By Dan Cellucci | Follow me @Cellucci_Dan14
The Bruins ended their season-long three-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Penguins on Saturday. While the overall play of the Bruins has been subpar recently, there have been positives seemingly hidden amongst the bad. With only seven games remaining in the regular season, the main concern is getting the injured B’s healthy, but also making sure as many guys as possible are playing their best hockey.
In this week’s Stock Risers & Decliners, there are two names that might not be the most recognizable or selling the most jerseys, but they might be two of the most important players if the Bruins are to make a run in the playoffs. With the good, comes the bad, and this week we highlight one player who has not scored a goal since January. The second decliner is one player’s stick that seems to have a mind of its own, and an eye for the penalty box.
On March 14th, the list of players who would have a significant impact and give the Bruins a jolt of life was long, but did not include the then Boston College Eagle Marc McLaughlin. Signed to an Entry-Level Contract on March 15th, McLaughlin scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game. Seven games later, the North Billerica native is finding more and more ice time at a crucial point in the season.
His competitiveness and effort have been through the roof lately, and it is impossible not to notice him when he is on the ice. With two goals on two shots and a +1 rating over his last three games, McLaughlin’s stock is on the rise, and he has earned his spot in the nightly rotation going forward.
When General Manager Don Sweeney acquired Taylor Hall at last’s trade deadline, there was another player in that deal that may be playing his best hockey of the season. Curtis Lazar may not be a point per game guy, or a point guy at all, but his physicality, mentality, and aggressiveness have kept the Bruins afloat of late.
The fourth line winger has seven hits, one assist, one takeaway, and played significant time on the penalty kill in the last three games. On the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship team, the Bruins had a all-time great fourth line with Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton. Curtis Lazar has been giving off the “prototypical Bruins 4th-liner” vibes and we are all here for it.
While Tomas Nosek’s passing, defensive positioning and ability to take the puck away from the opposition had kept him in the lineup most nights, he has seen his ice time decline and was a healthy scratch for Saturday’s game against the Penguins. The last time that Nosek found the back of the net was January 2nd. Yes, January 2nd and 41 games since his last goal.
That is a streak that could be common for defenseman, but not for a forward. Nosek has lost his playing time and for good reason. Hopefully the time in the press box will give him the break he needs to turn his game around and crack the lineup again this season.
Mike Reilly has had his ups and downs this season. Whether it was his poor defensive play or his lack of offensive abilities that cost him playing time, there seemed to always be something. This time around it is his carelessness with his stick that has fans unsettled when number six is on the ice. In his last five games, Reilly has racked up ten penalty minutes (three high-sticking minors, one cross-check, and one trip).
His only game without a minor penalty was against the St. Louis Blues. His carelessness with his stick could cost him playing time and give him another healthy scratch designation. The Bruins have been far from perfect on the penalty kill of late, and with Reilly in the box more often than not puts the team in a difficult position to win.