Boston Bruins: 2021-22 Quarter Season Awards

The Boston Bruins have officially hit the 20-game mark in a week that was filled with news stories surrounding the team. There has been a lot to unpack for fans this past week and I definitely recommend giving Scott Roche’s Bruins Weekly a read.

Related: Bruins Weekly: Injuries, Cassidy, Providence & More

It may feel like it has taken a while, but the Bruins have finally reached the 20-game mark. The team is a quarter of the way through the 2021-22 NHL season and things have really begun to take shape. For the Bruins, they aren’t as high in the standings as they have been in the past few seasons and there are many more question marks with this team than in recent years. Below are my quarter-season awards.

MVP – Patrice Bergeron

The captain continues to set an incredible example for this team. Patrice Bergeron is a true bright spot on this team both on and off the ice. 

On the ice, he may have started a little slower than normal, but he has quickly made up for the first few games of the season. So far, he has 18 points in 20 games, including eight goals. He is also a plus-4. Somehow at age 36, he’s shooting more this season. His shooting percentage is currently at 12.7 percent, above his career-average 11. 

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He’s currently on pace for 77 points, which would be the second highest total of his career behind his 79 points in 2018-19. It is truly astonishing how much better Bergeron has gotten in the latter half of his career. He continues to step up whenever the team needs him the most. 

He’s also continuing to succeed in faceoff percentage, one of the hallmarks of his career. His winning percentage is currently at 63.03 percent, well above his career average of 57.5 percent. Last season, he finished with a win percentage of 62.25 percent, the highest finish for a season of his career. We’ll have to see if he beats that number this season. 

Related: Bruins Have Reasons for Optimism Despite Slow Start

Off the ice, Bergeron continues to be a well-respected role model. He’s one of the most respected players in the NHL for a reason and it is very easy to give him the MVP of the short season so far. 

Something to keep an eye on: Bergeron is 65 points away from hitting 1,000 career points. In order to reach it this season, he would have to finish with 83 points. He’s never hit over 80 points in his career, but it’ll definitely be close. 

Honorable Mentions: Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy

Biggest Comeback – Charlie Coyle

The departure of David Krejci left a gaping hole for the Bruins at center position. Someone was going to need to step up. 

Charlie Coyle, who’s been slotted in the third line for most of his Bruins career so far, was naturally the next man up. Expectations for him were high coming into the season, but there were also plenty of reasons to be skeptical. He was coming off of offseason knee surgery and the worst season of his career in 2020-21. He finished with only six goals and 16 points in 51 games.

Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins
Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

So far in 2021-22, Coyle has already matched his goal total from last season. In 20 games, he has six goals and 12 total points. The Bruins are always in desperate need of someone to step up and help the top line with scoring, and each season they seem to get some help from a different player. This season, he’s providing most of the help on offense.

Related: Bruins New Look Second line Making Impacts in Different Ways

After a rough season in 2020-21 and with all the expectations on his shoulders, Coyle is the really easy answer for who’s had the biggest comeback so far this season. 

Honorable Mention: Jakub Zboril

Best Moment – Colby Cave Night

On Nov. 11, the Bruins played the Edmonton Oilers for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the death of Colby Cave on April 11, 2020. To honor his memory, the team hosted Colby Cave night. Boston had been the first team he played for in the NHL while the Oilers were the last. 

It was an emotional night and a great way to honor a young man who was gone way too soon. The Bruins may have lost the game, but it doesn’t diminish the night as one of the best moments of the young season.

Best Win – Nov. 14 vs. Montreal Canadiens, 5-2

The Montreal Canadiens and Bruins rivalry is one of the best in the NHL. The history is long and the matchup is always an interesting one as the teams tend to bring out the best in each other. 

Due to the restructured divisions in 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bruins and Canadiens didn’t face each other. Prior to Nov. 14, they had gone over a year since playing each other and a lot had changed in that time. Predominantly was Montreal’s surprise Stanley Cup Final appearance last season and their rapid fall so far in 2021-22. 

Wins are extra sweet when they’re against a rival, but they’re also great when contributions come from throughout the lineup. In their win against the Canadiens, the Bruins had two goals each from Coyle and McAvoy and a goal from Taylor Hall. They had assists from Zboril, Oskar Steen, Marchand, Hall, DeBrusk, Carlo, and Pastrnak. If the team had more wins with contributions from outside the top line, I think confidence would be much higher in the team than where it currently is.

Worst Loss – Nov. 6 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-2

Prior to Nov. 6, the Bruins had gone almost two years since playing their other rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Where things went great against Montreal, they didn’t go so great against the other Canadian team. 

While the game started well and the Bruins played an excellent first period, things quickly went downhill. They couldn’t shut down the Maple Leafs’ top talent, allowing two goals to Auston Matthews, two goals to John Tavares, and a goal to Mitch Marner. 

Ultimately, the most disappointing part of the game was how outplayed the Bruins looked. By the third period, there was no fire in the team. It was reminiscent of how they looked towards the end of their playoff series against the New York Islanders last season where they just looked like they ran out of steam. 

Honorable mention goes to the Bruins’ 4-0 Loss to the Calgary Flames. That was also a pretty awful game to watch.

Player to Keep an Eye On – Matt Grzelcyk

Defenseman Matt Grzelcyk has had a very quiet start to the 2021-22 season. He’s only at three assists in the first 20 games and is a minus-5. After scoring 20 points in 37 games last season and finishing a plus-11, expectations were certainly higher for him, especially if he could remain healthy. 

Matt Grzelcyk, Boston Bruins
Matt Grzelcyk, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Thankfully, Grzelcyk has been healthy so far this season. Now he just needs to get his game going a little more. Of course, he isn’t the only player who needs to improve as the season progresses, but he is definitely one to keep an eye on. As we saw in the second half of last season when he was paired with McAvoy, when he gets going, he can really make great things happen.

Looking Ahead for the Bruins

The season is not going to get easier for the Bruins. As a whole, the first quarter of the season has been a bit of an inconsistent slog. While they haven’t had any big losing streaks, they haven’t strung together an impressive run of wins either. 

Right now, the Bruins are very middle of the road. They need a spark or someone to step up and elevate them to the next level. Hopefully, general manager Don Sweeney can address issues on defense with a DeBrusk trade and the open spot at forward could pave the way for someone new to make an impact.

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