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10 Reasons Why Bruins Fans Should be Happy about the '23/'24 Season

It's a bitter pill to swallow anytime your team gets eliminated in the playoffs, and some years are worse than others. 

When your team sets the regular season wins record and goes all in at the trade deadline, for example, just to lose in the first round against a team that barely squeaked into the playoffs—well, that's the stuff of which nightmares are made.

This doesn't feel like that, though.

Last night, the Bruins were eliminated at home in Game 6 vs. the Florida Panthers. Yes, the better team won even though it felt like at times in this series we could have taken it from them. But even if you had somehow beaten Florida, what chances did you have against the Rangers? Or one of the juggernauts from the west like Dallas or Vancouver?

It wasn't our year. And that's okay.

It was a season of unknowns, ups and downs, and questions seeking answers. However, as we reflect back on the '23/'24 season, there is plenty to be excited about and proud of. Let's dig in.

1. In A Bridge Season, You Won a Playoff Round

Last year, after the historic season and equally historic playoff elimination, your roster lost the following players to free agency, trades, and retirement:

  • Patrice Bergeron
    Patrice Bergeron, who won 2011 Stanley Cup with Bruins, retiring after 19  NHL seasons | CBC Sports
  • David Krejci
  • Taylor Hall
  • Dmitry Orlov
  • Nick Foligno
  • Tyler Bertuzzi
  • Garnet Hathaway
  • Tomas Nosek
  • Craig Smith
  • Connor Clifton

That's almost half your roster, and mostly from the top half of your roster. Most people expected the Bruins to miss the playoffs completely but they surprised people because other guys stepped up. More on that later.

So, after losing your captain, your top 2 centers, two top-6 wingers, your 3rd best defenseman, and many more important depth players, you went 47-20-15, finished 2nd in your division, and won a playoff round. That's something to be proud of.

2. Jeremy Swayman IS That Guy

It's hard to put into words what we saw from Swayman this season. He and Ullmark basically split the regular season workload, with Sway starting 43 games and Ullmark starting 39. They posted almost identical stats:

Player Record GAA SV% Shutouts
Swayman 25-10-8 2.53 .916% 3
Ullmark 22-10-7 2.57 .915% 2

When the playoff started, however, it was Swayman's net and boy was it beautiful. You probably don't get by Toronto without over-the-top incredible play from Sway, who made acrobatic, season-saving stops with a smile on his face while singing along with whatever song was playing on the house speakers.

It's the kind of crazy that you can get behind.


After this playoff performance, the verdict is clear: Swayman is your present and future between the pipes. Lock him up long-term!

3. Mason Lohrei Has Arrived

It's not easy for any young player to step into the league and make an immediate impact... and it's even harder to do when you're a defenseman.

Mason Lohrei didn't seem to have that problem.

Still just 23 years old, the kid started the season in Providence and then got called up in November, becoming the first ever Louisiana-born player to play in the NHL. He made an immediate impact with his skating ability that reminded B's fans of a young Torey Krug.

He played 41 games in the regular season, putting up 13 points while earning trust from head coach Jim Montgomery that garnered him increased responsibility. And, with a Bruins defensive corps that had 9 healthy, NHL-caliber defenseman, Lohrei played well enough to stick in the lineup.

When you watch him play, you know that he can skate like the wind and Monty trusts him enough to play him in all situations. Like many rookies, he's prone to mistakes from time to time but when you see him skate his way out of trouble in the defensive zone or show his offensive instincts on the powerplay, you know that he'll be a lock in the B's lineup for years to come.

4. The Bruins Made Low-Risk Contract "Bets" that Paid Off

Entering last offseason, the Bruins had dead salary cap due to overages from last season. They also had little in the way of valuable assets after going all-in at the trade deadline.

So, GM Don Sweeney knew that he wouldn't be a bigger spender on July 1st when free agency opened. Instead, they'd have to go digging for gold.

