Three ups and three downs: Boston Bruins edition
Five games into the 2015-16 season, the Boston Bruins have seen their fair share of ups and downs.
Although this is a small sample size, there has been plenty of good and plenty of bad thus far. After dropping their first three games of the season–all at home– the Bruins hit the road for a brief two-game road trip.
The trip introduced a new Bruins team as the Black and Gold swept the trip. The B’s will look for their third win in a row Wednesday night when they host the Philadelphia flyers on “rivalry night.”
Let’s take a look at some of the ups and downs of the Bruins season. We will start with three ups.
David Krejci leads the Bruins in goals (4) and points (9) through five games. (Photo credit: Joe Makarski/Bruins Daily)
In his 10th year as a Boston Bruin, Krejci is off to the best start of his National Hockey League career. With four goals, five assists and nine points in five games, Krejci is tied with Vladamir Tarasenko of the Blues, and Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings for the league lead in points. Leading the Bruins in goals and points respectively, Krejci has been the anchor to the Bruins’ offense. Krejci’s five power play points is tied with teammate Torey Krug for the league lead.
Finally at full strength, Krejci is showing the league how dangerous he truly can be. Centering Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak, the trio hasn’t shown too much chemistry quite yet, but it seems as if it’s only a matter of time before the line starts clicking.
With four goals in five games, Krejci is on pace to reach a career high in goals. Krejci’s highest tally mark came in 2011-12 where he lit the lamp 23 times.
Torey Krug continues to develop into a top-four defenseman for the Bruins as his offensive game has been huge for the Bruins. (Photo credit: Joe Makarski)
Just as hot to start the season as Krejci has been Bruins defenseman Torey Krug. With six assists on the year, Krug sits tied in third with Ottawa’s Matt Stone. Krug’s vision seems to be sharper this season and that certainly has shown with his assists. Three of his six assists have been primary assists.
As good as his offensive game has been, his defense has been equally as good. Despite the Bruins woes as a defensive unit, Krug has been one of thew few bright spots on the Bruins blue line. Through five games, it seems as if the former Michigan State Spartan is poised for a big season in all three phases of the game, a recipe for success for sure. With Dennis Seidenberg out of the lineup with an injury and captain Zdeno Chara just returning from an injury himself, Krug has taken a bigger role on a young Bruins blue line. Krug’s 23:08 of average time on ice per game ranks second among the team behind Chara (23:56).
With the help of Krejci and Krug, Patrice Bergeron has helped revive the Bruins power play. (Photo credit: Joe Makarski/Bruins Daily)
If you had to select one thing to hang your hat on after the Bruins 2-3 start to the season, the production from the B’s power play would be the unanimous choice. Converting on seven of 18 power play chances, a 38.9 success rate, the Black and Gold have the league’s best power play. Krejci, Krug and Bergeron all rank in the top three in power play points. Seven of Boston’s 18 goals have come with the man advantage.
Using their power play to their advantage on last week’s two-game road trip, the Bruins were able to build momentum off their power play tallies and ultimately walk away with their first two wins of the season. For the first time in a long time, the B’s are striking fear in their opponents every time they go a man up.
Now it’s time for the Bruins three downs
Bruins blue line:
The Bruins had hoped for more from Matt Irwin, but after two rough games to start the season Irwin was placed on waivers. (Photo credit: Joe Makarski)
Coming into the season, all eyes were on the blue line. Already without Seidenberg and without Chara for the team’s first two games, the Bruins’ young defense was facing a ton of pressure.
Right out of the gate things got ugly for the Bruins defense. After starting the season a minus-five through the Bruins first two games, Matt Irwin was placed on waivers. Despite the play of Krug, the Bruins D has been a mess. Too often they seem lost in their own zone, especially when opponents crash the net as we saw in Saturday’s victory over the Coyotes.
Turnovers have been a huge thorn in the Bruins side as well. Too often the Bruins are turning the puck over leading to quality scoring chances and in most cases, goals for the other team. The Black and Gold need to clean up their defense or things may get worse from here.
The Bruins need more from Tuukka Rask as their starting goalie and the team have struggled out of the gate. (Photo credit: Joe Makarski)
In most cases when your defense struggles, your goaltender will, too. That certainly has been the case for Tuukka Rask, but a lot of the blame has to be shouldered by the 2014 Vezina Trophy winner.
There’s been a handful of goals that a goalie of Rask’s caliber should have stopped, none more than in the Bruins 6-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Columbus Day.
“I didn’t make the saves when we needed. I’m pretty concerned how many goals I’m letting in, that’s my concern,” said Rask after the loss.
Sure Rask has been better since. Look to Saturday’s contest against the Coyotes. The Finnish goalie made multiple timely key saves which eventually led to the Bruins second win of the season. But the game was still not vintage Rask.
With the Bruins already behind the eight ball defensively, the Bruins need Rask to be on top of his game.
After signing a five-year deal with the Bruins this past summer, Matt Beleskey has struggled out of the gate. (Photo credit: Joe Makarski/Bruins Daily)
When the Bruins signed Matt Beleskey to a five-year $19 million deal, they were taking a bit of a risk.
Looking to replace the traded Milan Lucic, the Bruins looked to Beleskey to fill that void. Coming off a career year that saw Beleskey break 20 goals for the first time, GM Don Sweeney and company had high hopes for the 27-year old.
With just two points in five games, Beleskey hasn’t done much to earn his hefty contract. With just four shots on goal in five games, Beleskey ranks 13th on the team in shots. With Krejci on a hot streak to start the season, the time is now for the former Duck to build some chemistry with his centerman, it’s only going to benefit him.