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.
Another week down and it was another good week for the Boston Bruins. General manager (GM) Don Sweeney went to work ahead of the trade deadline, their top goalie made history and they have started their Western Conference road trip winning their first two games. They currently stand at 45-8-5 with a jaw-dropping 95 points to lead the NHL.
While it was another perfect week, there were certainly some ups and downs. Let’s look back at the last seven days in the latest Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down.
Plus One: David Pastrnak Records Third 40-Goal Season
In the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 20, David Pastrnak broke a 1-1 second-period tie when he scored off a pass from Charlie McAvoy for his 40th goal of the season. In the third period, he added an insurance goal on a breakaway. It was the third time in his career that Pastrnak reached the 40-goal mark in a season and he added to it on the current four-game road trip.
In a 6-5 win over the Seattle Kraken on Feb. 23 on the first game of the trip, he scored a second-period goal to give the Black and Gold a short-lived 2-1 lead. In 57 games this season, the 25th overall pick of the 2014 Entry Draft has 42 goals and 37 assists. He is second in the league in goals, six behind Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.
Minus One: Matt Grzelcyk Defensive Zone Breakdowns
It was a successful week in terms of wins and losses, however, there were some concerns in certain areas of the game. One of those areas was an area that the Bruins have been good in this season, avoiding defensive zone breakdowns, but last week, they reared their ugly head.
Against Ottawa, Matt Grzelcyk had a defensive zone turnover in the corner in the final minute of the period that the Senators turned into a Claude Giroux goal to tie the game 1-1. Against Seattle, Boston had issues all night clearing and controlling the puck in the defensive end. In the third period and the game tied 4-4, Grzelcyk had control of the puck in the corner with a chance to get it out, but failed and after the puck was played around the boards, the Kraken took a 5-4 lead when Jaden Schwartz redirected a Will Borgen shot from the point. Boston was able to win both of those games, but there is certainly work in the defensive zone that needs to be cleaned up going forward.
Plus Two: Don Sweeney Pulls off Unexpected Trade
For the last couple of weeks, the Bruins were linked to defensemen Jakob Chychrun of the Arizona Coyotes and Vladislav Gavrikov of the Columbus Blue Jackets, two left-shots to bolster their defense. It seemed like Sweeney was going land one of the two, but before the Kraken game, Boston’s GM made a trade that nobody saw coming.
Sweeney acquired Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway from the Washington Capitals in a three-team trade that also included the Minnesota Wild. Craig Smith was sent to the Capitals along with three draft picks, including the Bruins’ 2023 first-round pick. Washington retained 50% of Orlov’s $5.1 million cap hit and Minnesota retained 25% and sent prospect Andrei Svetlakov in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick from Boston.
The deal is a big one for the Bruins and brings something that they have been lacking in previous postseasons, toughness and grit on defense in Orlov and in the bottom six with Hathaway. This season, Orlov has three goals and 16 assists and is one of the better two-way defensemen, while Hathaway has nine goals and 16 points, but it’s his physicality on the forecheck and the little things he does that will greatly benefit the Black and Gold. This move has the potential to be a home run move by Sweeney.
Minus Two: Power Play Struggles
If there has been an area where the Bruins have been very good over the last five seasons, it’s been on the power play. Earlier this season, they were very good ranking near the top, but as of late, they have struggled on the man advantage, despite still winning games.
Related: Bruins Acquire Garnet Hathaway & Dmitry Orlov From Capitals
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Against the Senators, they went 0-for-4, then against the Kraken, they did not score on their only opportunity in the third period, which wasn’t even the full two minutes. In their last 11 games, they are 3-for-35 with a Hampus Lindholm goal against the Vancouver Canucks in a 3-1 win on Feb. 25 their last man-up goal. The first unit has been pressing with force-feeding Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron, while the second unit has been playing more freely and creating chances, just not being able to finish like the first unit.
Plus Three: Linus Ullmark Scores & Reaches 30 Wins
Is there anything that Linus Ullmark can’t do this year? In the Bruins’ win over the Canucks, he made 26 saves and even sealed the win with an empty net goal, the first in franchise history for a goaltender. The win was his 30th of the season and it made him the second-fastest goalie to 30 wins in a season and he did it in just 37 games. Following the game, he was very appreciative of his teammates after scoring the goal, something he has tried before this season.
“It’s one of the dreams I always had … I wanted to score a goal. I had the opportunity. I tried it at the Winter Classic, and it didn’t really make [it] and [this time] everything came together. I don’t know who it was, but someone in the pile told me, ‘You [have to] go to the bench, you [have to] go to the bench.’ So I appreciate that gesture from them.”Linus Ullmark (from ‘Linus Ullmark finishes the Bruins’ win over the Canucks with a rare goalie goal,’ Boston Globe, Feb. 25, 2023)
This season, Ullmark has a 30-4-1 record with a 1.86 goals against average (GAA) and a .938 save percentage (SV%). I’m not sure many people saw this type of year coming.
Minus Three: Taylor Hall’s Struggles Continue
While the Bruins have been winning, Taylor Hall has not been producing, and considering how important he is to this team, they hope he can turn it around soon. In three games last week, he had an assist, and seven shots on the net. Averaging just 13 minutes a night last week, he tends to score in streaks and bunches, but with his past history of struggling at different times, the Bruins hope he can turn it around soon.
Over the next seven days, the Bruins will play four games against three teams that are currently in a playoff position and one team that is in desperate need of points on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture. The trade deadline is just four days and does Sweeney make another move? If he does it would be a minor one, but the next week will be worth keeping an eye on the Black and Gold.