It was a bargain bin summer for the Bruins, and here's where they ended up:

  • James Van Riemsdyk - 1 year, $1M
  • Milan Lucic - 1 year, $1M
  • Kevin Shattenkirk - 1 year, $1.05M
  • Jesper Boqvist - 1 year, $775k
  • Danton Heinen - 1 7ear, $775k (signed in October)

None of these players will knock your socks off, but for the money you paid them, they delivered and then some (except for Lucic, but that's another story).

JVR added a net-front presence on the powerplay. Shattenkirk added veteran stability to the blue line. Boqvist was a high-energy checking center who could step in on special teams. Even Heinen, who was a mid-season sign, earned a roster spot after a PTO and played much of the season in the top 6. 

You're not going to get many home runs when you don't have much to spend, but Sweeney did well with the little they did have and these players all contributed to the roster.

5. Coyle and Zacha Stepped Up as Top-6 Centers

The Bruins' center succession success: How Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha  replaced two all-timers - The Athletic

"What are we going to do without Bergeron and Krejci? Who are our top centers?"

We were all asking these questions last summer. We all knew that Coyle and Zacha were good players, but were they ready to take on this workload and responsibility? They would need to play more minutes, provide offense, and play against other team's top defensive pairings every shift. 

Could they do it?

Yes, they could.

Last season, Bergeron and Krejci combined for 114 points.

This season, Coyle and Zacha combined for 119.

That didn't solve all of their problems in the top 6 by any means, but these two guys stepped up and delivered in the regular season. (The playoffs were a different story, but this blog is about being positive!)

6. You Beat Toronto in the Playoffs. Again.

There's absolutely nothing like watching the fans in Maple Leaf Square get their hearts broken in unison on national TV. It's my favorite annual tradition.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Anger, sadness and optimism from fans after loss to  Boston

The series was a nail-biter and the Bruins frustrated the hell out of their fans, but they got it done in OT in Game 7 and put the final nail in the coffin of the "Core 4" in Toronto. That's something to be proud of.

7. Another Great Season from Pastrnak

It wasn't that long ago when Bruins fans had to be satisfied with their leading producers put up ~75 points, looking around the league at guys like Gaborik, Stamkos, Kovalchuk, and Iginla saying, "Why can't we get a player like that?"

We have that player now.

Pasta put up another stellar season with 47 goals and 110 points, putting him 5th in the league behind only Kucherov, MacKinnon, McDavid, and Panarin. And, he did it while playing with Pavel Zacha.

I'm 33 years old, and he's the best Bruins goal scorer of our lifetime.

He's a legitimate superstar and still in his prime. Enjoy it, folks.

8. Justin Brazeau Fulfills the Power Forward Role

Ever since the Bruins traded Milan Lucic in 2015, there has been a revolving door of players coming through as the Bruins sought another big body power foward who could play significant minutes. 

Most of them failed to deliver. Nick Ritchie. Matt Beleskey. David Backes. Jimmy Hayes. Rick Nash. Brett Ritchie.

None of them ever really panned out.

Until Brazeau.


Of course, Brazeau is not prime Lucic, but he has been an exceptional surprise this season. At 6'5" and 220, he's a big boy but he skates very well and he's got some offensive pop. He'll continue to develop (he's only 26) and should be a middle-6 forward in the B's lineup moving forward. Not bad for an undrafted guy!

9. Goalie Hugs


Need I say more?

10. The Bruins Have $20M+ in Cap Space This Summer

The Bruins have had little-to-no cap space to maneuver for the past few seasons, and now they have the rare opportunity to make some impactful changes in free agency. They have several expiring contracts, including players like Debrusk, Forbort, Shattenkirk, JVR, Heinen, Grzylcek, and others.

Our obvious top priority: lock up Jeremy Swayman long term.

Beyond that, the possibilities get interesting. Do they go get a top 6 center like Elias Lindholm? Do they try to trade Ullmark to one of the many teams that need a goalie? Will Debrusk get an extension?

The offseason checklist blog will come another day, but just the fact that the Bruins have room to maneuver, make smart decisions, and add some pieces that can help them win next year is a rare and exciting opportunity.

Enjoy it, B's fans! It's going to be a fun summer.

And if you aren't already, make sure you're catching all the latest episodes of Dropping the Gloves.