Bruins Weekly: Pastrnak, Wagner, Smith, Zboril & More

Just when you don’t think the Boston Bruins could surprise you more in 2022-23, they continue to do so. Playing three games in four days in California, the Black and Gold swept their trip against the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and Anaheim Ducks to improve to an NHL-best 32-4-4.

Boston Bruins Weekly Patrice Bergeron Brad Marchand

In the latest edition of Bruins Weekly, David Pastrnak has a week to remember, a popular veteran returns, another veteran finally finds the back of the net and more.

Pastrnak Has a Road Trip to Remember

On Jan. 9, the NHL announced that Pastrnak was named the first star of the week, and rightfully so. In three games out west, the Bruins’ leading scorer had seven goals and one assist. He had two goals each against the Kings and Sharks, before recording a hat trick in the final game of the perfect 3-0-0 trip against the Ducks, which included two goals just 17 seconds apart.

Pastrnak leads the Bruins with 32 goals, two behind the NHL leader, Connor McDavid, of the Edmonton Oilers and one ahead of Tage Thompson of the Buffalo Sabres. A free agent following the season, Pastrnak is making a case for one of the biggest contracts in NHL history.

Zboril See First Game Action SInce November

The last time that Jakub Zboril was on the ice in a game for the Bruins was in a 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Nov. 23. That night, the 13th overall pick of the 2015 Entry Draft played just 11 shifts for a time on ice of 7:17. Since then, he has been a healthy scratch and waiting for his chance to return and he did against the Sharks on Jan. 7.

Jakub Zboril Boston Bruins
Jakub Zboril, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In the Bruins’ 4-2 win, he played just 6:47 and 12 shifts as he rotated through partners as coach Jim Montgomery decided to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Prior to the game with the Ducks on Jan. 8, Montgomery spoke about how his young defenseman performed after a very long layoff, saying he was sharp with the puck and responsible defensively (from ‘Bruins’ Jim Montgomery shifts his lines to spread around the scoring,’ Boston Globe, Jan. 9, 2023).

“As much as we can, we want to get him in,’’ said Montgomery. “He deserves to play again tonight. Again, we’re blessed with great depth.’’

Related: Bruins’ Need to Avoid Pushing ‘Team-Friendly Deal’ With Pastrnak

Zboril now will sit and wait again until his name is called by Montgomery. It will most likely take an injury or a blueliner needing a night off to get him in there. With the way the Bruins’ defense is playing, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Smith Finally Finds the Back of the Net

Last season, Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek were the most snakebitten Bruins when it came to putting the puck in the net. This season, that distinction has gone to Craig Smith who has struggled to find the back of the net, despite shooting from anywhere when he has the opportunity. Against the Sharks, the bottom-six right wing scored his first goal since Oct. 27 with a first-period snipe by James Reimer.

One night later against the Ducks, Montgomery rewarded the veteran forward by moving him to the top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron as part of shaking up the lines on a tough back-to-back in less than 24 hours. Don’t count out the move also being done to showcase Smith with two of the Bruins’ better playmakers in an effort to raise his stock for a possible trade ahead of the March 3 trade deadline.

Wagner Makes Season Debut

When Jake DeBrusk went down with a fractured fibula in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, veteran Chris Wagner was called up from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the trip. After sitting out the first two games and one night after going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, Wagner made his season debut against Anaheim on the fourth line with Foligno and Nosek.

Chris Wagner, Boston Bruins
Chris Wagner, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Wagner played 12:36 in time on ice, which is nearly four to five minutes more than Smith and A.J. Greer play in a game, on 18 shifts. He had some time on the penalty kill and registered six hits. On Jan. 11, the Bruins returned Wagner to Providence and recalled Joona Koppanen in his place.

Bruins Face Tough Upcoming Homestand

After three games in four days, the Black and Gold get three days off before opening a three-game homestand and it will be a tough one. They open with the Seattle Kraken on Jan. 12, a team that sits in third place in the Pacific Division and looking for their first-ever postseason berth. The Toronto Maple Leafs, who are second in the Atlantic Division behind the Bruins come in on Jan. 14 looking to put a dent in their 11-point deficit in the standings. The Philadelphia Flyers come to town on Jan. 16 for an afternoon game and John Tortorella’s group has struggled this season, but they recently have been playing some good hockey and had their four-game winning streak snapped by the Maple Leafs on Jan. 8.

Bruins Week Ahead

  • Thursday: vs. Seattle Kraken, 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m.
  • Monday: vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 1 p.m.