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.
The 2022-23 season for the Boston Bruins continues to be a start that nobody saw coming. Over the last seven days, the Black and Gold won three all three games, two on home ice and one a tough back-to-back on the road, against three teams that have playoff aspirations. Despite three wins, there were still some ups and downs for Boston.
As the NHL hits the three-day holiday break, it’s time for the final installment of the Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down for 2022 for The Hockey Writers.
Plus One: David Pastrnak’s Scoring Streak Continues
Another week, another productive week for David Pastrnak. In three games, he scored four goals and had an assist in the three Bruins’ wins to stretch his point streak to 11 games. Each of his goals was meaningful in helping sweep the week for the NHL’s best team. Against the Florida Panthers on Dec. 19, his second-period power play goal gave the Bruins a 4-0 lead and turned out to be the game-winner in a 7-3 victory.
On Dec. 22 against the Winnipeg Jets, Christmas came early for Pastrnak as Nick Foligno’s dump-in to the offensive zone took a bounce off the glass and went into the front of an open net and Pastrnak buried it to cut the deficit to 2-1 on the way to a 3-2 come-from-behind victory. On Dec. 23 against the New Jersey Devils, he broke a 1-1 tie with two straight second-period goals on the way to a 4-3 win. In 33 games, he has 24 goals and 23 assists.
Minus One: Bruins First Period Troubles Continue
One storyline that continues to get overlooked because the Bruins have the best record in the NHL at 27-4-2 is their struggles in the first period. They have done a good job of having bounce-back second and third periods, but there are only so many times they will be able to struggle and dig themselves out of a hole.
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They fell behind the Jets 2-0, but rallied with two second-period goals and a third-period winner from Foligno. Against the Devils, Jack Hughes gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead before four second-period goals by the Black and Gold sparked another come-from-behind win. With a lot of road games coming up, getting off to better starts is a must.
Plus Two: Brandon Carlo
The Bruins have been getting balanced scoring from up and down their lineup this season, but one player who had yet to find the back of the net is defenseman Brandon Carlo. It took 27 games, but the 6-foot-5 blueliner finally scored when he took a pass from Brad Marchand and beat Florida goalie Spencer Knight with a wrist shot from the top of the slot.
Carlo has been a steady defenseman this season for coach Jim Montgomery and against the Jets, he didn’t score, but his play 5-on-5 was just as important. In 15:04 of time on ice, the Black and Gold outshot Winnipeg, 17-1, and had just 30-percent (%). of his faceoffs in the offensive zone. That’s as impressive as it gets in a 60-minute game. He is averaging 18:41 in time on ice a night with a plus/minus of plus-16.
Minus Two: Independent Investigation Complete
The only thing that has gone wrong this season has gone wrong off the ice and in the front office. On Nov. 4, the Bruins announced that general manager (GM) Don Sweeney signed Mitchell Miller to a contract. It immediately led to a big brushback from the fans and the hockey world and rightfully so. Miller, who bullied a classmate with disabilities when he was younger, was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in 2020, but renounced his rights after Isaiah Myers-Crothers spoke out about Miller. And still, the Bruins thought it was ok to bring him in after everyone else in the league passed.
The Bruins hired a third-party investigator led by a former attorney general to investigate the player-vetting process. The results came back by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch that the Bruins cooperated and that the team needed to strengthen their player-vetting process. In the end, nobody lost their job and the story ends there. Still not a good look for Sweeney or team president Cam Neely.
Plus Three: Home Streak to Start 2022-23 Continues
As the NHL is on their three-day holiday break, the Bruins have already played 20 games at the TD Garden and remarkably, they have yet to lose in regulation after wins over the Panthers and Jets last week. They are 18-0-2 on home ice and have banked 38 out of a possible 40 points. Their two losses were to Western Conference opponents, the Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings in a shootout, but they have other close calls. Winnipeg built a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes, but the Black and Gold rallied with three straight to win the game. The next game on TD Garden ice is Dec. 31 against the Buffalo Sabres before the Winter Classic on Jan. 2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Fenway Park.
Minus Three: Bruins Were in the Giving Mood for the Holidays
Three games last week leading into Christmas and the Bruins were in the giving mood, literally. in three games, they had 33 giveaways, which included 13 in each contest against the Panthers and Jets. Florida did not make the Bruins pay as much as the Jets did. Winnipeg got first-period goals from Mark Scheifele and Jansen Harkins before Boston rallied. Despite their strong start to the season, there are plenty of areas that Boston needs to clean up going forward and the defensive zone is one place to start.
Boston without a doubt is the biggest story to begin the season the way they have, sitting eight points up in the Atlantic Division on the very talented Toronto Maple Leafs and six points clear of the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference. Coming out of the holiday break the Bruins will face a daunting schedule, including a trip out West. Things are only going to get tougher for Montgomery’s team.