By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
It feels like just last week that I published the monthly recap for October, but here we are again for the recap of November – the second month of the 2018-19 NHL regular season. With the passing of American Thanksgiving, the National Hockey League has seemingly passed the quarter-mark of the season and the games played begin to really matter for possible playoff contention.
In this second instalment of Bruins Monthly Recap, we will take a closer look at the surprises, disappointments, and positives of the eleventh calendar month including the best performances, worst games, injury report, and finally, a prediction of the month to follow. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
The Good Games
The Boston Bruins played in thirteen games during the month of November, finishing the month with a record of 7-4-2. The Bruins had six games at TD Garden, going 5-1-0 at home. In the remaining seven games on the road, Boston went 2-3-2 – a subpar record to say the least.
November 10th/18 – vs Toronto Maple Leafs
The first of two meetings against the Maple Leafs this season was also the biggest margin for a Bruins win this month, with the Bruins taking a 5-1 victory on home ice. The Leafs were without Auston Matthews, who was placed on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury and the Leafs also decided to play Garret Sparks instead of starting goaltender Frederik Andersen against Boston.
David Pastrnak scored a hat-trick and an assist, Bergeron had three points and Marchand chipped in with another two points. Tuukka Rask took a leave of absence, but Jaroslav Halak filled in with ease, making forty saves on forty-one Maple Leafs shots. Also, four Bruin defencemen played over twenty minutes (John Moore, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Matt Grzelcyk).
A great win for the Bruins in the first game against Toronto this season, especially coming off of an eight-five loss to the Vancouver Canucks only two nights before.
November 11th/18 vs Vegas Golden Knights
The very next day, the Bruins had another solid outing against the defending Stanley Cup Finalists, the Vegas Golden Knights, winning by a score of 4-1. The Bruins had goals from Danton Heinen, Jeremy Lauzon, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak. Playing in both games on the back-to-back, Jaro Halak made 37 saves on 38 Golden Knight shots to only allow two goals in two games in two days.
Boston also went 58% on the faceoff dot, including Patrice Bergeron’s 64% on the dot in that game.
The Not-So-Good Games
Boston lost a combined six games in November and a couple of them were not very good. While there were no 7-0 losses like in October, (I’m sorry for bringing that up again), but the Bruins still had some poor outings – even with all of the injuries suffered.
November 14th/18 – at Colorado Avalanche
It was a battle of the two top lines in the National Hockey League when the Avalanche met the Bruins in Colorado on the fourteenth. Even though Gabriel Landeskog opened the scoring about halfway into the first period, the Bruins scored two in the same period – David Pastrnak’s 17th goal and Jake DeBrusk’s 6th goal.
Only 3:05 into the middle frame, DeBrusk would score his seventh on the season – second of the game and the Bruins had a 3-1 lead. When Mikko Rantanen scored in the same period, the Bruins still had a 3-2 lead. However, the Avalanche exploded in the third, scoring four unanswered goals to win 6-3 the final score.
Boston’s weakest point in this game was the penalty-kill – going 0-for-3 in the game. The final two Colorado goals were power-play goals as well as the one goal for them in the second frame. Boston did manage to score two goals on the man-advantage themselves, but it was losing that 3-1 lead that may have been the biggest disappointment of this hockey game.
November 8th/18 – vs Vancouver Canucks
This game was not good for one main reason – goals allowed. The Canucks managed to score eight goals on the Bruins – five on Halak and three on Rask. The game seemed to be going okay for the B’s coming out of the opening period, but they seemed to lack intensity.
With Patrice Bergeron’s eighth goal of the season coming only thirty-six seconds into the second frame, the Bruins took a 2-1 lead and started to look a tad bit better. Seven goals combined later, and the Bruins are headed into the second intermission down 6-4. DeBrusk and Krejci managed to finish the night with three points each, but the overall effort by the defence and goaltending was abysmal and was not a good game heading into their first meeting with Toronto.
Good: David Pastrnak – 8 Goals, 5 Assists, 13 Points in 13 Games
Not a surprise, but David Pastrnak continued to prove that he is an elite player in this league by scoring another eight goals and thirteen points while playing in all thirteen games during the month of November. Pastrnak is currently tied with Jeff Skinner of the Buffalo Sabres for most goals in the league so far, with nineteen as of November 30th.
Pastrnak’s best performance came on the tenth of the month when he scored three goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the recent loss of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak has taken the reigns of the team offensively – somehow scoring on a consistent basis game in and game out.
Bad: Anders Bjork – 1 Assist, -4 Rating, Sent to AHL
It has been a tough season for Anders Bjork this year. Coming into the year as one of the biggest hopefuls on the Bruins forward core and was one of the players that were expected to have a good season to start off. However, that was not the case whatsoever.
With one goal back in October, Bjork only added one more assist in ten games during November, before he was sent down to the Providence Bruins in hopes of him possibly developing his game enough to come back in the big leagues later on down the line – similar to Ryan Donato in recent memory.
Good: Tuukka Rask – 3-1-2 Record, .933 SV%, 1.96 GAA
Last month, Tuukka Rask was under the “bad” column for the Individual Performances section. Rask possessed a 3-3-0 record with a .902 save percentage and a 3.15 goals-against-average. This month, Rask has turned it around and become one of the better goaltenders in the league as he is paid to be.
As many people know, Rask is a touchy subject in Boston sports, but you cannot deny his recent play as being solid. In the final game of November, Rask made twenty-eight saves in regulation and overtime plus another four in the shootout to lead the Bruins to a 2-1 shootout win over the New York Islanders. Rask made three big saves in the 3-on-3 overtime session to keep the Bruins in it and he truly looks solid in between the pipes.
Bad: Danton Heinen – 13 Games Played, 2 Goals, -3 Rating
One of the issues all season long for the Boston Bruins has been the depth scoring, or lack thereof and Danton Heinen has not helped the cause. With only two goals, (Nov.11 vs VGK & Nov.8 vs VAN), Heinen is on an eight-game pointless streak and has been a -1 rating in the past two games.
Heinen had a solid 47-point campaign in his rookie career last year and many believed that he would ride off of that success coming into this season. Unfortunately for him and the team, Heinen has not been able to succeed at the level the Bruins need him to. With the injury to Bergeron, Boston needs Heinen more than ever so the dependence on Pastrnak and Marchand can be relieved a tad.
Good: Jaroslav Halak, Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Torey Krug
Bad: Sean Kuraly, Noel Acciari, Steven Kampfer
Injury Report (As of November 30th)
D Charlie McAvoy – Concussion – IR; Practicing In Non-Contact
D Urho Vaakanainen – Concussion – IR
D Brandon Carlo – Upper-Body – IR; Probable Sat. vs DET
D Zdeno Chara – Left MCL Injury – IR –
C Patrice Bergeron – Sternoclavicular Injury – IR
D Kevan Miller – Larnyx Injury – To Be Re-Evaluated In 5 Weeks
The injuries have not let up in the month of hockey since the previous Bruins Monthly Recap article. Five of the six defensemen that were supposed to start the year in the defensive unit are all out of the lineup with injuries with Kevan Miller being the most-recent injury to the roster. Miller took a shot by Maple Leafs forward John Tavares to the throat, causing damage to the cartilage in his larynx.
Saturday, Dec. 1st – vs Detroit Red Wings
Tuesday, Dec. 4th – at Florida Panthers
Thursday, Dec. 6th – at Tampa Bay Lightning
Saturday, Dec. 8th – vs Toronto Maple Leafs
Sunday, Dec. 9th – at Ottawa Senators
Tuesday, Dec. 11th – vs Arizona Coyotes
Friday, Dec. 14th – at Pittsburgh Penguins
Sunday, Dec. 16th – vs Buffalo Sabres
Monday, Dec. 17th – at Montreal Canadiens
Thursday, Dec. 20th – vs Anaheim Ducks
Saturday, Dec. 22nd – vs Nashville Predators
Sunday, Dec. 23rd – at Carolina Hurricanes
Thursday, Dec. 27th – vs New Jersey Devils
Saturday, Dec. 29th – at Buffalo Sabres
Right off the tails of a difficult month, the Bruins will have another tough month in December with games against teams such as Tampa Bay, Toronto, Nashville, Carolina, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh. Boston will also have their three-day break for Christmas. Out of the fourteen scheduled games in December, seven are at home and seven are on the road making for an interesting schedule moving forward.