( Photo Credit: Francois Lacasse /NHLI via Getty Images )

By: Joey Lizotte | Follow me @lizotte_joey

The time has come for the 2022 Boston Bruins 7th player Award. This annual award is voted upon by Bruins fans to the Bruin, who has performed above expectations and would take on the role of an unsung hero. Just before puck drop vs. the Panthers Tuesday night, we saw five Bruins take home end-of-the-year awards.

Nick Foligno won the John P. Bucyk Award; presented to the Bruin with the most off-ice contributions. Charlie McAvoy won the Eddie Shore Award; presented to the Bruin, who demonstrated exceptional hustle and determination. Finally, the three stars go to who else but Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. The 7th Player Award will be presented before Thursday night’s game vs. the Buffalo Sabres.

My take – Erik Haula

( Photo Credit: The Associated Press )

When the bruins picked up a solid depth piece in forward Erik Haula during this past offseason, at first, I thought it was a great pick-up by GM Don Sweeney that would provide a huge boost to a much-needed top six for the Bruins. However, going into the all-star break, Haula posted a stat line of 5G-10A in 40 games played. To speak for all Bruins fans, this was not going in the right direction, and obviously, there had to be more left in the tank for the Bruins forward.

It is now two games from the end of the regular season, and Haula has bumped up to take the second line center spot for this Bruins team. He has worked wonders quickly, developing much-needed chemistry with linemates Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak, as it has boosted their play as well. Haula now has a stat line of 18G-44A in 77 games played. The second-line center has only totaled more points (55) during the 17-18 season with the Vegas Golden Knights. Haula has taken his game so far up a notch and not only has helped himself but has done wonders for this entire Bruins team.

Haula’s numbers don’t necessarily jump off the screen good, but when you look at his career numbers, he is on an excellent pace right now to help out this Bruins team in the playoffs. After losing second-line center David Krejci, the hunt immediately started to find out who would take the elite players’ spot.

After many options, I do not think anyone expected Haula to fill the large shoes of Krejci. To other opponents, Haula may not be the target player to look out for, but that’s what makes this Bruins team so dangerous. It is their under-the-radar depth at each position as Butch Cassidy has scrambled through lines trying to find that spark in one player’s game that ultimately leads to others finding their own spark.

A prime example of this was Jake DeBrusk. The left-shot forward struggled all year early on, but with one switch to the top line, he has found his game next to Marchand and Bergeron, which has also sparked the production of Hall and Pastrnak on that second line with Haula.

With playoff hockey on the horizon, the Bruins have found their swagger and are trending in the right direction at the most important time of the year.

Don’t forget to cast your vote for the 2022 NESN 7th Player Award here.