A long month of January came to an end for the Boston Bruins, who went 11-4-1 and put some separation for the time being between themselves and the Detroit Red Wings for the final Eastern Conference wild card spot. The last week on the road for coach Bruce Cassidy and his team was a frustrating one, but one that gave them an up-close look at two possible trade targets, while three former members of the Bruins returned to the TD Garden ahead of this weekend’s All-Star break, which is where we begin this Bruins Weekly.
Bruins Get First Look at Kraken, Former Teammates
It took nearly four months, but the Black and Gold got their first look at the NHL’s 32nd team, the Seattle Kraken, which just happens to have three former Bruins on it. Boston won the chippy game 3-2 on two David Pastrnak goals, which overshadowed the return of three players who used to wear the Spoked-B.
Three former members of the Black and Gold made their return to the TD Garden, where they once called home. Jeremy Lauzon, Ryan Donato, and Marcus Johansson all returned with the first-year Kraken. Lauzon was selected by Seattle general manager Ron Francis with the first pick in last July’s draft. Donato was traded away with a fifth-round draft pick by Boston general manager Don Sweeney at the 2019 trade deadline to the Minnesota Wild for Charlie Coyle. Johansson was acquired at the same trade deadline from the New Jersey Devils for two draft picks and he played a big part with Coyle in the Bruins getting to the Stanley Cup Final.
Donato leads the trio of former Bruins with nine goals and 17 points. Johansson, who left after the 2019 Stanley Cup Final and signed with the Buffalo Sabres in free agency, has five goals and nine assists. Lauzon, who was a big loss last offseason for Boston has one goal and four assists with a plus/minus of minus-11.
Tuesday’s game was supposed to lead into the Olympic break for the Bruins, but in December, the NHL players backed out of playing in the Winter Games due to COVID-19. In a schedule quirk, the Black and Gold were to begin the post-Olympic break with their first trip to Seattle, but with the players backing out, the league will make up some of the games missed due to COVID-19 over the next couple of weeks following this weekend’s All-Star game. The Bruins are scheduled to play the Kraken again on Feb. 24.
Frustrating Road Trip vs. Two Possible Trade Targets
The Bruins spent a majority of the last week on the road and went 1-1-1, but it felt like they could have got more than three out of a possible six points. They blew a late lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 26, before struggling to beat the Arizona Coyotes, 2-1, two nights later, for their 17th consecutive win over the Coyotes. In the final game of the trip, they were beaten soundly by the Dallas Stars, 6-1.
Not only was it a frustrating trip on the ice, but it was just as frustrating off. Hours before the game in Arizona, the Bruins announced that Tuukka Rask would miss the game with a lower-body injury, which prompted Jeremy Swayman to be recalled from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL). Then hours before the game against the Stars, Erik Haula was placed into COVID-19 protocols, which moved Steven Fogarty into the lineup as the third-line center.
On the trip, the Black and Gold got a look at two possible trade targets ahead of the March 21 trade deadline. Against the Coyotes, left-shot defensemen Jakob Chychrun attempted 10 shots on net in the game, landing four and blocking two shots in 20:48 in time on ice. Of all the trade targets on defense, he is the one that Sweeney should be going for. Against the Stars, right-shot defensemen John Klingberg set up Roope Hintz for a third-period power play goal with a nice cross-ice pass. Klingberg played just under 20 minutes and would be the cheaper of the two blueliners to acquire since he is on an expiring contract.
Three out of six points is not a bad trip, but considering you played well enough against the Avalanche to get two points with a regulation win and then all the off-ice issues, it was a trip that the Bruins were glad was ending following their loss to the Stars.
Bergeron Heads to Vegas
Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron will be Boston’s player participating in the annual game at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas and it will be his third career trip to the mid-season game. The 36-year-old, who will be a free agent following the 2021-22 season, is third on the team in goals with 12, he has 22 assists which is second on the team, and he is third in points with 34. Even near the end of his career, Bergeron is still honored to represent the Black and Gold.
“It’s always an honor. Definitely appreciative,” said Bergeron. “It’s obviously a team effort. We have some very deserving players on this team, starting with Brad [Marchand] and Charlie [McAvoy] and [David Pastrnak] and so on. Right now, we’re concentrating on building something as a team and getting on a roll.”
Marchand certainly has played well enough to have been the Bruins representative this weekend, but no one of going to argue that Bergeron gets one more All-Star game on his resume.
The Week Ahead
- Tuesday: vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m.