By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21
Another disappointing effort from the entire lineup continues the Bruins slump through March into April. The Bruins dropped Thursday’s contest to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 4-1 score, with the lone Bruins goal coming from Brad Marchand. This team needs a bit of a wake-up call before they slip out of playoff spot in arguably the most competitive division this season. Head coach Bruce Cassidy surely had no time to waste doing so, and with major changes looming to the lineup, the team is back at it today against the Penguins once more. The puck drop is scheduled for 1 pm EST.
‘Pasta’ Remains Quiet
While the Bruins have endured a roller coaster of hockey throughout the last month, Bruins forward David Pastrnak’s play has been nearly invisible by the end of it. After missing the first seven games of this season recovering from off-season surgery, ‘Pasta’ came back without missing a beat, notching two hat-tricks in the month of February, both against the Philadelphia Flyers. Since the start of the Bruins game against the New York Islanders on March 25th, Pastrnak has collected one assist and is a -3 over a span of five games.
He had no problems returning to the lineup at the end of January with a bold attitude, but it seems as if he’s gone quiet while the rest of the team struggles too. With 14 goals and 27 points in 26 games this season, Pastrnak and the rest of the Bruins need to get out of the goal-scoring ‘funk’ they find themselves in. Pastrnak is proven to be an elite scorer in the league, potting a career-high 48 goals in 70 games last season. He’ll need to return to his normal self if the Bruins have any success starting today and moving forward.
Injuries on Defense…Again
The Bruins head into today’s game shorthanded on the back end. Staying healthy has been an issue for the Bruins entire team all season long, and their young defense took another hit in Thursday’s loss to the Penguins. Brandon Carlo, who played in his second game since returning from a previous upper-body injury, left early in the game with a different upper-body injury and didn’t return.
While the forward group is expected to change following a disappointing effort on Thursday, so is the defense. With Carlo out and Kevan Miller still not ready to return, Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer is expected to draw back in. Carlo’s absence is a huge blow, but Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk, who both obtained heavy hits in Thursday’s loss, are still leading the defense. That’s one positive to take away, yet the Bruins defense will need to stay solid against a streaking Penguins club with a talented offense.
Following last Tuesday’s shootout win over the Devils, head coach Bruce Cassidy called out the Bruins younger players for not impacting the game. Bruins forward Zach Senyshyn received that message and played with a heavy and intense forecheck against the Penguins last time out, but the rest of the group remained quiet. Players like Senyshyn, Trent Frederic, Jakub Zboril, and Connor Clifton were called out by Cassidy and haven’t produced much statistically since. With their recent struggles continuing, the message is clear that everyone needs to improve their play.
Leaders need to lead, and depth players need to support. It’s been the Bruins struggled all season long. The magic from the Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak line has fizzled out over the last few games, and the rest of the lineup, specifically the young forwards in the bottom-nine, needs to be better. Cassidy emphasized poor puck management in their loss on Thursday, and today’s game will rely heavily on improvements from their unsatisfactory effort last go-around.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Ritchie – Krejci – Pastrnak
Bjork – Kuraly – Coyle
Frederic – Studnicka – Senyshyn
Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Lauzon – Clifton
Zboril – Kampfer