Recently, we discussed a handful of players on the Boston Bruins who have been off to slow starts this season. There were plenty of choices available for that topic, as depth scoring is once again a major issue for the Bruins. Yet, now it feels right to shine a light on some of the team’s hottest players so far in this campaign.
When it comes to the players having the best starts for the Bruins, it’s ultimately who fans would automatically expect. The core players have been nothing short of excellent and as a result of this, Boston has continued to remain quite competitive. This remains true even though a lot of their other players have struggled mightily for long stretches of time.
As the season continues to pass, it will be interesting to see how many of these players continue to be this consistent. For now, though, it’s clear they deserve a lot of praise for their contributions so far.
Brad Marchand is continuing to be the Bruins’ most important forward. After recording 69 points in 53 games last season, the 33-year-old winger is not slowing down at all this campaign. In 16 games, he has eight goals and an impressive 21 points. With that, he’s currently 11th in the league in scoring, so yes, it’s absolutely justifiable to state that he’s been off to a hot start.
What’s also so impressive about Marchand’s excellent play is that he’s only been held off the scoresheet in three games all season. Therefore, along with his dominance, he’s been immensely consistent. When seeing how a lot of the forward depth has not been contributing well, his production is a major reason why the Bruins still sport a 10-6-0 record. It would be a lot worse if the star winger was not in the lineup.
As the season progresses, however, the Bruins will obviously need more production from the rest of the lineup to stay afloat. It’s inevitable that Marchand and the rest of the first line will have moments where they aren’t at their bests. However, as inch closer to 20 games into the regular season, that has yet to happen with Marchand and it’s fantastic to see.
Right before their season opener, the Bruins signed defenseman Charlie McAvoy to an eight-year, $76 million extension. This contract is certainly a massive one, as it’s the richest deal in Boston’s entire history. With his cap hit jumping to $9.5 million next season, the 23-year-old defenseman will have even greater expectations moving forward.
When observing how McAvoy is playing this season thus far, it’s safe to say that he’s taking his game to an even greater level. In 16 games, he has three goals and 13 points. With that, he’s stayed defensively sound, as he currently sports a plus-5 rating. However, the increase in his rate of production is an extremely good sign that he’s improving as a player. If he continues at this rate, he could even find himself in Norris Trophy discussions at season’s end.
Although McAvoy did not take a hometown discount like many of Boston’s core players, he is worth every single penny. His excellent start this campaign displays that and this is only the beginning of his prime years. The best may not even be here yet with the young defenseman and that’s exciting.
At this juncture, David Pastrnak is not on pace for 48 goals and 95 points like he had during the 2019-20 season. However, even with this, he has still been one of the Bruins’ most consistent players and best overall offensive threats. In 16 games, he has six goals and recorded 17 points. Once again, he is a point-per-game player, so he certainly warrants a spot on this list.
Yet, as of late, he’s been on one of the best stretches we’ve seen from a Boston player all season. Prior to Friday’s matchup against the New York Rangers, he has four goals and eight assists in his last eight games. With that, he only failed to record a point when the Bruins were shutout by the Calgary Flames. That was a poor effort from the entire roster after they had just played a game against the Philadelphia Flyers the previous night. Perhaps fatigue was a factor.
This kind of hot streak should make one question if Pastrnak is in for an even greater set of games from here, though. His confidence seems to be quite high after a bit of a rough patch during the very beginning of the season. The one criticism the star keeps getting is that he isn’t shooting the puck enough. The 25-year-old really should more often, as he does have a Rocket Richard Trophy on his resume.
To conclude this list, it feels fair to briefly discuss a few more players.
Even at 36 years old, captain Patrice Bergeron is continuing to be a strong force offensively. In 17 games thus far, he has scored eight goals and 16 points. The primary reason I elected to go with the three above, however, is due to the fact that he’s had a few cold moments. For example, he started the season with only three assists in his first seven games. Yet, he followed that up with an impressive 10 points in his five next games. Following that offensive explosion, he was held off the scoresheet for three straight games. He could be in for another hot streak, though, as he just had a goal and an assist against the Buffalo Sabres.
There were questions heading into the season about Charlie Coyle taking over the second-line center position. The 29-year-old center only registered 16 points in 51 games last season. However, at least for now, he’s handled the role well and is having a bounce-back campaign. In 16 games, he already has six goals and 11 points. Time will tell if the Bruins will elect to pursue an upgrade down the middle for the top-six, but Coyle deserves praise for his offensive contributions regardless.
Jakub Zboril has been playing well since being reinserted into the lineup. During the beginning of the season, he was a depth defenseman and only played one game in October. Yet, due to players like Mike Reilly and Connor Clifton getting scratched, he has suited up in five straight games. In them, he had three assists and a plus-4 rating. He’s making a case for himself to be a permanent member of the Bruins’ top-six defensive group because of this.
Lastly, Derek Forbort may not be playing perfectly, but he already has doubled his career-high in goals with four in just 16 games. That’s pretty cool to see from the 29-year-old defensive defenseman.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, & Detroit Red Wings for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHL Trade Rumors.