In this week’s edition of Boston Bruins Weekly, the top-six forwards are heating up and keying their winning streak, two third-line forwards continue to struggle, the Bruins penalty kill has nearly a perfect week, and more.
Top-Six Forwards Heating Up
When the Bruins acquired Taylor Hall from the Buffalo Sabres on April 11, the hope was that he would find his goal-scoring touch and be able to help provide the Black and Gold with two goal-scoring lines. In their last four games, that certainly has been the case.
In five victories in seven days, the top two lines combined to score 15 goals and have 17 assists in two wins over the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres and one over the Washington Capitals. In those five games, David Pastrnak scored his first goal in seven games, Hall had his first two goals as a Bruin, and David Krejci has all of sudden found the back of the net with three goals. Brad Marchand has five goals in the last four games and now has 11 for the month of April.
In past seasons and even early this season, the Bruins have relied on their top-line for production, but since the addition of Hall to the second-line with Krejci and Craig Smith, both lines have been producing, which is a welcomed sight. Smith has been the hottest member of the Bruins as he has six goals and 12 assists in his last 17 games.
Coyle and Richie Struggling
While the top-six forwards are getting hot, two third-line players are struggling. Charlie Coyle and Nick Ritchie have struggled and it looks like it’s taking its toll on both players. Coyle has not scored a goal in his last 22 games, with his last two goals coming on Feb. 28 against the New York Rangers. He has six assists since February and he has five goals and nine assists this season. His struggles recently are being overshadowed by the success of the two lines in front of him.
Ritchie began the season strong for the Bruins in the absence of Pastrnak, who was out following offseason hip surgery, and he currently has 10 goals and 10 assists, but it’s what he has not done lately. In his last 11 games, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound 25-year-old has failed to record a point and was dropped down to the third line with Coyle and Jake DeBrusk following the trade for Hall. His start to the season was promising considering how tough last season was following his trade from the Anaheim Ducks in the regular season and in the Toronto playoff bubble, where he struggled to stay out of the penalty box.
Penalty Kill Remains Hot and Producing
Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are part of the one the top first lines in the league and are also part of the Bruins’ top power play unit. Whenever they are on the ice, they are a threat to score in any situation and now you can add shorthanded as an area where they are producing offensively. Sunday against the Capitals, Bergeron scored his third shorthanded goal of the season, which tied him with Marchand. Over the last four years, the duo has combined for 18 shorthanded goals and has outscored five other teams in the league shorthanded.
In their last five games, the Bruins have killed 21 of their opponents 23 chances. This season the power play has struggled, but the penalty kill still remains one of the Bruins’ strengths and will need to stay near the top of the league the rest of the season.
Marchand Notches Another 20-Goal Season
Not even a shortened 56-game season can slow down Marchand when it comes to scoring goals. In Thursday’s win over the Islanders, Marchand scored his 20th goal of the season, making it the eighth consecutive season that the veteran left wing has had at least 20 goals. Johnny Bucyk scored 20 goals a season for 10 consecutive seasons and Rick Middleton did it for nine straight seasons. Marchand tied former Bruin great Phil Esposito in doing it in eight consecutive seasons.
In Sunday’s win over the Capitals, Marchand sealed the Bruins’ 6-3 victory with an empty-net goal with 1:44 left in the game. The goal was not only the 12-year veterans 23rd of the season, but it was also his 700th career point. He is ninth on the Bruins all-time point list, 13 behind Krejci.
The Week Ahead
- Thursday: at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
- Friday: at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m.
- Sunday: at Pittsburgh Penguins, 3 p.m.
- Tuesday: at Pittsburgh Penguins, 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.