By: Max Weisman | Follow me on Twitter @maweisman
The Bruins entered the month of November with an 8-0-1 record. With one more game to play before the calendar flips to December (Thursday vs. San Jose), they look very different from the team coming off a 3-2 overtime win over the Florida Panthers to end October.
The Bruins have lost three straight games and four of their last five, and none were close. They were outscored 17-8 during this three-game skid by the Red Wings, Rangers, and Blue Jackets. The Bruins have played these last five games in eight days, which could be a part of their sluggishness, but that’s no excuse for what’s been happening early on in these games. The Bruins were down 2-0 in the first against Detroit and New York and 3-0 heading into the third against Columbus.
November started great for the Bruins, a 3-2 shootout win over rival Toronto, and started the month 5-1-1, which makes this losing streak even more surprising. Thanks to their hot start, though, the Bruins still have the second-best record in the league at 14-3-3, and they have a four-point cushion over Florida in the Atlantic Division. They must move on fast from these losses if they want to remain atop their division.
Some aspects of the game the Bruins need to work on are their goaltending, defense, power play, and production from their stars. Obviously, those aren’t the only reasons the Bruins have lost three straight games, but let’s break those down.
The goaltending has not looked sharp in the past week. After starting red hot, goalie Jeremy Swayman has just an .887 save percentage and a 3.49 goals allowed average in his last four starts. Ullmark has been a bit better but has had two bad starts this month, allowing five goals in a loss to Detroit and seven in a loss to the Rangers.
Even during their hot start to the season, which carried into the beginning of November, the Bruins faced adversity. Charlie McAvoy was suspended for the first four games of the month after delivering a dirty hit on Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Due to injuries on defense and the McAvoy suspension, the Bruins called up Ian Mitchell, Parker Wotherspoon, and Mason Lohrei. Facing adversity on, defense the Bruins went 3-1-0 with those three Providence call-ups, with Lohrei impressing.
The power play has also been a part of the Bruins’ month. It might not feel like it, but the Bruins’ power play in November has been better than the season average. The Bruins have a power play percentage of 26.32% this month compared to 22.73% for the season. The issue has been as of late. In the first seven games of November, the Bruins were 8/25 on the power play, good for 32%, but in the last five games, they are only 2/13, which is 15.38%.
The Bruins are lacking production from their leaders as well. Over the last five games, captain Brad Marchand has only one point and none in the previous four games. David Pastrnak is having a very good season with 31 points but has only had two in the last four games. That’s well below his average of over 1.5 points per game.
A 6-3-2 month with one game yet to play isn’t terrible by any means, but the drop in high-quality play by the team over the last week or so and the overall ‘tale of two cities’ month is concerning and needs to be addressed.
The Bruins can right the ship and end November on a high note by beating San Jose on Thursday at home.