By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter: @zcarlone21
Consistency is hard to come by in the NHL as it is. The Bruins have had an uphill battle containing it for much of this season. The make-up of their schedule surely doesn’t help as the team is one of two in the league that has played the fewest number of games. The Bruins, now 4-3-0, last played on Saturday night at TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. They won the game in a shootout by a score of 3-2. After a five-day break with no games, the Bruins are finally on the ice for an Atlantic division matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. The puck drop for tonight’s contest is scheduled for 7 pm EST.
Struggling B’s on D
The usual point-producing players are doing a great job of staying consistent. The first line produces at an incredible pace with the chance to be even better, and the second line has found its rhythm with Charlie Coyle at center. Most offense on any good team in the NHL starts with smart breakouts and smooth transitions from the defense. The Bruins defense has been lacking in that perspective, not being heavily involved in offensive production. Whatever defensive pair skates out with the first line on any given shift with the Bruins first line is bound for some offensive zone time, but the production among the six defensemen is still concerning thus far.
The six regulars on the Bruins blue line have a combined two goals and five assists on the season through seven games. Three of those points come from right-handed defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Shockingly, Matt Grzelcyk, arguably the Bruins’ most offensive-minded defenseman aside from McAvoy, has no points through seven games, even playing with McAvoy as his defensive partner. It’s strange and unusual, but the points will come with better transitions and zone time for the Bruins. Defenseman Brandon Carlo is also pointless through seven.
Swaying in the Wind
Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark has been solid this season and head coach Bruce Cassidy is giving him a well-earned night off for tonight’s game. Ullmark is 3-1-0 thus far this season. Cassidy has elected to start Ullmark on Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, making Jeremy Swayman tonight’s go-to goaltender. It’ll be an interesting battle for Swayman, who hasn’t played as complete of a game as we saw during times last season. He’ll be going up against the Red Wings offense that is averaging 2.90 goals per game.
The 22-year-old goaltender has had a sub-par opening to the 2021-22 season. Swayman owns a 1-2-0 record along with a 2.71 GAA and a .893 save percentage. Those numbers aren’t good by any means, but more starts consistently for the Alaska native should bolster them. Swayman was due for a decline after his impressive debut last season, but he only surrendered three losses in ten appearances last season. He already has two in three appearances this season. There’s obviously no need to panic just yet as he needs to start to develop as a young goaltender. A win tonight, though, would boost his confidence between the pipes.
More Out of Four
The Bruins fourth line struggled for large portions of last year’s shortened season. Upsettingly, it seems to be continuing into this season with even a new look. The Bruins let Sean Kuraly walk to free agency last offseason and signed Thomas Nosek to take his spot. Nosek’s arrival pin-points the lack of scoring the Bruins had last season, and he already has a goal and an assist. The Bruins need more out of Trent Frederic, Curtis Lazar, and Karson Kuhlman however.
Frederic has one assist and a +/- of -1 through seven games this season. Lazar, who has switched spots with Kuhlman between the third and fourth line, has one assist in the three games he’s played. Kuhlman has one goal through seven games as well. It’s early on, and like the other struggling players, there’s no need to panic just yet. I think Frederic needs to bring his offensive game to the NHL level for this line to be at full force, so capitalizing against the porous Red Wings defense, led by young stand-out Moritz Seider, may be in store for ‘Freddy’ and the Bruins fourth line tonight.
Bruins Projected Lines
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Hall – Coyle – Smith
DeBrusk – Haula – Lazar
Frederic – Nosek – Kuhlman
Forbort – McAvoy
Grzelcyk – Carlo
Reilly – Clifton