Bruins Weekly: Smith’s Struggles, Swayman’s Perfection & More

In this edition of Boston Bruins Weekly, Craig Smith’s struggles are starting to get concerning, Jeremy Swayman has been great on home ice, the power play has seemed to turn the corner, and more.

Smith’s Struggles Starting to Be a Concern

In the 2020 offseason, the Bruins big free agent signing was Smith, who signed a three-year, $9.3 million contract, with an annual cap hit of $3.1 million. Last season, he finished with 13 goals and 19 assists in 51 games, which also included a career-high plus/minus of plus-21. This season has been a struggle for Smith who in seven games has yet to record a point with a minus-5.

Craig Smith Boston Bruins
Craig Smith, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Last season following the Bruins trade for Taylor Hall at the April deadline, the second line of Smith, Hall, and David Krejci provided Boston with secondary scoring, which played a big role in them finishing the regular season strong and getting one of the four MassMutual East Division playoff berths. This season, Smith has missed three games with an undisclosed injury, but in the seven he has played in, it has been a struggle for a player that was a 20-goal scorer in five of his nine seasons with the Nashville Predators.

Related: Bruins News & Rumors: Rask, Forbort, Foligno & More

Smith, who very rarely passes up an opportunity to take a shot on the net, has 16 shots on the net this season and has been moved around on the right wing to a different line in an attempt to get him going. Does not having Krejci as his center have something to do with Smith’s slow start? Maybe, but the Black and Gold would benefit greatly from Smith finding his scoring touch.

Bergeron, Power Play Find Some Success

In a takeaways piece last week, I discussed the struggles to begin the season for Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins power play. No sooner than later that night did both find the back of the net with some consistency.

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

Bergeron, who entered the game Nov. 4 against the Detroit Red Wings with just three assists, scored four goals, three on the power play, in a 5-1 victory. In fact, Bergeron scored a natural hat trick by scoring one goal in the first period and two in the second, all on the man advantage, for a 3-0 lead. Entering the game, the Bruins were 3-for-19 on the power play. Two nights later in a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hall opened the scoring for Boston with a first-period power play goal when he tipped a Bergeron shot from the bumper position.

In Tuesday’s win over the Ottawa Senators, Bergeron broke a 2-2 tie in the second period with a goal in what turned out to be the game-winning goal in a 3-2 Bruins victory. Brad Marchand kept Boston’s power play streak going with a man advantage goal, making the Bruins 6-for-15 in the last week.

Swayman Still Perfect at Home

There has been very little that Swayman has done wrong in his first 15 career starts. In fact, in the Bruins win over the Senators Tuesday, the former University of Maine standout improved to 7-0 on home ice for his career. In his seven victories, Swayman has allowed just eight goals while sporting a 1.13 goals-against average (GAA) with a .947 save percentage (SV%) and two shutouts.

“I love playing at home. It’s the best arena in the NHL. It’s the best atmosphere you could ask for, so it’s fun coming home and winning in front of these fans.”

Jeremy Swayman

With two more home games in the next five days, there’s a good bet Swayman gets another start at home before the Bruins enter a five-day break following Sunday night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Cassidy Hits Milestone

In Boston’s win over Ottawa, Bruce Cassidy won his 200th career game in just his sixth season behind the Bruins bench. During his tenure in Boston, the 2019-20 Jack Adams Award winner has complied a 200-86-41 record and one trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 against the St. Louis Blues. In his first NHL coaching stop, Cassidy went 47-47-9 with the Washington Capitals in 2002-03 and 2003-04.

Bruins Welcome McDavid, Oilers to the TD Garden

One of the most exciting teams early in the 2021-22 season makes their way to the TD Garden Thursday night when Connor McDavid and the 9-2-0 Edmonton Oilers make their only appearance in Boston this season. McDavid is second on the team in goals with nine, one behind Leon Draisaitl, but the first overall pick of the 2015 Entry Draft by Edmonton scored quite possible what will be the goal of the season in a 6-5 overtime win over the New York Rangers on Nov. 5.

In two games this season against Western Conference opponents, the Bruins are 2-0 with a 3-1 season-opening win over the Dallas Stars on Oct. 16 and a 4-3 win over the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 24. Edmonton will be a tougher opponent than both of those teams, but they are also a fun and explosive team to watch. It is also the second of four games in six nights for the Black and Gold.

The Week Ahead

  • Thursday: vs. Edmonton Oilers, 7 p.m.
  • Saturday: at New Jersey Devils, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday: vs. Montreal Canadiens, 7 p.m.

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