Revisiting 5 Bold Bruins’ Player Predictions for 2022-23

As the Boston Bruins close in on the halfway point of the 2022-23 season, they are sitting atop the NHL standings with a 32-4-4 record. There have been many surprising performances to help the Black and Gold reach the top of the standings.

At the beginning of the season, I wrote an article, predicting some player stats for the season. With the Bruins set to play game No. 41 and hit the official halfway point of the season on Jan. 12 against the Seattle Kraken at the TD Garden, let’s take a look at how the predictions are faring.

Jake DeBrusk Scores 30-Plus Goals

After a struggling last two seasons for the Bruins, Jake DeBrusk looked like a different player in training camp after rescinding his trade request over the summer. He was having one of the better bounce-back seasons with 16 goals in 37 games, including the two goals in the third period of a 2-1 Winter Classic win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 2 at Fenway Park. He was well on his way to posting a new career-high than the 27 he had in the 2018-19 season. All the good vibes came to a crashing halt following the Penguins game.

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DeBrusk was spotted wearing a walking boot leaving Fenway Park and on Jan. 4, it was disclosed that he did not join the Bruins on their three-game West Coast trip after fracturing his fibula. What makes it even more impressive is he scored the two goals against Pittsburgh injured. Arguably the Black and Gold’s best forward in all situations in the first half of the season, his injury is a big blow to the team. Unless he goes on a scoring spree whenever he returns, this prediction is in trouble.

Craig Smith Scores 25-Plus Goals

Ah, this one isn’t going very well, at all. After two underperforming seasons after signing a three-year contract in October of 2020, the thought was Smith would have a better season under new coach Jim Montgomery and in a contract year. No such luck.

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

Smith has two goals in 26 games, he has shown frustration multiple times this season in games and he has found himself rotating as a healthy scratch with A.J. Greer on the fourth line. General manager (GM) Don Sweeney has tried to move the former Nashville Predator with no luck. Who knows what the future holds for Smith ahead of the March 3 trade deadline, but this prediction is not looking too good.

David Krejci Records 80-Plus Points

After leaving Boston following the 2020-21 season to return home to his country of Czechia to continue his career, David Krejci returned this season to the Bruins for another season. Filling in the second-line center spot behind Patrice Bergeron was a must this offseason and Krejci’s return does that. This time around, he is surrounded by gifted scorers, something that wasn’t always the case in the past.

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In 35 games this season, Krejci has 11 goals and 20 assists, which only gives him 31 points. He missed three games with an upper-body injury in October and early November, but when he’s been in the lineup, he’s been mostly centering David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha and the trio has formed an instant connection. Krejci has not produced as much as was originally thought but has been as good as the Bruins hoped he would be.

Pavel Zacha Has Career Highs in Goals, Assists, and Points

When the Bruins acquired Pavel Zacha from the New Jersey Devils on July 13, Sweeney got the player he has trying to obtain at previous trade deadlines. A restricted free agent (RFA) when acquired, Zacha agreed to a one-year deal for $3.5 million and like Krejci, he’s been as good and as valuable as the Black and Gold would have hoped.

Pavel Zacha Boston Bruins
Pavel Zacha, Boston Bruins (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

He struggled to find consistency with the Devils, but he has had that in the first half of the season in Boston, mainly playing with Pastrnak and Krejci on the second line. He is on his way to a career-high in assists as he has 20 this season and is four behind the high he set in 2019-20. He has 25 points and needs 12 more to break the high he set last season with 36. Goals will be a little more difficult as he has five and needs 13 more to break the high he had last season. Playing on the second line has helped him so far this season and scoring 13 goals in the second half is not out of the question.

Hampus Lindholm Has Over 30 Assists

When Charlie McAvoy missed the first month and a half of the season, Hampus Lindholm was hands down the best defenseman and carried the load in his partner’s absence. With the Anaheim Ducks, the opportunity for Lindholm to showcase his offensive skills was limited by the roster around him. That has changed in Boston.

Hampus Lindholm Boston Bruins
Hampus Lindholm, Boston Bruins (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Lindholm set a career-high in assists in 2014-15 with 27 and is just five helpers shy of setting a new career-high. Collecting five more assists should not be a problem for the left-shot blueliner as he has assumed duties on the first power play unit, as well as becoming more and more of an offensive defenseman in the flow of the 5-on-5 play.

The first half of the 2022-23 season has been one to remember for the Black and Gold. As they head into the second half with an eye toward the playoffs, some of these predictions have a realistic opportunity to become a reality, while some will come down to the final couple weeks of the regular season. 

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