It was a busy last seven days for the Boston Bruins with five games on the road and despite it starting off on a down note, it finished as well as it could have. Yes, there was another injury to a key player, but there were also some impressive performances from the Black and Gold.
Let’s fire up the latest Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down for The Hockey Writers.
Plus One: Trent Frederic
It has been a breakout season for Trent Frederic and he continued his offensive goal-scoring touch on the road trip. In a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on March 14, he tied the game late in the second period off a pass from Tyler Bertuzzi. In a 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on March 16, he scored just 50 seconds into the game to increase his total to 15, one shy of doubling the career high he set last season. Both goals were scored off passes right in front of the net, an area he’s not been afraid to get to. He then sealed a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on March 18 with an empty-net goal.
A first-round selection, 29th overall, in the 2016 Entry Draft, his development has slowly been coming around and he has found a home currently on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Bertuzzi. He is a restricted free agent (RFA) following the season and is on a list of players that general manager (GM) Don Sweeney will be looking to fit into next season’s tight cap space.
Minus One: Derek Forbort Injury
For the second time this season, Derek Forbort will miss some time in the lineup with an injury. The Bruins’ top penalty-killing defenseman broke a finger against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 1 and now he will miss more time after getting injured against the Jets when he blocked a Neal Pionk shot late in the second period.
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The biggest area Forbort will be missed for Boston will be killing penalties where he’s averaging 3:08 a night. When he missed time in November, the penalty kill struggled and fell out of the top spot in the league. Since he’s been back, they have once again moved back to the top unit in the league. Against the Wild, they went 1-for-5 on the penalty kill, then was perfect against the Buffalo Sabres on March 19 in a 7-0 win, killing all four of the host’s opportunities.
Plus Two: Jeremy Swayman
It was not the best start to the road trip for goalie Jeremy Swayman, but what a finish it was for the former University of Maine standout. After allowing four goals against the Detroit Red Wings, he recorded back-to-back shutouts over two teams in desperate need of points for the wild card standings in their respective conference.
Needing a big performance to break a two-game losing streak for the Bruins, Swayman turned back all 36 shots Winnipeg threw at him. Against the Sabres, he stopped all 26 shots for his second straight clean sheet, his fourth of the season and ninth in his career. He continues to impress in his second season with Linus Ullmark.
Minus Two: Nick Foligno & Taylor Hall
The news before the Buffalo game was not good when it comes to Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno. Before the Buffalo game, there was a question directed at the Black and Gold’s coach about his two veterans and Montgomery said “If you’re talking about the two guys at home (Hall and Foligno), they’re not going to be options for a while.” While it’s not surprising, it’s starting to be a concern that there are really no updates with the Stanley Cup Playoffs scheduled to begin on April 17. Right now the Bruins are blessed with depth, but getting one or both of Hall or Foligno back would be a big addition when the postseason begins.
Plus Three: Jakub Lauko
Early last week, the Bruins made some paper moves with the NHL, recalling Jakub Lauko from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) on an emergency basis, then sending him back down the next day. The drama ended when he worked his way into the lineup and despite playing less than 10 minutes each game, he impressed and made the case to earn more time.
Against the Jets, he played 6:29, but it was a noticeable time on the ice. He finished with two shots on the net, but during one second-period shift, he had three high-danger chances and with any luck, would have found the back of the net. Against Minnesota, he played 8:32 on the fourth line again with Tomas Nosek and Garnet Hathaway and impressed. Against the Sabres, he played just under 13 minutes. Lauko brings energy, he’s strong on the forecheck and has been good at transitioning through all three zones. He is someone who should see more time down the stretch when some players start to get some rest.
Minus Three: Connor Clifton
For most of this season, Connor Clifton has been one of the better Bruins defensemen. Last week, the former Quinnipiac University blue-liner had one of the tougher weeks in the lineup. Against Detroit to kick off the road trip, he played 17 minutes with a plus/minus of minus-1 with some turnovers in the defensive end. Two nights later in Chicago, he took a minus-3 in just 13:44 of time on ice and was on the ice for two of Raddysh’s three third-period goals. Clifton bounced back with a better performance in Minnesota with a plus-2 and in Buffalo. He is still a big part of where the Bruins want to get to this season, but last week was one of his toughest weeks of the season.
After their long trip, the Bruins return home to begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday (March 21), hosting the Ottawa Senators. After creating more separation between themselves and the rest of the league in the standings, it’s time for Montgomery to give more guys some rest ahead of the postseason.