The Bruins Pick Up Ground & Gain Momentum on Road Trip
The Boston Bruins return home from a successful west coast road trip, going 5-1-0 against the Pacific Division. The Bruins started trailing the Washington Capitals by three points in the Wild Card race. They now have a three-point advantage over the Capitals. Boston also trailed the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs by six points and now are just one win away from tying the Leafs.
The trip through the Pacific Standard Time zone was a remarkable success based, not only on won-lost record but on the distribution of points up and down the lineup. The Bruins had 26 goals for and 13 goals against during the six-game trip. Suitable for a 4.33 GF average and a 0.461GAA in that stretch. A huge factor was the continuing development of rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman. The 6′-3″ University of Maine product went 4-0, carrying a .929 SV % and 1.68 GAA. Swayman’s totals throughout the 2021-22 season (15-7-0-3, 2.03 GAA, .927 SV%, & 3 shutouts) are near the top for all NHL goalies with a minimum of 25 games played.
Another significant development along the way has been the long-awaited emergence of Jake DeBrusk. The former #15 overall pick is finally playing at a consistent level of play. DeBrusk went 6-2-8 during the road trip. He has eight goals in his last eight games after notching just seven in his first 43 games. The move to the first line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand has helped DeBrusk’s output. Since his trade request went public on December 1, 2021, the Edmonton, Alberta native has 18 points in 33 games.
The Bruins’ big guns came through in their usual fashion. Bergeron had three goals and two assists, while Marchand scored twice with five helpers. David Pastrnak had a 4-4-8 stat line, his linemates Taylor Hall (1-3-4) and Erik Haula (3-5-8) factored into the scoring enormously as well. The production from the bottom six forwards evenly distributed between the third and fourth lines will need to continue with their brand of physical hockey for the team to be successful as the season nears its conclusion.
Craig Smith had four goals and four assists. Charlie Coyle followed with three assists, and Trent Frederic picked up three of his own for the third-liners. Both Coyle and Frederic could use a few more goals under their belt to further the team’s aims. Coyle is playing his strong on the puck brand of hockey, which should translate to more from him. Frederic seems, like DeBrusk, to be finally shaping up into the type of player the Bruins envisioned; physical, versatile, and able to net some greasy goals. Due to injury, the 6′-3″ winger/center has been in and out of the lineup all season. Finally healthy, the former Wisconsin Badger is an excellent fit with Coyle and Smith. This trio has always been brutal for opposing teams to play with when together.
The fourth line of Tomas Nosek, Nick Foligno, and Curtis Lazar picked up four points on the road trip. It was good to see Foligno earn a goal and an assist in the 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the lone setback during the trip. The trio doesn’t get looked to for offensive production, so any little bit helps. They’ll muck and grind, wear down the opponents, and contribute to the penalty kills.
When the Boston defense is involved in the scoring, then the team excels. On the west coast, the d-corps picked up a goal and eleven assists along the way. Charlie McAvoy led the way with five assists. Matt Grzelcyk had two assists, while Brandon Carlo had the lone goal and notched a pair of helpers. Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton each picked up assists as well.
PuckingOff Three Stars
The Week Ahead
Monday, March 7 vs. Los Angeles Kings, 7:00 pm @ TD Garden
Thursday, March 10 vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 7:00 pm @ TD Garden
Saturday, March 12 vs. Arizona Coyotes, 7:00 pm @ TD Garden