Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down: Pastrnak, DeBrusk, Hall, McAvoy & More

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.

It took over half of the 2022-23 season, but the Boston Bruins are facing adversity. For the first time this season, the Black and Gold are in the midst of a three-game losing streak after dropping three straight on their current five-game road trip. In the latest edition of Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down, three forwards break out of a scoring slump, the second line is carrying the offensive load, an injured player is getting closer to returning, and more.

Plus One: Hall, Smith & Coyle Break Scoring Droughts

Lost in the wins that the Bruins have collected over the last month have been the offensive struggles of Craig Smith, Taylor Hall, and Charlie Coyle. The trio broke their droughts last week in three different ways.

Charlie Coyle Boston Bruins
Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Hall broke his drought dating back to Dec. 17 when he poked home a rebound on the power play against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 24 in a 4-2 win. He tallied his second goal of the week in the 4-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Jan. 29. Smith and Coyle broke their droughts in the Bruins’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Jan. 28. Smith stole an attempted clearing pass in the first period and ripped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Alex Lyon. In the second period, Coyle made a pass along the boards toward Hall on the opposite side of the net, but Florida’s Sam Bennett batted the puck out of the air and into his net. With the droughts they have been in, they’ll take the goals any way they can get them.

Minus One: Bruins Winning Streak Snapped By Lightning

Something had to give. The Bruins entered the Jan. 26 matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning on a six-game winning streak, while the Lightning was on a 10-game home winning streak. Unfortunately for Boston, the hosts were able to extend their home mark in a game that had a playoff-type atmosphere to it.

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The Black and Gold twice rallied from a one-goal deficit to tie the game, but Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman took advantage of Brandon Carlo colliding with Linus Ullmark late in the third period to snap a 2-2 tie and score the game-winning goal in a 3-2 Lightning victory. Truth be told, the Bruins were lucky to only lose by a goal as they struggled with defensive zone turnovers and their transition defense was not very good. It was one of those nights.

Plus Two: Czechia Line Continues to Drive Offense

What a week for the second line of David Pastrnak, David Krejci, and Pavel Zacha. The trio combined for four goals and eight assists in four games with Pastrnak leading the way with two goals and three assists.

David Pastrnak Boston Bruins 2023 Winter Classic
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins 2023 Winter Classic (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Since losing DeBrusk, Montgomery has been switching different payers out on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and that has included Pastrnak. In the overall big picture, keeping the Czechia line together as much as possible going forward is almost a must. Too many good things happen when they’re on the ice together.

Minus Two: Bruins Have Injury Scare With Frederic and McAvoy

Already missing Jake DeBrusk and Tomas Nosek with broken feet, the Bruins got a scare against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 26 in the third period. Charlie McAvoy was chasing the puck into the defensive end and lost his balance and slide hard into the boards. After being down for a few minutes, McAvoy got up and went to the locker room, but returned later in the period and finished the game.

Charlie McAvoy Boston Bruins
Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Two nights later against the Panthers, Trent Frederic blocked a shot in the first period and left the game with a lower-body injury. Coach Jim Montgomery said that the injury didn’t appear to be serious, and he returned to the lineup the next night against the Hurricanes. The Black and Gold don’t need injuries piling up in chunks ahead of their upcoming break.

Plus Three: Jake DeBrusk Back on Skates

Following the Bruins’ 2-1 Winter Classic win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Fenway Park on Jan. 2, it was announced that DeBrusk would miss at least a month with a fractured foot after scoring two third-period goals. On Jan. 24, Jim Montgomery told the media that the first line right wind began skating at Warrior Ice Arena (from ‘On return to his hometown of Montreal, Bruins coach Jim Montgomery recalls the great Canadiens’ teams of his youth,’ Boston Globe, Jan. 24, 2022).

Montgomery said that the Bruins could get him back in the lineup at the end of the road trip, which ends Feb. 1 in Toronto, but with a 10-day break following that game and the All-Star break, there is no need to rush the 14th overall pick of the 2015 Entry Draft back too early. On Jan. 28, Montgomery confirmed that they are targeting the post-All-Star break for his return.

Minus Three: Third-Period Struggles Becoming a Concern

One big strength of the 2022-23 Bruins this season has been their ability to put together strong third periods whether they’re losing, tied, or ahead. Their two-game swing through the state of Florida offered some cracks in their third-period dominance.

They were outscored 4-2 combined by the Lightning and Panthers and it led to their first back-to-back losses of the season. Tampa Bay broke a 2-2 third-period tie with a Hedman’s goal late in the game, before Aleksander Barkov tied the game 3-3 for the Panthers with three seconds left before they won it 17 seconds into overtime. It could just be a blip on the radar, or it could be turning into something more of a concern that should be watched after the 10-day break.

It’s safe to say the last seven days have been the most frustrating seven-day stretch of the season for the Black and Gold. Following the matchup with the Maple Leafs, it will be a much-earned extended break for the Atlantic Division leaders. Montgomery, Ullmark, and Pastrnak will head to Miami for the All-Star game, then get a week off. Also taking a week off will be this column and it will return in the middle of February on its usual day, Monday.

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