Bruins Weekly: Possible Playoff Opponents, Pastrnak, Haula & More

As the 2021-22 regular season comes to a close Friday night, the grind of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs begins next week for the Boston Bruins and 15 other teams. In this edition of Bruins Weekly, we will look back at the week that was for Boston with a milestone reached in an impressive fashion, a penalty shot scare with a positive result, and more.

Playoff Opponent Still Not Determined

With three days remaining in the regular season and the Eastern Conference standings being packed tight, there is still no definitive answer as to who the Bruins will face next week in their first best-of-seven series. Boston currently holds the first wild card spot and is three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for third place in the Atlantic Division and five points ahead of the Washington Capitals for the final wild card spot. Boston can’t finish lower than the first wild card.

Related: Bruins’ First-Round Opponent Preference: Hurricanes or Maple Leafs

If the Bruins catch and pass the Lightning, they will begin the playoffs where they finish the regular season on Friday night, at the Toronto Maple Leafs. If they finish with the first will card slot, they will get the Metropolitan Division winner, which is the Carolina Hurricanes. In the end, there is no easy way to begin the postseason for the Black and Gold.

Pastrnak Reaches Milestone in Impressive Fashion

In Saturday’s 3-1 win over the New York Rangers, David Pastrnak returned to the lineup and made an immediate impact, which also allowed him to reach a milestone in an impressive fashion. After scoring a first-period goal, Pastrnak broke up a cross-ice pass with the puck deflecting to Erik Haula, who sprung Taylor Hall on a breakaway and he scored for a 2-0 Bruins lead. Picking up the second assist on the play, Pastrnak collected his 500th career point in just 239 games.

Pastrnak joined some elite company in reaching his feat. The only two players in Bruins history to reach 500 points faster than Pastrnak was Bobby Orr (396 games) and Ray Bourque who did it in 484 games.

“Obviously, it’s nice. Tell me as a kid, I wouldn’t believe it. Obviously, I’m very humble about it and happy. Something more that you look back to and you really enjoy with your family and friends. So it’s nice, but at the same time, there’s other goals that I have in mind.”

David Pastrnak (from ‘Cassidy admired LeFleur’, Boston Globe, April 24, 2022)

Two of Pastrnak’s current teammates have also reached 500 career points. Patrice Bergeron has 973 career points and Brad Marchand has 788. Pastrnak was the 16th player in franchise history to reach 500 career points.

Haula’s Weird Penalty Shot

Late in the first period of Sunday night’s 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre, Haula broke in alone, and Montreal’s Mike Hoffman was called for slashing the stick out of Haula’s hand. In a surprising turn of events, Haula was awarded a penalty shot. It ended up not being your normal penalty shot.

Erik Haula, Boston Bruins
Erik Haula, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Haula skated toward the puck, but his stick went over the puck without making contact with it. Haula stopped, went back to get the puck, and broke in before beating Canadiens’ goalie Sam Montembeault for a 2-0 Boston lead and his first of two goals in the game. Haula not touching the puck in his original attempt when he overskated it allowed him to go back, get the puck and finish his attempt.

It was not the first time that a Bruin has had an issue with a penalty shot or in a shootout. On Jan. 13, 2020, Brad Marchand overskated the puck in a shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers, but because he touched the puck, that attempt was considered a missed attempt. Haula joked after the game that Marchand wished he had touched the puck so his alternate captain would not be alone in the shootout mishap.

“He was hoping that I touched it because he had done it before, so he wasn’t going to be alone in that boat,” Haula said.

Coyle Reaches Milestone Against Canadiens

During the Bruins’ win over the Canadiens Sunday night, Charlie Coyle played in his 700th career game, his 221st since being traded from the Minnesota Wild to Boston in February of 2019. Along with another trade deadline acquisition, Marcus Johnnson, both played a big part in the Black and Gold’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.

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

In his fourth season in Boston, Coyle has 16 goals and 27 assists as a middle-six center. Since joining the Bruins, the Massachusetts native has 40 goals and 62 assists. His 16 goals this season ties his high as a Bruin, when he recorded 16 in the 70-game shortened 2019-20 season.

DeSmith Frustrates Bruins 

The Bruins have outshot their opponents before and ended up on the losing end this season. Thursday night’s 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins might very well take the cake as their most frustrating loss of the 2021-22 season.

Boston fired 52 shots at Casey DeSmith and he stopped all of them. A lot of the shots were from a distance and he left his fair share of rebounds, but his defense did a good job of clearing the puck before a Bruin could get their stick on the puck. DeSmith made 11 first-period saves, then turned back 19 more in the second and 22 in the third. While he was stonewalling the Black and Gold, his team staked him to a 3-0 lead after two periods on a handful of Bruins’ mistakes. Every single player that suited up for coach Bruce Cassidy, with the exception of goalie Jeremy Swayman, registered at least one shot on the net.

Casey DeSmith, Pittsburgh Penguins
Casey DeSmith, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

On April 16, DeSmith allowed two early goals to the Bruins in a 2-1 Boston win when Trent Frederic and Haula scored in the first 2:01. Over the next five-plus periods, DeSmith stopped the next 79 Black and Gold shots fired at him in a five-day span. 

Bruins by the Numbers in 2021-22

With the regular-season closing Friday against the Maple Leafs on the road and 80 games already in the book, here are some numbers to crunch on as the Stanley Cup playoffs begin next week.

  • The Bruins are 31-1-3 when leading after two periods. In the playoffs, that could be a benchmark that they look to strive for in the first 40 minutes of each game.
  • When the Bruins beat the Rangers on April 23, they became the 11th team this season to eclipse the 100-point plateau. It was the fourth time in the last five seasons they have done it and it was the 25th time in franchise history. The other two Original Six teams that are the closest to the Bruins in 100-point seasons are the Detroit Red Wings and Canadiens, who have each done it 19 times.
  • Afternoon games have been an issue in past seasons for the Bruins, but this season they finished the regular season 11-2. They might be hoping that is a playoff game or two scheduled for the afternoon.
  • With their 5-3 win over Montreal Sunday night, the Bruins completed the season-sweep, winning all four games. The last time they swept the Canadiens in a season series was in 2017-18. They also did it in 1929-30 and 1994-95.

The Week Ahead

  • Thursday: vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
  • Friday: at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7 p.m.

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