So far in this young season, the Bruins have seen an offensive spark from unfamiliar faces. Frank Vatrano, who just netted his first career hat track at 21 years young, Landon Ferraro, and Ryan Spooner have all had a large role in the revival of the Bruins’ offense on an off the man advantage.
But it’s names like Matt Beleskey that haven’t made much noise.
The former Anaheim Duck is struggling to put the puck in the back of the net. The on-and-off-again first line winger has no issue with brawn, though. In the 31 games played, Beleskey has already posted 108 hits, good for best on the team.
When general manager Don Sweeney signed the forward to a five-year contract worth $19 million in the offseason, the decision was made to better the Bruins offensively. Beleskey was fresh off his best season as an NHLer (22-10- 32), and played a pivotal role with the Ducks in their deep playoff run from last year.
Beleskey Searching for a Spark
With the Bruins, it’s been a different story. Beleskey has yet to find a similar offensive spark to that of his teammates in Boston. With only two 2 point games on the season, the left winger’s inconsistencies as a power forward are becoming more and more evident.
Beleskey’s ability to be a physical force on the ice has been advantageous for the Bruins in itself. The power forward is helping his line mates create chances with space on the ice by displaying his physicality against his opponents. Derek Stepan knows a thing or two about that.
Yet Beleskey’s struggles in the scoring department have been troublesome. His current goal drought of four games is no match for his 13 game scoreless streak earlier in the season. It’s an issue Milan Lucic faced when in Boston. Beleskey, on the contrary, has his presence felt on the ice night in a night out, unlike the former Bruin.
While his marginal four goals yield red flags, Beleskey’s play with and without the puck is improving. Ranked fifth on the team in shots (65), Beleskey is getting his chances. Because of his active shooting and physicality, coach Claude Julien is trusting him more. Beleskey ranks fifth amongst forwards in average time on ice at 16:03. He’s a plus-5 forward who continues to prove he is no defensive liability, which Julien admires.
The monkey on Beleskey’s back in Boston has yet to be fully removed. Finally scoring after 13 games without a goal, the monkey still remained intact, as since then, the forward endured a four game goalless streak and is in the midst of another. While with the Ducks, Beleskey never went more than five games without a goal.
Brad Marchand’s notorious goalless streaks in seasons past were vindicated with consistent scoring. Beleskey has seemingly gone through streak after streak with no consistent scoring. The Bruins know Beleskey can score and know what he is capable of doing with the puck on his stick. He simply hasn’t proven that in a Bruins uniform yet.
While Beleskey has plateaued in the scoring department, his line mantes continue to succeed and the Bruins continue to win games. Eventually, the monkey will fall off Beleskey’s back for good. The only question is when.