Bruins Halak Finishing up Elite First Half of Season

Jaroslav-Halak-Bruins(Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara, USA Today Sports)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

When the Boston Bruins signed Jaroslav Halak as a free agent this offseason, he wasn’t really expected to be anything beyond a serviceable backup. He signed a two-year contract worth $5.5 million with the Bruins, while Anton Khudobin left to sign with the Dallas Stars for two-years and $5 million. The Bruins shelled out a bit more money for Tuukka Rask’s backup for this season, but Halak provided a nice veteran option to play whenever Rask needed a rest.

Halak has played some of the very best hockey of his career and been a pleasant surprise for a team that has suffered through a lot of bad luck with injuries. The official halfway point of the season is right around the corner, and Halak definitely needs to be discussed among the potential Vezina Trophy candidates. He leads the league with a .928 save percentage and is fifth with 2.28 goals against average, although his biggest impediment to being taken as seriously as possible for the award is his relative lack of playing time. Halak has played in 22 games this season while splitting time in net with Rask and has gone 12-6-2 in 21 starts.

His stats are impressive, but he hasn’t been leaned on as his squad’s workhouse this season due to the Bruins depth chart situation. It’s a luxury to have two very capable goaltending options, but it probably means that neither one would get the proper due in terms of that Vezina Trophy by the end of the season. A lot of his chances for the award are going to be based on whether the Bruins coaching staff begins giving him significantly more starts over Rask in the second half of the season. Even with the elite statistics in categories like save percentage and goals against average, it’s likely going to take Halak getting more starts to win the Vezina Trophy.

The last 10 Vezina winners in non-lockout shortened seasons illustrate a pretty clear picture of what Halak needs to get to. In terms of wins, the fewest amount by a Vezina winner in the last 10 non-lockout shortened season is 35. The highest win total is 48. The average is about 41. The lowest goals against average by a Vezina winner in the last 10 non-lockout shortened season is 1.96 goals against average. The highest is 2.31 goals against average, and the average is about 2.10 goals against average. The highest save percentage by a Vezina winner in the last 10 non-lockout shortened season is a .938 save percentage. The lowest is a .920 save percentage, and the average is about a .929 save percentage.

Halak has a save percentage right now that is just about average for what a Vezina winner has put up recently. Even with the goals against average a bit on the high side, it’s still not the highest amongst the recent winners. The wins are the biggest problem for him right now, though, but that’s to be expected given that his goaltending partner is getting so many starts. Tim Thomas won the Vezina with 35 wins back in 2010-11, but he still ranked tied for ninth that season in that category. Halak is tied for 18th in wins right now, and there are currently four goaltenders who are tied for seventh with 15 wins. Halak is a few wins behind the top 10 in that category, which is around where he’d have to be if he wants any realistic chance to win the Vezina.

He’s in excellent shape with his save percentage, and even his goals against average as of now isn’t acting as a huge impediment for his odds. The real challenge for him is in the wins category, and that’s dependent on how many starts he gets in the second half of this season. He might ultimately not play in enough games to really generate sufficient buzz for the award. It would also be tough for him to keep the save percentage and goals against average where they are with more starts, but given how locked in Halak has been in the first half of the season, it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to expect him to finish the season with stats worthy of securing the Vezina Trophy.

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Bruins Pastrnak Remains On Pace For Best Season

David-Pastrnak-2(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

David Pastrnak burst out of the gate to begin the season for the Boston Bruins, and he immediately looked like a contender for the Rocket Richard Trophy. Given that Pastrnak was coming off consecutive 30-goal seasons, he looked like a prime candidate to top that leaderboard. In his 12 games in October, Pastrnak scored an incredible 11 goals. It was always extremely unlikely that Pastrnak was going to continue at a rate in which he would have eclipsed 70 goals by the time the season ended. Understandably, he has slowed off that pace a bit since then. In his 13 games in November, Pastrnak was still fantastic, but expectedly eased it back and scored a more realistic eight goals. In 14 December games, Pastrnak has four goals and 15 assists for 19 points. He had 10 assists combined for all of October and November.

Pastrnak is still generating scoring chances for his teammates, but he hasn’t personally been lighting the lamp with the same type of proficiency he showed earlier in the year. In his 25 games in October and November, Pastrnak had 19 goals on 101 shots on goal, registering an 18.8% shooting percentage. Pastrnak was averaging about 4.04 shots on goal per game in those first two months, and converting those shots on net into goals at a rate that was higher than his 13.3% career shooting percentage heading into this season. Pastrnak was also getting more pucks on goal than ever before, as he had averaged about 2.79 shots on goal throughout his career. His season-high in that category was 3.49 shots on goal per game in 2016-17, so his October and November total this season really represented a leap for him.

In the 14 games then, though, the stats have begun to come back down towards what his career totals had been before this season. He has 50 shots on goal in those 14 games, averaging 3.57 shots on goal per game. That is very close to his rate for the 2016-17 season. His December shooting percentage is what has caused the low output. Pastrnak is shooting just 8% in those 14 December games.

