3 Bruins Hoping to Repeat Last Season’s Success

For about the first two months of the 2022-23 season, the Boston Bruins are going to be minus their top left wing and two of their top-four defensemen who are recovering from off-season surgeries. It’s a big hole and keeping their head above water in the standings until they can be healthy could be a tall order.

If first-year coach Jim Montgomery and the Black and Gold are going to keep their head above the water, they are going to need some players to have a repeat performance of their 2021-22 seasons. Easier said than done, but here are three Bruins who will be looking to repeat their performances from last season.

Jake DeBrusk

It was not the first half of the 2021-22 season that Jake DeBrusk and the Bruins were hoping he would have in what was deemed a bounce-back season for the 25-year-old. In late February he was struggling to stay in the lineup in the bottom-six when former coach Bruce Cassidy moved him up to the first line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and that change turned his season around.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins
Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

After being promoted on Feb. 24, the 14th overall pick in the 2015 Entry Draft had 16 goals and nine assists playing on his new line. It was just not his production, but it was his overall game that improved. He was skating better, he was relentless on the forecheck, winning board battles, getting to the front of the net, and even becoming a better defensive forward. He finished the season with 25 goals and 17 assists, which was a far cry from his production and play over the last year and a half.

Related: Bruins Need DeBrusk to Be an Impact Player in 2022-23

DeBrusk scored a career-high 27 goals in 2018-19, then was one goal away from a second consecutive 20-goal season in the 2019-20 season when the season was paused in March of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Scoring and being a top-six player is well within DeBrusk’s capabilities and asking him to repeat last season’s performance is not a tough ask.

Brandon Carlo

This season is going to be a big one, especially in the first two months with Charlie McAvoy recovering from surgery, for Brandon Carlo. He will be getting top-pairing minutes with Hampus Lindholm and will see a jump in his time on ice from his 19:42 a night last season. 

Brandon Carlo, Boston Bruins
Brandon Carlo, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Carlo tied his career-high in goals with six, along with nine assists in 2021-22 with a career-high 125 shots on the net, but it is more than offensive production that the Bruins hope he is able to repeat from a year ago. One of the top penalty killers with Derek Forbort, Carlo dished out a career-high 143 hits and blocked 104 shots. His long reach at 6-foot-5 can be frustrating for opponents and that will once again be key this season.

As has been the case with Carlo in his first six seasons wearing the Black and Gold, any offensive production you get is an added bonus, but his play in the defensive end is what the Bruins hope he can repeat. Clearing out the front of the net, blocking shots, and frustrating opponents while playing over 20 minutes a night will be welcomed for Montgomery.

Pavel Zacha

In a July trade, Sweeney acquired Pavel Zacha from the New Jersey Devils for Erik Haula, who was the unsung hero for the Bruins last season. Zacha, who has struggled at times in his career, has been someone the Bruins have been interested in for a few years and they are hoping he can step in and fill a big void in the top-six this season until Marchand returns.

Pavel Zacha New Jersey Devils
New Bruins forward Pavel Zacha with the New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Last season with the Devils, Zacha had 15 goals and 21 assists for a career-high 36 points in 70 games, one year after scoring a career-high 17 goals in the 56-game shortened 2020-21 season. This season, Zacha will have a chance to repeat those numbers and then some with the potential lineup he could be in. Montgomery hinted at Zacha beginning the season with Bergeron and DeBrusk on the first line, then when Marchand comes back, Zacha could find himself with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith on the third line. 

Selected sixth overall in the 2015 Draft, Zacha has an opportunity, whether it’s with Bergeron or David Krejci in the top six, to begin the season and get some confidence with a new team. Matching his output of last season with New Jersey can be done this season for Zacha and it would be a welcomed addition considering they got just eight goals from Trent Frederic a season ago on the third line.

Any production from anyone will be welcomed by the Bruins early in the season without Marchand, McAvoy, and Grzelcyk missing time. Repeating their numbers from a season ago, DeBrusk, Carlo, and Zacha are well within reach, with Carlo being more of a defensive end repeat performance. 

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