In this week’s edition of Bruins Weekly, Boston gets a much-needed 5-on-5 goal-scoring outburst at Lake Tahoe, two more key players are added to a growing injury list, rookies enter the lineup and provide key minutes along with production, and more.
Bruins Get Much-Needed 5-on-5 Goal Scoring Outburst
Despite their start to the season that has them on top of the MassMutual East Division standings, even-strength scoring has been an issue for Boston. Coach Bruce Cassidy tried to mix things up against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 18 by moving David Pastrnak to the second line and sliding Jake DeBrusk up to the first line. The move failed to produce any results at 5-on-5 as the Bruins scored both of their goals in a 3-2 loss on the power play. Going into their outdoor game at Lake Tahoe, NV against the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday night, the Bruins had a minus-one goal differential through their first 15 games 5-on-5.
Against the Flyers, Cassidy moved Pastrnak back to the first-line and it paid off as the Bruins exploded for six 5-on-5 goals in a 7-3 victory. Pastrnak set the tone early on his way to his second hat trick this season against Philadelphia in three games. He scored his first goal 34 seconds into the game and his second 46 seconds into the second period. He became the sixth Bruins player to score in the first minute in multiple periods in a game. He completed his hat trick by scoring the final goal of the game with three minutes left in the final period.
The Bruins got even-strength goals from Charlie Coyle, Charlie McAvoy, and rookie Trent Frederic, which was his first career goal, while Nick Ritchie scored on the power play in the second period. By the end of the game, Boston left Nevada with a plus-three 5-on-5 goal differential, something they look to build this week.
Krejci and Lauzon Join the List of Injuries
Coming into the season, one of the deepest position groupings for the Bruins was at center. While injuries have piled up on their defense and with their wings, the centers have stayed healthy through the first 14 games. That all changed Thursday night against the Devils. Second-line center David Kjeci suffered a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return after just over six minutes of ice-time.
Krejci did not make the trip to Lake Tahoe and according to Cassidy, he’s day-to-day. Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril, and Ondrej Kase are all still sidelined with injuries. Kevan Miller also did not make the trip out West as he missed the game for load management. After missing the last year and a half with a knee injury that required a lengthy rehabilitation, Miller had played the previous 14 games and will have a week off of rest in between games.
Against the Flyers, defensemen Jeremy Lauzon left after just 36 seconds with an upper-body injury. With Lauzon also sidelined, that means half of the defensive group that started the season is now out injured. The hits just keep on coming.
Rookies Join the Lineup at Lake Tahoe
With the growing number of injuries at forward and on defense, the Bruins called up a pair of their top prospects from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League for the trip to Lake Tahoe. Jack Studnicka, who made the roster out of training camp and played in six games before suffering an injury and sent to Providence, centered the third line with DeBrusk and Anders Bjork against the Flyers. He picked up an assist on Pastrnak’s third goal.
With the Bruins missing Grzelcyk, Zboril, and Miller, rookie blueliner Urho Vaakanainen made his season debut. He had an assist in the game for his first career point and his playing time increased with the injury to Lauzon early in the game. He was second on the team in time-on-ice at 23:38 and skated a team-high 32 shifts. He was also a key part of the penalty-killing unit.
McAvoy and Bergeron Reach Milestones
Several Bruins entered the shortened 56-game season with milestones within reach. Against the Flyers, McAvoy played his 200th regular-season game with the Black and Gold. Early in the same game, Bergeron reached a milestone when he tied former Bruins legend, Bobby Orr, with 888 career points for fifth on the franchise list when he assisted on Pastrnak’s first goal. Bergeron is 10 points behind Rick Middleton for third on the list.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: at New York Islanders, 7 P.M.
- Friday: at New York Rangers, 7 P.M.
- Sunday: at New York Rangers, 12:00 P.M.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.