Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down: Zacha, Bergeron, Senators & More

After a three-day holiday break, the Boston Bruins collected four out of a possible six points, but just not in the way they would have liked. A shootout loss, and an overtime loss were sandwiched around a regulation win on the second night of a tough back-to-back against a team that had been off for five days. Despite it all, the Bruins still sit on top of the NHL standings with a league-best 28-4-4 record.

Boston Bruins 3 Up, 3 Down
Boston Bruins 3 Up, 3 Down (The Hockey Writers)

Without further ado, let’s fire up the latest Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down.

Plus One: Pavel Zacha 

All season long, Pavel Zacha has been doing the little things to help the Bruins win, but last week, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 Entry Draft had his best week from a production standpoint. It’s coming at a time when it’s needed.

Pavel Zacha Boston Bruins
Pavel Zacha, Boston Bruins (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Zacha scored the game-tying goal against the Ottawa Seniors on Dec. 28 in the third period, then sealed the 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils one night later with an empty-net goal. Against the Buffalo Sabres, he set up David Pastrnak’s first-period goal with a nice pass at center ice to spring David Krejci and Pastrnak into the offensive zone.

In 36 games, he has five goals and 18 assists and is on his way to setting career highs in each category.

Minus One: Bruins Fall to Senators………. Again

The Bruins enter 2023 with just eight overall losses, however, two of the eight have come at the hands of the Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Go figure. Ottawa dealt Boston their first regulation loss on Oct. 18 in a wild 7-5 scoring fest that saw the teams combine for 11 goals in the first two periods.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Bruins’ 4-3 Overtime Loss to Sabres

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The latest loss came on Dec. 27 in the first game after the three-day holiday break. This time the Senators won 3-2 in a shootout, but the only reason the game got to a shootout was the play of Ottawa goalie Cam Talbot, who made 49 saves, including 26 alone in the third period as the Bruins rallied to tie the game.

Tim Stutzle and Alex DeBrincat scored the regulation goals for the Senators, before DeBrincat scored the deciding goal in the shootout. Bruins’ goalie Jeremy Swayman played as well as Talbot, but not well enough to overcome his counterpart’s effort. Swayman made 30 saves and the good news for the Black and Gold is the final two meetings of the season will be held at the TD Garden.

Plus Two: Patrice Bergeron

At 37 years old, Patrice Bergeron is playing like he has a lot left in the tank. As a veteran, he has seen just about it all and against the Devils, the Bruins captain came up clutch late in the game when his team needed him.

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tied 1-1 with just under five minutes left, Bergeron went to the front of the New Jersey net and deflected a wrist shot from Hampus Lindholm past Vitek Vanecek for the game-winning goal. Against the Sabres, he tied the game in the third period with a power play goal on a shot from the bumper position. When needed, he does what he needs to do late in games to help his team.

Minus Two: Tomas Nosek Misses Two Out of Three Games

If there has been one thing that the Bruins have avoided this season is a large number of injuries. Their forward grouping has been healthy, but their fourth line took a hit last week when Tomas Nosek missed the games against the Devils and Sabres. In missing Nosek, Boston is missing one of their top face-off centers as he has won 58.3 percent of his draws this year and is a vital penalty killer with Charlie Coyle. 

Plus Three: Winter Classic

After almost a year of anticipation, the 2023 Winter Classic is finally here against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 2 at Fenway Park. It is the third time that the Black and Gold are hosting the annual game as they hosted it in 2010 when they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime 2-1. At Fenway. In 2016, they lost 5-1 to the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium.

Overall Boston is 2-1 in Winter Classics as they beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2 at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019. In 2021, they played the Flyers at Lake Tahoe and won 7-3 in their last outdoor game.

Minus Three:  Power Play Struggles

Yes, Bergeron scored on the power play against the Sabres, but in the two previous games, they combined to go 0-for-6, and against the Senators, their first two power plays you could say that they killed them for their Atlantic Division foe. On their final chance in the third period, the Bruins had eight shots in the two minutes, but Talbot put on as good of a goaltending performance as anyone in a long time with save after save.

One trend in the last week that has hurt the Bruins is the force-feeding of Bergeron in the bumper position at times, while their zone entries have not been clean. It’s not just the first unit, but the second unit has struggled too. Fixing the power play issues before they head to the West Coast is a must.

Related: 5 Biggest Bruins’ Storylines of 2022

After the Winter Classic, the Bruins head west for the second time this season for three games in four days. They will certainly be tested with their furthest road trip of 2022-23 so far. Another three-game road trip where four out of six points collected would be considered a success.

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