going to be a team known for their effort and execution. League, I want us to be known as a team you should be prepared for [for]otherwise you’re going to be put on your heels.”

The Bruins are coming off a season in which they topped 100 points, went 51-26-5, but lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference First Round in seven games. Boston president Cam Neely said the belief was the Bruins could have been ticketed for a longer run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Cassidy was fired on June 7; Montgomery was hired on July 1.

Video: Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery joins NHL tonight

“This is a 51-win team last year, so I think the staff did a really good job last year,” Montgomery said. “Going forward, I think there are areas that [can be improved]. I’m hoping with a new, different style – every coach has a different way of coaching – that it will lead to a little more offense.

The Bruins averaged 3.09 goals per game last season, 15th in the NHL. But in the playoffs, that number dropped to 2.86 goals per game.

“One of the things that stood out early on was Jim’s philosophy of getting our defensemen to move a little more on the offensive blue line,” Neely said. “Whether they end up scoring the goals is going to be one thing, but they can create a little more offense from being fluid on the offensive blue line.”

But the changes were not as seismic as they could have been.

Bergeron, the Bruins captain, signed for $2.5 million with $2.5 million in performance bonuses; Krejci signed for $1 million with $2 million in performance bonuses. They are expected to center the top two lines, as they did for more than a decade in Boston.

Bergeron, who considered retirement, will instead be back for his 19th NHL season. He scored his 400th goal in his final game of the 2021–22 regular season with a hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 28, and had 65 points (25 goals, 40 assists) in 73 games. He won the Selke Trophy as the top defensive forward in the NHL for a record fifth time.

Video: BUF@BOS: Bergeron scores three on Sabers in 5-0 win

“I hope he still feels good about his game because he had a pretty one [darn] good year,” Neely said in May.

Krejci returned after a one-season absence from the NHL, and will suit up for his 16th season in Boston. He had 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 51 games last season with Olomouc in the top professional league in his native Czech Republic.

But even with Bergeron and Krejci in the lineup, the start of the season may not go smoothly for the Bruins. Three key players will begin the season still fresh from offseason surgery. Forward Brad Marchand (both hips) and defender Charlie McAvoy (left shoulder) is scheduled to return in December and defends Matt Grzelcyk (right shoulder) is expected back in November.

The best case scenario is that the Bruins will be able to look at some young players, potentially including top forwards Fabian Lyselland Boston won’t fall too far behind until Grzelcyk, Marchand and McAvoy return.

For now, though, the returns of Bergeron and Krejci should serve as an important piece to get the Bruins to where they want to be, and still believe they can be, which belies a long run in the playoffs.

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