By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21
A complete effort on Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins got the Bruins another win and two more points in the standings. The team’s top-six shined all game and gave the Penguins a battle en route to a 3-1 victory on the scoreboard. Tonight, the Bruins will look to continue their winning ways, with playoff implications getting heavier as the season nears an end. The puck drop for tonight’s home game against the Buffalo Sabres is scheduled for 7 pm EST.
DeBrusk In, Smith Out
Forward Jake DeBrusk sat out his second game of the season as a healthy scratch in Tuesday’s win against the Penguins. The 24-year-old forward has struggled to produce this season while getting chances to play with both David Krejci and Charlie Coyle. Coyle’s slump of his own probably doesn’t help DeBrusk’s chances of cracking his goal drought, but DeBrusk’s play overall this season has spectators questioning his future with the black and gold.
On the season, DeBrusk has just four goals and 11 points in 34 games. The bottom-six group from Tuesday night’s win didn’t produce on the scoresheet but was extremely noticeable on the forecheck with their efforts to have the momentum stay on the Bruins side for most of the night. DeBrusk seemed to be the odd man out, but with Craig Smith sidelined from the lineup tonight, DeBrusk will get another shot to spark something playing with Taylor Hall and David Krejci. He should be able to get going with the opportunity to play with two of the Bruins hottest players, but that remains to be seen.
While defenseman Charlie McAvoy’s presence in the Bruins lineup is extremely noticeable, eating top-man minutes night-in and night-out, he hasn’t produced statistically as he did before the halfway mark of the season. His play hasn’t dropped off per se, but he hasn’t been involved offensively as much as he once was. His transitions from the defensive zone up to the offensive are the most impressive part of the 23-year-old’s game, but those transitions have translated to scarce points as of late.
On the season, McAvoy has 22 assists and 26 points in 44 games to go along with a +/- of 16. Since April 1st, McAvoy has just five assists in 12 games. His numbers aren’t horrible, but his offensive outbreak we saw earlier in the season has gone quiet. The Bruins will need their number one defenseman to continue eating big-time minutes while leading the charge on defense, especially with the playoffs just around the corner.
‘Playoff Krejci’ Incoming
Bruins center David Krejci couldn’t be a happier teammate. Currently playing with trade deadline acquisition Taylor Hall and offseason signing Craig Smith, Krejci has finally found a groove with consistent line-mates. Prior to the Hall trade, Krejci spent much of the season playing with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk, both of whom are struggling to produce on their own. That only brought Krejci down until now.
With the playoffs, just eight games away for the Bruins, Krejci and his line-mates are heating up at just the right time. Krejci has been known to be a consistent performer when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and this year he’s getting juiced up prior. In his last nine games since the Bruins acquired Hall, Krejci has five goals and nine points. Before the trade, Krejci only had two goals in 35 games. Krejci will look to continue his point-per-game stretch tonight after scoring a highlight-reel goal to break the ice in the midst of Tuesday’s win.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Hall – Krejci – DeBrusk
Frederic – Kuraly – Coyle
Ritchie – Lazar – Wagner
Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Reilly – Miller
Lauzon – Clifton