When Boston Bruins second-line right wing David Pastrnak left a game on April 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets with an injury, it was not known how long he was going to be out of the lineup. As it turns out, the injury has forced Pastrnak to miss the last seven games. Since he left the lineup, Boston has struggled to win just two of seven games. Not only have the Black and Gold struggled to win games, but they have also struggled to put the puck in the net.
When you’re missing your leading scorer, the other stars on the team need to pick up the slack and that has just not been the case for the Bruins. Two of their scorers that they need to pick up the slack have struggled to light the lamp, something that coach Bruce Cassidy and their teammates need them to do more of sooner rather than later.
Marchand & Hall Have Been Lacking Production
The case could be made that Brad Marchand has been the most consistent goal scorer in the last seven seasons. He has been a 30-goal scorer in five of the last seven seasons, including this season, but when the Bruins need him the most in the last two weeks, he has not been able to produce. It’s not for a lack of trying either.
Marchand has fired 27 shots on the net in the seven games, but either he has been stopped by the opponent’s goalies or in the case of the game against the Washington Capitals on April 10 and the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 16, the opponents defenseman with the goalie out of position. His last goal was on April 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the TD Garden and since then, he has had two assists.
Marchand isn’t the only forward that the Bruins were hoping to get more production from with Pastrnak out as Taylor Hall is also in a scoring drought at the wrong time. On the second line with Erik Haula and a rotation of young right wings, the former hart Trophy winner with the New Jersey Devils has 20 shots on the net in his last seven games and scored his first goal Tuesday night in a 3-2 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues since March 31 in the Bruins’ 8-1 rout of the Devils.
During his production troubles in April, Hall does have three assists, but if the Bruins are going to make a run in the Stanley Cup playoffs, they need more production, mainly goals, from Hall. Cassidy has even had talks with Hall about the importance of him getting going offensively without Pastrnak on his right side.
“What we’ve talked about with Taylor is ‘Of course the line’s going to be better with David. Any line will. We’re stating the obvious. But you’re a good hockey player in this league, too. You have to drive the line for a while. Sometimes that’s just the way it works. And Erik Haula for that matter. They’ve played really good hockey, so just keep driving the line no matter who’s there. And he may have to change a bit. Taylor was acting more like a playmaker to Pasta. But when Pasta’s out, you’re going to have to change your mindset a little bit. You have to become a little more of a shooter at times. Take over a little bit of those duties. Don’t look for other players to all of a sudden be David Pastrnak.”Bruce Cassidy (from ‘Bruins Notebook: David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm could be available by weekend,’ Boston Herald, 4/19/22)
Like Marchand, his drought is not for a lack of effort either. His skating game has been as strong as it has been all season long, he is on the first power-play unit and taking turns being the net-front presence, but like Marchand, he has run into some non-puck-luck-around the net.
Bruins Not Getting Secondary Scoring at Trade Deadline Catching Up
It was rumored and widely thought that the Bruins were going to look to land some secondary scoring or even a second-line center at the trade deadline. Five hours before the 3 p.m. deadline on March 21, Boston announced that they agreed to a two-year contract extension with Jake DeBrusk, in hopes to make his trade value go up. It did not work out that way and they held onto the 14th overall pick in the 2015 Entry Draft.
Sweeney was rumored to be interested in Andrew Copp of the Winnipeg Jets and Rickard Rakell of the Anaheim Ducks. Either player would have been a good addition to a team looking for more secondary scoring, but Copp went to the New York Rangers, and Rakell went to the Penguins. Copp already has five goals and 10 assists for New York and Rakell has three goals and seven assists in Pittsburgh.
Since holding onto DeBrusk at the trade deadline, he has seven goals and 10 points on the top line. However, with the struggles of Marchand and Hall becoming more glaring without Pastrnak, the Bruins could have used another addition at the deadline from general manager (GM) Don Sweeney than just Hampus Lindholm on defense. Lindholm is a nice long-term addition, but not being able to stay healthy early in his Bruins career is not a promising sign.
Numbers Don’t Lie
In seven games since Pastrnak was knocked out of the lineup, the Bruins have just 16 goals, which is an average of two goals a game. It is easy to see why they have dropped five of their last eight as they can’t rely on their goaltending to bail them out night after night. In five of the eight games, the Black and Gold have just managed two goals, something that won’t get it done on a nightly basis in the NHL.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. 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.