After getting off to a hot start (5-2-0), the Bruins fell back to the pack in the second half of October. Including the first two games of November, the Bruins have gone just 3-3-1 over their last seven games. In the losses, the Bruins have played down to the level of some weaker opponents, giving away valuable points in the process. A 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils gave a good snapshot of the month of October for the Bruins. Boston jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, and then allowed the Devils to score three unanswered goals, resulting in a regulation loss. Here’s a look at who has been up and who has been down over the last seven games for the Bruins.
Last spring, the Bruins power play got a major boost when they added Torey Krug to their top unit. This season, he became a feature on the power play right out of the gates. He tallied three points in the first seven games, two of which came on the man advantage. For a defenseman with rookie eligibility remaining, three points over seven games is an impressive start. Over the next seven games, he would only get better. Notching four goals and an assist, three out of the five points coming on the power play, Krug has been one of the cogs that makes the Bruins power play go. If Krug can continue to produce at these levels, the Bruins power play will be infinitely better than we’ve seen in the last few seasons.
After going scoreless over the first seven games, Jarome Iginla has come on strong over the last seven games. In the Bruins 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, Iginla matched his season total for assists with two helpers. That jump started the offensive output for Iginla, as he would go on to score a goal in each of the next three games. In addition to averaging a point per game over the last seven (three goals, four assists), Iginla scored the winning goal in the Bruins shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks, showing off his incredible wrist shot. With Milan Lucic and David Krejci playing so well thus far, Iginla’s outbreak has made this line unstoppable at times, as they have carried the Bruins offense for stretches.
The Bruins first round pick in 2011 put up an impressive rookie campaign last year and was viewed as a critical piece of the Bruins defensive corps coming into this season. As part of the Bruins trio of young defensemen (along with Krug and Matt Bartkowski), Hamilton was a spectator in two of the Bruins first seven games. In the five games he played, he put up just one point, a power play goal against Tim Thomas and the Panthers. Over the last seven games, he’s experienced an offensive outburst, totaling two goals and two assists, only one of which came on the man advantage. Although his power play production isn’t lighting up the stat sheet, his ability to move the puck along the blue line has allowed him to consistently generate chances. The Bruins have been looking for a puck moving defenseman for many years now, and in Krug and Hamilton, they have just that.
What a difference two weeks can make. Early in the season, it looked like Jordan Caron had turned the corner. Finally taking the next step and seizing a roster spot in the NHL. Two weeks later, Jordan Caron has been passed over by multiple players and has been relegated to the bench. When Carl Soderberg returned from injury, Caron became the 13th forward. One game later, Loui Eriksson was injured and another opportunity was presented to Caron. Caron did nothing to take advantage of that chance, and the Bruins called up Ryan Spooner to fill in for Eriksson. When Eriksson was ready to return, Spooner was returned to Providence and Caron remained in the press box. In total, Caron only saw the ice in three of the last seven games for the Bruins, failing to record any points. Jordan Caron will remain the 13th forward for the Bruins, but his opportunities will be few and far between, and if he doesn’t capitalize soon, the door may shut on his Bruins career.
Unfortunately, the last seven games haven’t gone any better than the first seven games for Brad Marchand. One of the Bruins top offensive weapons over the last few seasons, Marchand has only four points through 14 games, and only two assists over the last seven. Despite the lack of production, Marchand’s play has improved recently, resulting in his return to the second line. Marchand still appears to be overthinking things and holding onto the puck for too long, making it hard for his offensive to get going. With Loui Eriksson returning to the lineup, the hope is that Marchand will be able to build chemistry with his new linemates, and in the process, start putting the puck in the net. In the meantime, the Bruins will look to their secondary scoring threats to step up and carry the offense.
The Penalty Kill
This issue can’t be contributed to one player’s struggles, but it is a major cause for concern going forward. In the last few years, the Bruins penalty kill has been one of their biggest strengths, and has been even more important in balancing out their lackluster power play. This season, the power play has shown signs of promise, and with that step forward, the penalty kill seems to have regressed. Through the first seven games of the season, the Bruins were ranked second in the league with an 87.5% success rate on the penalty kill. Now, seven games later, their season total has dropped to 80% and left them in the bottom third of the league. The PK unit hit rock bottom in last Saturday’s loss to the Devils, as they surrendered four goals on six chances, including two in the last five minutes of the game. To some degree, this signals a lack of discipline from the team, an issue that should be easy to correct. On the other hand, if the Bruins continue to struggle on the penalty kill, this slide in the standings could go on for a long time.
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