The start of a new year offers a clean slate for people around the globe. The same can be said when it comes to NHL players and when looking at the Boston Bruins, in particular, they have many players who could use one. As we inch closer to 2022, there are five Bruins players who absolutely will be looking to bounce back. So far, there have been many members of the team who haven’t necessarily been playing up to their highest standard. This is a big reason for the team’s underwhelming 14-10-2 record. Yet, now is the perfect time for things to change.
Foligno hasn’t had the best of starts with the Bruins this season. When they signed him to his two-year, $7.6 million contract this summer, they expected him to be a significant upgrade to their third line. This was a true necessity, as last year’s trio did not mesh well in the slightest. Yet, over his first 18 contests with the team, he has just four assists and a notable minus-8 rating.
There is reason to believe that Foligno can find his scoring touch as the season continues. He is currently snake bitten, as he hasn’t recorded a single point in eight straight contests. However, when seeing as how he just put together a 20-point campaign in 49 games last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs, this could just be a temporary bump in the road. It’s time for the 34-year-old to find his old form from here.
Out of the five on this list, it’s apparent that Hall has had the most success of the bunch. In 26 games so far, he has five goals and 14 points. He is tied with Charlie Coyle for fifth on the team in points. Yet, when seeing as how he is averaging just over a point every two games, it does feel a bit too low for a player of his skill level. The departure of David Krejci is a factor behind this, but it would still be great for the 30-year-old winger to contribute more from here.
When the Bruins acquired Hall from the Buffalo Sabres last season, he was an immediate fit. In 16 games, he had eight goals to go along with 14 total points. Thus, he reached his current production in 10 fewer contests, so it is fair to state that he is capable of doing more. After this prolonged break, perhaps we will see him be more of a difference-maker again from here.
Like Hall, Reilly was perfect for the Bruins as soon as they acquired him at last season’s trade deadline. In 15 games after the trade with the Ottawa Senators, he recorded eight helpers. Due to this, they signed the 28-year-old defenseman to a three-year, $9 million contract during the offseason. Yet, at this juncture, it hasn’t been going as smoothly as both sides had hoped.
The most notable indicator of this is that Reilly has been scratched on numerous occasions due to inconsistent play. With Jakub Zboril done for the season, they need the Chicago native to step up well as he did during the previous campaign. In his last game against the New York Islanders, he scored a goal, so perhaps this is a sign of what’s to come from here.
Haula is another offseason signing who hasn’t been off to an ideal start with the Bruins. In 25 games this season, he has just a goal and five points. With that, he also is carrying a minus-4 rating, so truthfully, it’s acceptable to state that he’s been underwhelming. This is especially made apparent by the fact that he also has been healthy scratched, too. Yet, the season is still young enough that he has plenty of time to rebound.
This break may benefit Haula, as he has gone the last five games without recording a single point. The Bruins desperately need the 30-year-old to produce more offensively in the bottom six, as he was brought in with the idea of being the team’s third-line center. However, we have seen him move around the lineup fairly regularly due to his struggles. This is a player who just had 24 points in 48 games during the 2019-20 season, so in theory, he should be able to bounce back.
Grzelcyk had the best season of his career last season, as he scored five goals and recorded 20 points in just 37 games. With that, he started playing on the top pair with Charlie McAvoy and received more looks on the power play with the departure of Torey Krug. Yet, it’s fair to say that he’s cooled off rather noticeably this campaign, as he only has a goal and six points in 26 games. He also is on pace to be a minus player for the first time in his career.
The left side of the Bruins’ defense has become known for being notoriously weak at this point, so they need players like Grzelcyk to play to their highest potential. Before the holiday break, the 27-year-old did show signs of last season’s play, as he recorded three assists in his final seven contests. If this can become the norm for him, he certainly can salvage his cold start to the season.
Alas, here’s to hoping that these five can play up to their previous levels in 2022. The Bruins need all the help they can get, as they certainly aren’t locks for the postseason. Yet, that can all change if the entire team plays as well as fans know they truly can. It will be fun to see what ends up transpiring.
Explore everything hockey with THW’s Hockeypedia pages.
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.