In this week’s edition of Bruins Weekly, two prospects make their debuts, the goal-scoring struggles continue, David Pastrnak joins elite Bruins company and more.
Goal Scoring Struggles Continue
In their last six games, the Bruins have been held to one goal or less in four of them, while being shutout twice. The only two games where they scored more than one goal was on March 11 in a 4-0 shutout of the New York Rangers and in Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak has accounted for 35 of the team’s 73 goals.
Over the last couple of seasons, secondary scoring behind the first line is something that general manager Don Sweeney has tried to address, without much luck. If the Bruins are going to make the playoffs and make a run, a trade for a second-line right wing or any forward that can supply production is a must. With the way things have been going in the last month, a playoff berth is not guaranteed for this Bruins team, who is holding the final MassMutual East Divison playoff spot by three points over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Vladar, Steen Make Debuts
When Tuukka Rask suffered an undisclosed injury on March 7 against the New Jersey Devils, Jaroslav Halak played in the next four games for the Bruins. Boston was faced with their first back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday since Rask’s injury and Dan Vladar made his first career start for the Black and Gold against the Penguins. Vladar made his NHL debut last August at the Toronto playoff bubble in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in relief of Halak in a 7-1 loss. He stopped 12 of the 15 shots he faced that night.
Vladar was very impressive Tuesday night as he stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced, including an incredible stick save on the Penguins Colton Sceviour in the first period. After Pastrnak gave the Bruins an early 1-0 lead with a power play goal, Sceviour was alone at the side of the net and the rebound of a shot from the point came to him with an open net. Vladar swung his 6-foot-5 body and stick around and knocked the shot away.
Coach Bruce Cassidy continued to shake-up his lines on Tuesday and rookie right winger Oskar Steen made his NHL debut on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Nick Ritchie. Steen ended up with two shots on net and five hits in 9:13 of ice-time.
2015 First Round Picks in Lineup Together
Prior to his first NHL Entry Draft as general manager of the Bruins, Sweeney made two trades that got him the 13th and 15th picks to go along with his team’s 14th pick, giving him three consecutive selections in 2015. Using those picks, Sweeney selected Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn. March 11 against the Rangers, all three players were in the lineup for the first time together.
DeBrusk is in his fourth season with the Bruins and Zboril has become a key defenseman in his rookie season. Senyshyn, who had five goals and four assists for the Providence Bruins in 11 American Hockey League games this season, made his season debut after playing in six games the last three seasons. Unfortunately, he suffered an upper-body injury against the Rangers and has been out since.
The 2015 first round has been a draft that has been widely considered a “loss” for the Bruins considering the players selected following the 15th pick, but for one night, all three picks were in the lineup for Boston. So far, DeBrusk has 126 points in 223 career games, Zboril has five assists in 27 games and Senyshyn has three points in seven career games.
Pastrnak Joins Elite Company
In his first seven seasons for the Bruins, Pastrnak has become one of the more elite goal scorers in franchise history. When he scored a goal against the Rangers on March 11, he joined some elite company when it comes to career points. Pastrnak became the fourth-fastest Bruin to record his 400th career point in just his 406th career game.
Bobby Orr did it the fastest for Boston in 333 games and Barry Pederson is next on the list two games behind him. Ray Bourque is just above Pastrnak on the list reaching the feat in 391 games and Keith Crowder rounds out the top five right behind Pastrnak collecting his milestone point in his 467th game.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: at Buffalo Sabres, 7 P.M.
- Saturday: at Buffalo Sabres, 1 P.M.
- Tuesday: vs. New York Islanders, 7 P.M.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.