Happy New Year’s Day.
Also known as Happy Making Promises You’re Gonna Break Day.
Did you already burn your resolution to the ground with some 2 a.m. fast food or drinking? The gym is probably open today, but who has the time? And trying to do legitimately anything in this weather? Waste. Of. Precious. Time.
Maybe you just want a resolution that requires almost zero effort. Can’t blame you, really.
So, for those of us that want to take the responsibility out of our attempts for self-improvement, here are five Bruins resolutions you can hitch your wagon to this year.
5. Make #WriteInHeinen a real thing
Danton Heinen, the quiet rookie with the deep voice, has tallied an equally quiet-but-deep 26 points in 33 games this season.
That’s actually left him with the fourth-most points among first-year pros, just 12 behind the Canucks’ Brock Boeser for the lead league. Heinen has basically done this as the 2017 version of 2011 Brad Marchand, with humble beginnings on the fourth line leading to bigger and better roles legitimately everywhere throughout the Boston lineup.
And because this is the time of year where we all need to recklessly throw our emotions behind something seemingly minor just for the sake of it, it’s time to make Heinen an NHL All-Star.
He deserves it, dammit, so use your write-ins and use ‘em often.
(For the record, I’m not sure how the NHL All-Star voting process works these days. Can you even do a write-in vote? If not, let’s find a way to hack the system.)
4. Stay true and committed to current path
The Bruins have put themselves in a situation where an injury to a forward puts Anders Bjork or Frank Vatrano back in the lineup. And if Bjork or Vatrano are not believed to be a good fit, a (healthy) Peter Cehlarik is an option. Further reinforcements in Providence include the likes of Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson or even Matt Beleskey. The Bruins are also in a situation that’s made Adam McQuaid their current seventh defenseman -- that will change at some point, or at least when their current rotation cools down a bit, you’d imagine -- and with Paul Postma behind him on the depth chart as their eighth guy.
In other words, barring a rash of season-ending injuries that would change the entire complexion of their roster, the Bruins do not need to trade an asset for a bottom-six scorer, defensive stopper, or extra body on their backend come the trade deadline.
In fact, they should probably avoid it all costs.
Listen, Drew Stafford filled a need and was a great addition last season, and there’s no denying that. But this is a B’s team full of kids that need the legitimate chance to prove their worth, and establish themselves as part of the B’s future plans. For many, this is similar to the jump that the Bruins made from the 2008 postseason to the 2009 postseason. 2008 was about getting your feet wet and experiencing the animal known as playoff hockey, while 2009 was about establishing that you understood the situation and that you were ready for it.
That’s how you establish your core pieces, after all. In this case, 2017 was your 2008, and this spring should be your 2009.
Playoff minutes for the club’s young guns mean infinitely more to the Bruins than additional playoff experience for an over-30 veteran and pending free agent or two.
3. Officially put the Canadiens in the rearview mirror
The Bruins will exit their bye week with three games in seven days against the hated Canadiens later this month. These games are going to be straight-up insane, too.
Not only will this be the first time that Claude Julien goes against the Bruins since they fired him last February, but it will likely come with the Bruins having the ability to completely and officially bury the Canadiens out of the picture in mid-January.
Julien’s Habs are already in a massive hole, and begin the year 12 points behind the Bruins. And with two more games played, too. So, the Bruins winning just two out of those three head-to-head games would be ultimate double-whammies, and completely erase the idea of the Canadiens posing a playoff threat to the Black and Gold.
And any playoff picture without Carey Price is a great picture for the B’s.
2. Continue to find ways to limit Zdeno Chara’s workload
Here’s an interesting tidbit for you: Excluding nights cut short due to an in-game injury, of which there’s been three during his tenure, just 14 of Zdeno Chara’s 857 regular-season games in a Bruins uniform have ended with the 6-foot-9 captain logging less than 20 minutes of time on ice. That’s 1.6 percent. Here’s an even more interesting follow-up note: Two of those 14 games have come in the B’s last three games.
The 40-year-old Chara, who still trains like an absolute monster and sets the tone for the rest of the roster’s off-ice dedication, probably doesn’t love it. But the Bruins should.
He’s still your No. 1 defenseman, especially on the left side. He still gets his ice in the most important of situations on the penalty kill and with the B’s protecting leads late, and needs to be as close to 100 percent rested if he’s to take his game to the next level in the postseason. And that’s when those 25-minute nights become acceptable. Not in regular season blowouts and ho-hum victories over the league’s worst teams.
1. Beat the Maple Leafs
The Lightning are running away with the Atlantic, and everybody behind the B’s and Maple Leafs seems to falling over one another to take themselves out of contention by the end of the month.
Barring an insane hot streak from a trailer or arctic cooldown in Boston or Toronto, a first-round showdown between the old rivals seems like a lock.
So, it would help if the Bruins could, y’know, beat the Maple Leafs.
In the Auston Matthews Era of Leafs Hockey, the Bruins are 0-5-1 against Toronto. (Matthews, meanwhile, has missed the last two games of that six-game sample.) And while Matthews is an obviously incredible and franchise-changing piece for the Leafs, much of that has to do with the Leafs’ Frederik Andersen, a goaltender that boasts a straight-up insane 9-0-0 record and .944 save percentage in his career against the B’s.
The Bruins fortunately (I guess if that’s the word we want to go with) have two more head-to-head meetings with the Leafs this season, and could even draw even in the season series, which was swept by the Leafs in a weekend back-to-back in November.
It almost goes without saying that the Bruins don’t need to beat the Maple Leafs in the regular season to ensure a series win come playoff time -- these things tend to have a weird way of balancing out at one point or another -- but it would definitely help the confidence.
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