Welcome to the latest edition of the Boston Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down for the 2022-23 season. This will be a weekly column released on Mondays chronicling the highs and lows of the previous seven days.
Sooner or later, the law of averages was going to catch up with the Boston Bruins following their historic start to the 2022-23 season. The past week saw some ups and downs for the Black and Gold both on home ice and on the road on their three-game road trip out West.
With that said, it’s time to look back at the last seven days for the Bruins in the latest Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down.
Plus One: Taylor Hall
There is nobody hotter right now on the Bruins than Taylor Hall. He had three goals and an assist in four games last week. He tied the game in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 5, then scored two goals and registered an assist in the 4-0 win in Denver over the Colorado Avalanche.
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Not only has Hall been scoring, but he’s also seeing the ice very well, using his speed to get separation from opponents and making some of the little plays to set up his linemates, Trent Frederic and Charlie Coyle. Since being moved to the third line, Hall has been a big difference-maker for the Bruins.
Minus One: Craig Smith
After not playing since the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 25, Craig Smith returned to the lineup against the Avalanche after missing three games. Unfortunately for Smith, it was more of the same results.
In just over 12 minutes of time on ice, he had one shot on the net, playing on the fourth line with Tomas Nosek and Nick Foligno. Against the Arizona Coyotes on Dec. 9, he had one shot in just eight minutes of ice time and then failed to register a shot in 9:33 against the Vegas Golden Knights. Smith, who replaced A.J. Greer in the lineup, has just one goal in 15 games this season. He is someone the Black and Gold would move in a trade, but he’s not helping his value this season.
Plus Two: Trent Frederic
If there is one candidate for Most Improved for the Bruins this season, it is quietly becoming Frederic. The 29th overall pick in the 2016 Entry Draft has struggled with inconsistency the last couple of years in the NHL, but he’s becoming a key piece of the top-nine this season under Jim Montgomery.
Against the Avalanche, he scored a third-period goal, then against the Coyotes, he used his speed in the first period to get to a loose puck, and break in on goalie Karel Vejmelka who stopped his shot. After the whistle, Coyle drew a roughing penalty that led to a David Pastrnak power play goal. In three games on the trip, he had four shots on the net, but his all-around game is rounding into form this season.
Minus Two: Vegas Ends Home Winning Streak
In the big picture, did anyone really think the Bruins were going to be 41-0-0 at TD Garden this season? I didn’t think so. After winning their first 14 games at home, the Golden Knights handed them their first loss, 4-3 in a shootout on Dec. 5. The Bruins showed some grit battling back from a 3-0 deficit, but former Bruin Reilly Smith sealed the win with the only goal of the shootout for either team. The good news is Boston has yet to lose in regulation on home ice and we are closing in on the middle of December, which is remarkable.
Plus Three: David Pastrnak
As Pastrnak continues to play out the final year of his contract, his value keeps going up with each game that passes by, and last week, the former co-Maurice Rocket Richard Award winner in the 2019-20 season tallied a goal in three of the four games to raise his total for the season to 19. His most impressive goal was against the Golden Knights in Boston on Dec. 5 when he collected the puck along the wall, spun around, and beat Logan Thompson at the end of the second period.
Minus Three: Jeremy Swayman
It was not a good week, to say the least for goalie Jeremy Swayman. He suffered the shootout loss to the Golden Knights on Dec. 5, then in the middle game of their three-game road trip, he struggled against the Coyotes in a stunning 4-3 loss.
He allowed a goal just 23 seconds into the game to former teammate Josh Brown, then allowed the game-winner with 13.7 seconds left when Lawson Crouse buried his second goal of the game in a controversial way. Arizona cleared the puck and it looked like it was going to be called icing and the puck rolled past Swayman, but the icing was waived off at the last second. Derek Forbort turned the puck over behind the net and Crouse one-timed a pass from Matias Maccelli past Swayman to break the 3-3 tie.
Swayman stopped 12 of the 16 shots he faced, but in the big picture, the Bruins could have used a stop here or there by the former University of Maine standout. It was not a great night defensively in their own zone for Boston, but when that happens, you need your goalie to make a save or two, something he failed to do.
After the start the Bruins had at the beginning of the season, sooner or later you knew there were going to be some bumps in the road, especially with their schedule of late. Now they begin a five-game homestand with an opportunity to get some of their momentum back.