By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Careful, did you miss it? If you blinked, you may have missed the first half of the 2018-19 NHL season for the Boston Bruins. No, it was not that fast, but it sure went by quickly. Without a doubt, this season has been an interesting one and it is only going to get more interesting from here on out. With Thursday’s win over the Calgary Flames, the Bruins have passed the halfway point of the season – that being their 41st game of 82 on the year.
The Boston Bruins have some great players on the roster, but also some players that have been slacking off on the offensive and defensive side of the puck. Below are the player totals for nearly every player that has played a single game on the Bruins roster before the Sabres game on Saturday.
- David Pastrnak – 41GP – 25-27-52 +3 Rating – Leads team in Goals & Points
- Brad Marchand – 40GP – 15-29-44 +6 Rating – Leads team in Assists
- Patrice Bergeron – 25GP – 13-22-35 +7 Rating – Leads Forwards in +/-
- David Krejci – 41GP – 7-26-33 -2 Rating
- Jake DeBrusk – 32GP – 13-3-36 -6 Rating
- Sean Kuraly – 40GP – 4-6-10 +3 Rating
- Danton Heinen – 39GP – 4-6-10 +2 Rating
- David Backes – 33GP – 3-7-10 -5 Rating
- Ryan Donato – 27GP – 5-3-8 -11 Rating
- Joakim Nordstrom – 39GP – 5-2-7 -4 Rating
- Chris Wagner – 38GP – 4-3-7 -2 Rating
- Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson – 20GP – 3-3-6 -3 Rating
- Colby Cave – 20GP – 1-4-5 -1 Rating
- Noel Acciari – 34GP – 1-1-2 -7 Rating
- Torey Krug – 30GP – 4-22-26 -9 Rating
- Matt Grzelcyk – 39GP – 1-11-12 +5 Rating
- Charlie McAvoy – 17GP – 1-10-11 +4 Rating
- John Moore – 38GP – 2-5-7 -3 Rating
- Zdeno Chara – 22GP – 3-1-4 +3 Rating
- Steven Kampfer – 25GP – 2-1-3 -6 Rating
- Brandon Carlo – 32GP – 1-2-3 +1 Rating
- Kevan Miller – 15GP 0-3-3 +8 Rating
- Jeremy Lauzon – 15GP – 1-0-0 -1 Rating
These are extremely basic when it comes to statistics but they do provide some facts as to how the Bruins have been doing when it comes to individual scoring. With only twenty-five games played, Patrice Bergeron is still over a point-per-game by a considerable amount and he is currently on pace for ninety-two points (if my math is indeed correct), which will clearly drop. The always-Selke candidate leads the forward group in the +/- rating and has a 14-10 takeaway-to-giveaway ratio, keeping up that defensive play.
Pastrnak and Marchand have continued to dominate, even with a slow spell from Marchand earlier in the season. The first line always seems to fall back together, even when Head Coach Bruce Cassidy tries to mix up the lines to spread out the scoring. Speaking about scoring depth, the Bruins have three players with ten points, all of which have played in over thirty games this season.
The Bruins need help from the bottom three lines, even DeBrusk and Krejci need to be more consistent when scoring goals. DeBrusk has gone on cold stretches, but he can bounce back with a two-goal game like he did against Calgary. With another top-six winger, Boston can become a true threat offensively in the Eastern Conference.
On the defensive core, the Bruins should not have that many players with a game played. That list would also include Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, and Connor Clifton, but they all played less than ten games so far. Twelve defencemen from October to January and yet the Bruins have still been decent on the backend.
- Tuukka Rask – 20GP – 19GS – 10-8-2 – 2.63 GAA – .914 SV%
- Jaroslav Halak – 23GP – 22GS – 13-6-2 – 2.36 GAA – .926 SV%
There have been some bad games, but overall, the duo of Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have been solid this season. Halak is fourth in the NHL for best save percentage among goalies with a minimum of fourteen games played and his role as a backup has led to a new tandem in the Bruins crease. Cassidy has gone back-and-forth with who gets the starting job and that is great, but he is most likely looking for one of them to step out and claim the starting job heading into the postseason.
As of January 4th, 2019, the Bruins are the eleventh best team in the National Hockey League with fifty points on the season. Prior to the game against the Sabres, Boston is only four points away from being tied with the Calgary Flames for second-best in the entire NHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning are several strides ahead of the pack, leading the NHL with a 32-7-2 record, good for 66 points so far. Coincidentally, the Bruins are also the eleventh-oldest team in the league, with an average team age of 28.2. The 11th youngest team? The Tampa Bay Lightning.
As mentioned already, the Boston Bruins’ depth scoring has almost been non-existent for the majority of the season and that is on display when you take a browse on the team stats. The Bruins have scored the fifth-least amount of even-strength goals in the league, scoring only 81 times 5-on-5. On the flip side, the Bruins have allowed the second-least amount of 5-on-5 goals, only 76. That makes for a +5 goal differential while at even-strength.
The speciality teams have been possibly the best strength for Boston and may just be the main reason as to why Boston is in the position they are in within the league standings. Boston has thirty-seven goals on the power-play, fourth-most in the NHL, scoring those goals on a 27.82% efficiency. Bruins’ David Pastrnak leads the league for most goals on the PP with twelve so far this year. He is able to use the extra man brilliantly and use it to score goals. On the power-play, however, the B’s are not the best defensively, allowing a league-high nine shorthanded goals.
Boston’s penalty-kill is within the top half of the league, currently sitting at just over an 80% success rate. Unfortunately, the shorthanded goals have not come for the Bruins, only scoring one SH goal that came back on October 4th by Patrice Bergeron. Obviously, shorthanded tallies are not expected nor necessarily required but when you allow the most goals in that category in the entire league, you would like a few in return on other teams.
Following a brief time in the second Wild Card position, the Bruins have battled back to take sole possession of third place in the NHL’s Atlantic Division. At the current moment, the Bruins are in a game against the Buffalo Sabres and that game will decide who holds on to that spot for the time being.
A 23-14-4 record in January is not fantastic but for an injury-riddled team like the Bruins, it is very much acceptable. Boston will need to step up their game and that may end up including a trade for another scoring forward. For more on the Standings Race in the Atlantic Division for the Bruins, make sure to stay tuned for an article by Black N’ Gold writer, Evan Michael (@00EvanMichael on Twitter).
In response to this article, I asked my friends on Twitter about their opinions regarding the Bruins 2018-19 season so far.
Do you agree with the poll results? What was good/bad about the first half of the season for the Boston Bruins and what needs to change as the race for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs truly begin? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj