By Andrew Thompson Twitter: @Godwentwhoops
The Boston Bruins found themselves in the playoffs after a two-year hiatus from the postseason. While it was great to see that happen, the Black and Gold only managed to get there in the final week of the regular season, and they found themselves out in the first round.
If the Black and Gold want to find themselves in a deeper run than last year, they’re going to need more of their players playing their ‘A’ game. This includes a big bounce-back season from two of their forwards: David Backes and Matt Beleskey.
The Boston Bruins were looking for a big-bodied power forward before the start of last season. They had hoped they would have gotten that with Jimmy Hayes, but that didn’t go as the B’s had hoped. So, they went out and wooed away David Backes from the St. Louis Blues.
The Boston Bruins were looking for a big-bodied power forward before the start of last season. They had hoped they would have gotten that with Jimmy Hayes, but that didn’t go as the B’s had hoped. So, they went out and wooed away Backes from the St. Louis Blues.
Backes had a semi-disappointing year with the Black and Gold. The 33-year old forward put up just 0.51 points-per-game. While other players did much worse (Hayes again), that marked his lowest average since 2007-08 (0.43), his first full season in the NHL.
To be fair to Backes, he didn’t exactly have things go his way in his first year as a Bruin. Backes was a natural center but played very few games at that position (Mainly because the Bruins are center-heavy, and it’s highly unlikely that Backes would take the center job away from either David Krejci or Patrice Bergeron.) Backes spent part of the season on the right wing of the Krejci line but didn’t seem to have much chemistry with the veteran Czech center.
By the end of the year, Backes found some chemistry in the Bruins top line. He played with Bergeron and Brad Marchand and finished the season with 38 points (17 goals) in 74 games.
If the Bruins want to see points from Backes, then the Bruins should keep him with Bergeron and Marchand at the start of the season.
Backes did well with Marchand and Bergeron. The chemistry was there last year, so why muck it up? Also, the Bruins know that the ‘Double Czech’ line of Pastrank and Krejci were solid. It certainly makes sense to keep them together, and it also spreads out the firepower among the B’s top-six forwards.
Then there is the case of Matt Beleskey.
Beleskey earned himself the respect of the fans for being the kind of player that Jimmy Hayes was supposed to be. In his first season with the B’s, Beleskey played a Milan Lucic type of game (without all the fighting majors). During the 2015-16 season, the former Duck forward put up a respectable 37 points (15 goals), good enough to be tied for sixth in scoring that year.
Last season was certainly rough for Beleskey. The 29-year old forward started out slow, and then was hampered by a knee injury. Beleskey spent the next 24 games on injured reserve while he recuperated. Beleskey continued to struggle after his return to the lineup and found himself as a healthy scratch more times than any player wanted.
Beleskey finished the season with eight points (three goals) over 49 games.
Beleskey desperately needs a serious bounce back year as well. He’ll likely start the season as a middle-six winger. Two years ago, Beleskey found some chemistry with the Double Czech line. He’ll have to fight hard in camp to earn that position again.
If Beleskey can return to his 2015-16 game, then he’ll certainly help the B’s down the stretch as they try to become Stanley Cup Contenders again.