Boston currently leads the NHL with 83 points.
As All-Star weekend wraps up and the bye week begins, the Boston Bruins sit comfortably atop the league standings during their well-deserved break.
With the home stretch on the horizon, let’s take a moment to assess the performances across the lineup to date, beginning with Boston’s forward group. Check back later for Part 2 for an assessment of Boston’s defensemen and goaltenders.
David Pastrnak: (51 GP, 38 G, 34 A, 72 P)
Get the Czechbook out.
Through the first 51 games, David Pastrnak has shattered the lofty expectations upon his reunion with David Krejci. With a big payday approaching, the Czech winger continues to increase his worth.
Pastrnak is on pace to become just the second Bruin in franchise history to reach the 60-goal mark. His 116 points projection would also mark the highest total since Adam Oates’ 142-point campaign in 1992-93.
Patrice Bergeron (51 GP, 18-20-38)
The captain won’t slow down.
Patrice Bergeron has put together yet another vintage campaign. Playing for pennies on the dollar, Bergeron remains on pace for yet another 30-goal, 60-point season with all the defensive numbers to boot.
The only major question: why would Bergeron want to retire after another Selke-like campaign?
Brad Marchand: (43 GP, 16-30-46)
Brad Marchand continues to find his comfort zone after an earlier-than-anticipated return in late October following his off-season double hip surgery. Since the three-game trip in California, the 34-year-old winger has looked more like his usual self.
Even at 75 percent, Marchand still produced at a point-per-game pace, but his goal production has hit a snag of late. Marchand has undoubtedly come a long way since his season debut on Oct. 27, but he still senses that he can perform at a higher level.
Jake DeBrusk: (36 GP, 16-14-30)
At this point last year, Jake DeBrusk didn’t even know if he’d have a future in Boston. But, even during his trade request, former coach Bruce Cassidy saw enough improvement to move DeBrusk back to his off-wing next to Marchand and Bergeron. The 2015 first-round selection hasn’t looked back since.
Of all the solid moves Don Sweeney has made in recent years, keeping DeBrusk sits near the top of the list. It’s hard to believe that last February, a realistic return for DeBrusk featured a bottom-six player like Mason Appleton.
Despite missing the last month with the hand and foot injuries he sustained during his Winter Classic heroics, DeBrusk remains on pace to set career highs in goals and points.
Pavel Zacha (51 GP, 11-24-35)
In the last month, if not earlier, the Bruins emerged as the clear winners of the summer swap involving Pavel Zacha and Erik Haula. The former New Jersey Devil showcased his impressive scoring touch since inking a four-year $18 million contract extension on Jan. 21, notching six goals over his last nine games.
Zacha’s versatility provides the Bruins with an essential cog for their Stanley Cup hopes. He’ll also benefit the club in the long run upon his likely move from wing to center on Boston’s first or second line during the post-Bergeron/Krejci era.
David Krejci (46 GP, 12-30-42)
It’s hard to imagine where the Bruins would be without David Krejci’s return.
Very little distinguishes the 2021-22 Bruins roster from their 2022-23 lineup except for Krejci, who skated in his 1,000th career NHL game on Jan. 16.
Several Bruins find themselves embarking on career seasons. Still, Krejci’s return gave the Bruins a significant luxury en route to their historic 51-game run.
Speaking of new heights, will the Causeway faithful witness another season of ‘playoff Krejci’?
Charlie Coyle (51 GP, 11-17-28)
Now in his fourth full season in Boston, Charlie Coyle is in a perfect spot as Boston’s third-line centerman. Over time, he’s molded himself into a reliable 200-foot player.
Since the Bruins’ return to full health, Coyle’s poise and well-rounded skillset have meshed well with two wingers with opposite skillsets flanking him at wing in Taylor Hall and Trent Frederic. The trio has formed an effective third line to round out the top half of the bottom six.
Nick Foligno (51 GP, 7-13-20)
After a disappointing first year in Boston, a healthy Nick Foligno has finally met the initial expectations. Even though Foligno struggled to produce in the last month, tallying just a goal and an assist over his previous 12 games, the former Blue Jackets winger provides a savvy leadership presence in Boston’s veteran-heavy locker room.
With Bo Horvat off the board, the Bruins’ main trade deadline target(s) should resemble Foligno’s archetype: multi-positional, character adds who fill any hole on an already deep lineup.
Taylor Hall (51 GP, 15-17-32)
The 2018 league MVP has graciously accepted a third-line role alongside Coyle and Trent Frederic. While Taylor Hall hopes to provide more consistency in the scoring department during the home stretch, he remains an asset in Boston’s lineup thanks to a continually improving two-way skillset.
A second-half scoring uptick for Hall will provide significant benefits to the league’s top-scoring club. Since arriving in Boston during the 2021 trade deadline, Hall has enjoyed team success unlike any time prior in his career. It seems like the 31-year-old and 2010 top overall pick will do whatever it takes to hoist his first Cup.
Trent Frederic (48 GP, 10-9-19)
Like many of his teammates, Trent Frederic continues to thrive in Jim Montgomery’s system. The 2016 first-round pick took a big step to develop NHL-level footspeed and even added a keen one-timer ability to his improving arsenal.
At this rate, Frederic, a pending restricted free agent, is on pace to earn a nice raise this summer.
Tomas Nosek (42 GP, 3-5-8)
Boston’s fourth-line center recently hit the injured reserve list after dealing with nagging injuries over the last few weeks. When healthy, the veteran provides solid depth down the middle.
Even with a limited offensive toolset, Tomas Nosek remains a key element of this Bruins lineup. As the only left-handed center in the Bruins lineup, Nosek takes many defensive zone faceoffs on his strong side.
Despite Nosek’s importance, Sweeney and the front office should pursue another left-handed, multi-position centerman to serve as a safety valve in case their fourth-line center encounters another injury.
A.J. Greer (36 GP, 5-4-9)
A.J. Greer made the most of his first year in Boston. The sixth-year pro continues to make the most of his opportunities after securing his bottom-six role at training camp.
Greer’s early season goal-scoring prowess has dried up, but the rugged winger still provides a physical and energetic element to Boston’s fourth line.
Although Greer could be the odd man out if the Bruins add a depth forward at the deadline, there’s no doubt he’ll continue to provide a spark to the lineup whenever he’s called upon.
Craig Smith (37 GP, 3-6-9)
Craig Smith’s days in Boston are likely decreasing by the minute. Following a disappointing 2022 playoff performance, the veteran winger has rarely provided any reasons to remain in Boston’s lineup. Recent injuries to DeBrusk and Nosek allowed Smith to remain in the lineup, and even skate alongside Marchand and Bergeron, where he’s provided slightly better production.
Smith will likely become the odd man out once DeBrusk returns to the lineup, perhaps as early as Saturday afternoon in Boston’s first game back from its 10-day layoff. And his $3.1 million cap hit will provide another challenge for Sweeney as he looks to add more depth to his club before the March 3 trade deadline.
Incompletes: Joona Koppanen, Jakub Lauko, Marc McLaughlin and Chris Wagner.
Sign up for Bruins updates🏒
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during hockey season.
Add a Comment