By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter: @andrewtaverna
As you very likely know by now, Brad Marchand has been suspended for three games coming off an incident involving Oliver Ekman-Larsson during Sunday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. The Bruins will take on the Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, and the Tampa Bay Lightning during that three-game suspension. For those games, the Bruins will need a new left-winger to play with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Looking at the Bruins depth chart, the options are Taylor Hall, Erik Haula, Jack DeBrusk, Nick Foligno, Tomas Nosek, and Anton Blidh. While all of these are theoretical possibilities, we’re going to look at my top-3.
Taylor Hall, when he joined the Bruins, last season was criticized by many for his up and down career. That said, since joining the Boston Bruins, Hall has either been playing really well at near a point-per-game or at least average. During his first 18 games this season, Hall has five goals and five assists for a total of 10-points. His lackluster performance on the defensive side has been of some concern this season with a minus-2 rating, but when you’re playing with a centerman like Patrice Bergeron, that might be less of a problem. Taylor Hall is the rational number one choice for filling in that gap for the next three games.
This likely caught you off-guard a bit, as Haula has had a less than stellar start to this NHL season. Haula sat on the ninth floor for the last game because his stat line has been entirely unimpressive. Let’s dig in a bit. Yes, Haula does have one more penalty minute than points this season with only one goal and two assists for a total of three points. His minus-5 rating is also a concern as he’s become a defensive liability while on the ice. With that said, Haula can be a much better player than that, and the Bruins need him to be if they stand a chance at making a run for the Cup this year. In the best-case scenario, playing with talents like Bergeron and Pastrnak gives him that missing spark. Worst case scenario, those guys have to cover for him a bit, and you try someone else the next time. You would probably rather have Haula playing center, but at the end of the day, this might be the spark to the game we’re all looking for, including the coaching staff.
The 26-year-old, Sweedish native has spent the last six seasons plus the current season with the Boston Bruins organization. He is not going to be able to play in the game against Detroit due to an upper-body injury, but it is possible he could be available later in the week. During his time with the team, he has played 47 total games, with the big club tallying only three goals and three assists, totaling six points. While his time with the big club usually has been average at best, his effort and work ethic have been apparent in his nine games this season. In addition to the effort, he has scored one goal, two assists, and has an even plus-minus. Playing with the big boys seems like a well-deserved opportunity for a guy who’s been trying to become an NHL regular for several years now.
Bonus: Jake DeBrusk
It is doubtful that DeBrusk gets a look here, considering the most recent news of his request for a trade from the team. That said if you are the Boston Bruins and you want to excite the eight teams that have already inquired about the winger, then maybe letting him show some flashes of success wouldn’t be a bad thing. At this point, it’s unlikely the value of DeBrusk will be very high, but having him go-off for three games would certainly be a big boost in that trade value.
In all likelihood, the guy you’ll see start in that slot is Taylor Hall, but some of these other options could be fun too.