(Photo Credit: Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) 

By: Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter / X @adbblue

Through 32 games in their Centennial season, the Boston Bruins are 19-7-6 and first in the Atlantic Division with 44 points. Although they have again been one of the top teams in the league this year, they have struggled as of late. They have lost four straight games and six of their last eight. 

The team has been playing uncharacteristic hockey and has gotten away from details they almost always do well. There has also been a lack of production from players who were more consistent earlier in the season. As a result, the absence of David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron is slowly becoming prevalent.

Charlie Coyle got off to a hot start for Boston and currently has 21 points, tied for third on the team. However, in his last 12 games, he has just two points and is a combined -4. It’s a large difference from the first 20 games, but Coyle does remain solid in the face-off circle and a good penalty-killer.

The rookie Matt Poitras has also slowed down, perhaps not being used to a heavy NHL schedule. The 19-year-old has seen his playing time decrease, being benched and scratched multiple times this month. He is currently playing for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships and will return to the Bruins following the tournament. 

Jake DeBrusk has also underachieved in the point production department. He currently has 4-7-11 in 31 games. He does all the little things right and is a big part of the team’s penalty kill. However, not having the option to play with Bergeron or Krejci has hindered his offensive production. 

It is the biggest thing the Black and Gold miss with their former top two centers. Their ability to make other players better, which we saw both guys do throughout their careers. Propelling several players to exceed expectations. That’s no knock on the centers they have now, but that’s just how special the Krejci and Bergeron were. 

Another area where the two are missed is the possession game. Both guys were very proficient at that face-off dot, resulting in their team having the puck more frequently. This year, the Bruins have a team face-off win percentage of 50.3%, 17th in the league. Last season, they were second in the league at 54.5%. Bergeron had a career win percentage of 58.9%, and Krejci had 50.8%. Losing that is definitely going to leave a dent.

Patrice Bergeron is also arguably the greatest defensive forward in the league’s history, having won six Selke Trophies, the most all-time. It’s obviously going to be very difficult to replace that, but it has noticeably been a factor. Several times this season, the Bruins have had difficulty getting the puck out of their own end. It has caused them to allow the tying goal with the opponent’s extra attacker on the ice on multiple occasions. 

Both Krejci and Bergeron are also missed on the power play. The Bruins are currently 24.5% on the power-play, which is seventh in the league. But, it has been very streaky and often lacked continuity. Boston doesn’t incorporate the bumper position as much anymore as we Bergeron mastered for years. There also isn’t as much fluidity in the puck movement without Krejci, who was so effective at completing passes in seemingly nonexistent passing lanes. 

Undoubtedly, not having the two former Stanley Cup Champions was going to catch up to them at some point, and it’s been shown recently. That’s not to say, though, that this team is doomed. They’re still a very good, well-coached hockey team with a solid roster. But as the season goes on, Jim Montgomery’s squad will have to dig deep and stay focused.