The Bruins Have Been Solid This Year. But It Could Have Been Even Better.
The National Hockey League All-Star weekend is upon us and David Pastrnak is the lone Boston Bruin on Team Atlantic. Just as quick as it arrived, it’ll leave just as fast so this gives us the chance to look at a first half recap and the biggest contributors of the Boston Bruins.
As it sits right now, the Bruins sit in seventh place in the overall league standings with 58 points on the year, tied with Columbus. Only four points separate them from second place, proving the log jam in the East. With that being said, I don’t think we’ve seen the full potential of the Bruins like we did last season.
Playing Below Their Level
I feel Boston should be higher in the standings than they currently are. But a number of factors play into that result, which the B’s aim to correct going into the second half of the year. Eleven of their games this season have been losses to teams lower than them in the standings. Now, I get you’re not going to win every game, but those are the games you can never take lightly. They’ve struggled with scoring in the second half of games, and you have to believe Bruce Cassidy and the coaching staff will work on that after the break.
Each game going forward is important, especially if they want to knock down some big teams ahead of them.
At the start of the year, Boston had some goaltending issues. Tuukka Rask wasn’t himself, as he couldn’t find his rhythm that Bruins fans are so used to seeing. He had a high GAA and low SV% and then actually stepped away from the team for a bit. When he came back, it appeared as if he regrouped and found his game and has finished off the first half on a higher note than he started on. He now goes into the break with a record of 14-8-0-3, a GAA 2.43 and the SV% of .919. Now dealing with concussion issues, one can only hope this much-needed break puts him into a position to be ready for their next game.
Jaroslav Halak was leading the way in productivity when Rask was up and down at the start of the season. Halak was the opposite of Rask. He started off hot then dropped back once Rask improved. Jaroslav has always been a journeymen, and you almost wondered how many games he’d get to start. The two have played 26 games a piece. Halak finished out the first half with a 13-9-0-2, a 2.47 GAA and a .919 SV%. For the rest of the season, they need much more consistent goaltending from these two if they want to make some noise.
The Bruins scoring has always been deadly and something opponents need to look out for. The top line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are exciting to watch. They continue with the same force this year as they did last season, and between the three they have 150 points.
So it’s a no-brainer what those three can do but my question is, what can they get from the secondary lines? A guy like Jake DeBrusk, who has 14 goals and 4 assists on the year for 18 points, is having a down season so far. That being said it doesn’t mean he can’t change that because he is on pace to come close to his point total from last season. But what stands out to me is his +/- rating, which is at -5. DeBrusk is a young up and coming kid, sometimes it takes a year or two for things to come into place.
David Krejci has been a premier guy this season. When Bergeron went down, he stepped into the first line to soften the blow. Krejci was starting to gel with Marchand and Pastrnak when Bergeron came back, but he definitely bolstered the line when you thought it was going to be a colossal loss. He has 40 points so far and if he can continue on this pace it could be a very productive season for the veteran.
Matt Grzelcyk is a guy who flies under the radar but plays some great hockey. He’s a solid D-Man who plays a chippy game, with 50 of his 74 career PIMs coming this season with a bigger role. He’s also close to matching and surpassing his point total as well. He has the combination of being a stay at home defenseman but also brings a scoring touch.
It amazes me how much one player’s absence can shake up an entire team. For years Patrice Bergeron has been a monumental piece for this team. So when he went down earlier in the year, it was noticeable how the team reacted. As time went on, and with the help of David Krejci jumping in, they adjusted. Then in his first game back he recorded four points and all was well in Bruins land. Bergeron needs to continue on his pace this year and it will make the Bruins another nasty team to play come playoff time.
Only time will tell exactly what the Bruins will do as we get into the second half, but I am confident it will be some thrilling hockey down the stretch!
Make sure you read up on Chris Bradley’s second half prognosis for the Bruins on Monday.
Statistics provided by hockey-reference.com
Featured Photo Image Credit: Nikos Michals