It’s been said before—this Boston Bruins team will score a lot of goals. And so far, they have. Before Tuesday’s game, the Bruins had scored 20 goals in their last five games. Then, they added six more in one night, shutting out the Arizona Coyotes, 6-0.
Something needed to change with this Bruins team. Winners of their last two games and picking up 9 out of possible 10 points in their last five, the Bruins have begun to tighten up their defensive game without sacrificing much on the other side of the puck. Eight games into the season and the Bruins are the second highest scoring team in the NHL with 33 goals.
Of course, David Krejci is having one of the best starts of his career with points in each of the Bruins first eight games and a 7-7–14 line that puts him near the top of the NHL’s scoring leader board. Both Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson have 9 points in 8 games, too, but it’s more than just the regulars carrying the Bruins’ offensive load. Several new Bruins are contributing and beginning to make the most out of their opportunity in Boston.
In Tuesday’s game alone, three of the most prominent new Bruins made quite the impact.
Offseason acquisitions Jimmy Hayes (1-2–3) and Matt Beleskey (0-2–2) had a multi-point game while Brett Connolly—added late last season but only played a handful of games due to injury—scored a goal, his third in three straight. The trio whose arrival signaled a change in the Bruins core is starting to heat up.
“All the new faces that were maybe hesitating at first are now feeling more comfortable and more confident with what they need to do,” said Bruins Coach Claude Julien. “When you take hesitation out of your game, everybody on the ice benefits from it.”
The production also speaks to the Bruins’ depth on their top three lines. With Bergeron, Krejci, and Ryan Spooner anchored down the middle, the wings are almost interchangeable. And they mostly have been so far.
Tuesday night saw the debut of a third line of Beleskey-Spooner-Hayes for the first time this season, with Connolly playing permanently with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. While speed could have been an issue for the trio, the line was one of the most effective in the game. Beleskey’s aggressiveness and determination was on show best when he stayed with an errant pass and fired a shot on net, where Hayes was parked to bury a rebound home.
Julien credited this to have an impact on both sides of the game.
“I think guys are a little more assertive in all areas, whether it’s defensively or offensively and guys are starting to feel more comfortable,” said Julien. “The key right now is to build on these kind of wins and to build on these kind of games where you’re doing a lot of good things and continue to try and improve as a hockey club.”
With Connolly, a quick shuffle of the lines has him on the right side of Bergeron on the Bruins’ top line. After being a healthy scratch, Connolly responded with three goals in his last three games making the most of his opportunity.
“When I’m with those guys, I’m just trying to be hard on the forecheck and get open,” said Connolly. “Those are two guys that are very consistent. They work hard every shift and you got to match that every shift. They’re two guys that have been in the league a long time and won. Two guys I obviously look up to and I want to give them my best game every time I’m on the ice.
“It’s helped me for sure playing with those guys.”
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Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins’ home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno.