By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Another month down, another month to look ahead to. In this, the final month of 2018, the Boston Bruins performed without key players such as Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and Jake DeBrusk to still remain in a playoff position as of their most recent win over the Buffalo Sabres on the 29th of December.
In this third 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
In fourteen games this month, the Bruins finished with a record of 7-7-0, with two of those wins coming in the overtime session. Within the seven victories, the Bruins had some really solid outings and in this section, I’ll briefly highlight those victorious moments for the Bruins in the twelfth month of the year.
December 8th/18 – vs Toronto Maple Leafs
For the third time in two months, the two Original Six franchises whose rivalry has blossomed over the course of the past half-decade or so. In this Saturday night game vs the Maple Leafs in Boston, the Bruins walked away with a 6-3 win against a Leafs team that had Matthews, Marner, Nylander, and Andersen in net, well for a time at least.
Boston scored four straight goals from the first period to the third from Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, David Backes, Torey Krug, and Danton Heinen. Boston outshot Toronto 15-9 in the second period alone and seemed to have all control. After Travis Dermott’s goal made it 4-1, the B’s answered with goals from Krejci and Donato to extend the lead to 6-1. The Leafs added two more late but that would be it.
Brad Marchand and Torey Krug had three points, David Pastrnak, Danton Heinen, and David Krejci all had two points and Jaroslav Halak made twenty-nine saves in the win. All around great performance for the Bruins without key players like Bergeron, DeBrusk, and Chara in the lineup.
December 17th/18 – vs Montreal Canadiens
Ah, the good old Montreal/Boston rivalry. It is rare to have a more successful night then when you defeat Montreal in the Bell Centre while scoring four goals and allowing none against. That’s what happened on December 17th in a 4-0 Bruins win over the Habs.
Joakim Nordstrom scored his fifth of the season, Colby Cave scored his first career NHL goal, David Krejci added his sixth of 2018-19, and Brad Marchand scored number eleven for four unanswered tallies past goaltender Carey Price. McAvoy and Pastrnak each had two-point nights while Jaroslav Halak stopped all twenty-two shots that faced him during the sixty regulation minutes.
The Bruins needed this win after two losses beforehand, making this one even sweeter, ending the losing streak and starting a new one that would last for the next two games.
December 22nd/18 – vs Nashville Predators
At the time, the Predators were near the top of the National Hockey League standings and were building momentum as they attempt to have another successful season. When the two teams met on the twenty-second of December, it was not supposed to be an easy game for either team, especially the Bruins.
However, off of the hands of four points (two goals, two assists) by Patrice Bergeron who returned to the lineup after a sternoclavicular/rib injury that kept him out of action for an extended amount of time. Bergeron’s linemates, Marchand and Pastrnak had three points of their own – leading the Bruins to a 5-2 win over Nashville in the TD Garden. In addition, Halak made twenty-eight saves, including fourteen in the second frame alone.
The Not-So-Good Games
It is expected that when you finish a calendar month with a .500 win percentage, you’re going to have some rough outings. Like other teams in that scenario, the Bruins had some rough games that they themselves may want to forget about. No real blowouts, but some poor overall team performances.
December 27th/18 – vs New Jersey Devils
Only two games ago, the Bruins had one of their worst games so far in the 2018-19 campaign. The Devils beat Boston by a final score of 5-2, which is not too bad all things considered, but the whole group seemed disoriented and failed to generate many offensive opportunities throughout the entirety of the three-period hockey game.
The opening Devils goal only twenty-five seconds into the game brought the momentum down immediately for Boston as both teams played their first game after the Holiday Break. New Jersey added another before the first intermission and scored three times in the final regulation frame to put out Boston.
Chris Wagner’s second-period goal and Patrice Bergeron’s third-period marker were the only two goals from Boston, but other than that, it was a lacklustre outing for the men in Black n Gold. Halak allowed four goals on thirty-two shots, not a terrible night for him, but could have been better most definitely.
December 4th/18 – vs Florida Panthers
The only thing worse than allowing five goals in a hockey game is when you allow five goals and score none for yourself. In only the second game of the month, the Bruins laid an egg against the divisional opponent, allowing four goals in the middle period and letting the Panthers win 5-0.
Mike Hoffman scored twice for Florida while Mike Matheson, Jonathon Huberdeau, and Evgenii Dadonov added the other three. Goalie Roberto Luongo stopped every single one of the thirty-three shots that the Bruins offence piled on him, making him look way younger than 39 years of age.
Good: David Pastrnak – 4 Goals, 15 Assists, 19 Points in 14 Games
Nevermind good, this is great. Pastrnak once again took ahold of the Bruins offence and ran with it. Even zero points in four of the fourteen games this month did not slow down his production. Pastrnak was without Bergeron for the majority of the month but still managed to rack up the points with fellow countryman, David Krejci.
David is twelfth in the NHL for points and eighth in the NHL for most goals scored, six behind Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.
Bad: Joakim Nordstrom – 14 Games Played, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, -7 Rating
Brought onto the Bruins in the 2018 offseason on a two-year contract worth $1 million per season, Joakim Nordstrom was supposed to add additional scoring to the offensive depth charts, but in December especially, Nordstrom has failed to do that. After a seven-game pointless streak to start the month, he scored in two consecutive games and has not scored for the last five games.
Somehow, Nordstrom has met his totals for last season, 5-2-7, in 37 fewer games. Joakim has three more goals than he had last year but with his lack of production lately, it is hard to understand why he remains in the lineup over some of the Providence Bruins players that are doing well this year.
Good: Patrice Bergeron – 4 Games Played, 3 Goals, 2 Assists, 5 Points, +2 Rating
Bergeron only played four times in December, but his return from injury made a large impact on the Bruins roster. His four-point night against the Predators proved he was still in prime form and his linemates of Pastrnak and Marchand have benefited from his reemergence on the offensive core.
Patrice continues to be one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL today, even with his increasing age and the reoccurring injuries over the past few seasons. Hopefully, a healthy Bergeron can lead the Bruins once again to a successful second-half of the regular season and into the playoffs.
Bad: Jaroslav Halak – 4-3-0 Record, 0.916 SV%, 2.71 GAA
Those numbers are not terrible, but they are not at the same level as the Jaroslav Halak that played in November and October. Halak allowed three or more goals in a single game on four different occasions this month, including five goals against the Panthers. Halak did, however, record a shutout against the Canadiens on the 17th.
The not-great play of Halak could have been the main reason for Cassidy’s decision to start Tuukka Rask over him for the 2019 Winter Classic. Although Rask has a worse record with numbers slightly worse than Halak, with the win over Buffalo for Rask, Cassidy went with Tuukka.
Good: Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Jake DeBrusk
Bad: David Backes, Noel Acciari, Tuukka Rask
Injury Report (As of December 31st)
D Charlie McAvoy – Lower-body – IR
The Bruins are healthy again, for now anyway. Only Charlie McAvoy is injured currently due to a blocked shot that isn’t healing the best. He will miss the Winter Classic. Brad Marchand has been day-to-day for the Bruins but is deemed good-to-go for the Bruins against Chicago. The injuries have been a huge blow for the team this year and to have some of these key players slowly return to the lineup, it is great to see.
Tuesday, Jan. 1st – vs Chicago Blackhawks (Winter Classic)
Thursday, Jan. 3rd – vs Calgary Flames
Saturday, Jan. 5th – vs Buffalo Sabres
Tuesday, Jan. 8th – vs Minnesota Wild
Thursday, Jan. 10th – vs Washington Capitals
Saturday, Jan. 12th- at Toronto Maple Leafs
Monday, Jan. 14th – vs Montreal Canadiens
Wednesday, Jan. 16th – at Philadelphia Flyers
Thursday, Jan. 17th – vs St. Louis Blues
Saturday, Jan. 19th vs New York Rangers
Tuesday, Jan. 29th vs Winnipeg Jets
Thursday, Jan. 31st vs Philadelphia Flyers
The Boston Bruins have twelve games on the upcoming schedule to start of 2019, including nine games in the TD Garden. Boston’s week-long break takes place from January 20th to January 26th. With some big games against Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg, and of course, the Winter Classic game against Chicago, the Bruins will have their work cut out for them but it will make for some fun games for us fans to enjoy.