That December stretch has made Pastrnak fall behind in the chase for that Rocket Richard Trophy, as he is now tied for sixth in the league in goals. Alex Ovechkin is currently the league leader in with 29 goals in 37 games, and he is up by three over Jeff Skinner and John Tavares. Ovechkin has previously won the Rocket Richard Trophy seven times in his career, including five times in the last six seasons. The award has basically become his to lose any season in which he doesn’t miss significant time due to injury, and he deserves to be the favorite as things look right now.

With how things are shaping up, the winner of the award this season is going to at least have 50 goals, so that’s where Pastrnak needs to get to have any type of realistic chance. That doesn’t look as safe of a bet anymore after these last 14 games, although it’s not out of the question that he can still get there. If Pastrnak plays in 79 games this season, he has 40 more games to score 27 goals. It’ll be hard, but he’s capable of that type of production. An extremely conservative estimate would have Pastrnak averaging 2.75 on goal in those remaining games and shooting 12%. Those totals are both lower than his career totals and represent a scenario in which Pastrnak underperforms from here on out relative to what he can do. In that hypothetical, the Czech native would still finish this season with 40 goals. That would be more goals than he has ever scored in a season.

There are definitely realistic paths for Pastrnak to get to 50 goals, though, assuming that he doesn’t miss extended time due to injury. If Pastrnak averages three shots on goal per game in 40 remaining games, he’d need to shoot about 18% to get to 50 goals, and that necessary percentage would decrease the more shots he gets on goal. If he averages four shots on goal per game in 40 remaining games, Pastrnak would need to shoot about 14.1% to get to 50 goals. That great stretch would also have to coincide with Ovechkin and the other guys ahead of Pastrnak slowing down enough for him to surpass them.

The odds of Pastrnak winning the Rocket Richard Trophy have certainly decreased, but he is still very much poised to have the best season of his career. He looks like he’s in the midst of his most impressive season, which is really saying something given how he has asserted himself these past couple years as one of the premier scorers in the league. Even if the Rockey Richard Trophy appears less likely after four goals in those 14 December games, he is going to be among the lead leaders in that category this second half of the season if he’s able to stay healthy.

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Bruins Hope Marchand Doesn’t Miss Too Much Time

NHL: Boston Bruins at Tampa Bay Lightning(Photo Credit: NESN)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

In a season that has been largely defined by injuries to key players, part of the reason the Boston Bruins remain in good position for the playoffs near the halfway point of the season has been the play of Brad Marchand. Through 38 games, Marchand is second on the Bruins with 41 points, including 12 goals and a team-leading 29 assists. He is expected to miss the next game against the Buffalo Sabres with an upper-body injury, and if he ends up being out for an extended period of time, it would be a huge blow for a team that has had to deal with so many injuries this season.

Marchand is not only one of the Bruins most prolific generators of offense but also operates as an indispensable spark-plug in this lineup. He’s one of the league’s most notorious agitators, and the type of guy who’s a pest if you play against him, but beloved when he’s on your squad. Marchand has been one of the most penalized players in the NHL this season and is well on pace to rack up the most penalty minutes of his career this season. He is tied for the league lead with 78 penalty minutes and three misconduct penalties. He has also been accumulating plenty of minor penalties as well. Marchand is tied for fourth in the league with 19 minor penalties, second with six slashing penalties, and tied for sixth with five roughing penalties. He can really get into the head of opponents with his gritty play.

When he hasn’t been in the penalty box, though, Marchand has been one of the most consistent offensive performers in this Bruins lineup. The top line has carried a disproportionate load of the scoring this season, and Marchand is having another great season. Marchand is the only player in the NHL who has scored at least 34 goals in each of the previous three seasons, although he might not continue that streak this season. Marchand has scored exactly 85 points in each of the last two seasons, and while he’s likely to equal or surpass that total this season if he doesn’t miss an extended stretch of games, it will be based more on his assists than those previous two seasons.

Before this season, Marchand had never registered more than 51 assists in a season, and that output came last season. With 29 assists through 38 games this season, Marchand is well on his way to setting a new career high in that category. The goals haven’t been there this season relative to what he’s capable of, and his 10.6% shooting percentage so far this season would be 2.7% less than his previous low for a season in which he has played at least 25 games.

He has 113 shots on goal this season, averaging about 2.97 shots on goal per game. The only season in his career in which he has surpassed that was about 3.25 shots on goal per game in 2015-16. Marchand’s relatively down season thus far in goal scoring is more due to not having been able to finish as opposed to just not getting enough pucks on net.

Marchand has averaged about 1.04 points per game in January and about 0.88 points per game in February during his career, his best two months in that category. Given his already strong start in terms of racking up points, and with two of his most successful months yet to come, Marchand really looks poised to finish this season with more points than he has ever finished a season with if this upper-body injury doesn’t force him to miss numerous games. The Bruins really need him in their lineup.

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Bruins Heinen Searching For Scoring Breakout

AR-181018738(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

The Boston Bruins have been in search of consistent scoring beyond just their top line this season, and Danton Heinen has not yet shown the offensive output he did last season. Heinen has played in 30 of the 32 games this season for the Bruins, including 26 consecutive games dating back to October 18. What’s a bit discouraging is that he only has four goals and four assists for eight total points thus far in those 30 games played. This is just Heinen’s second full season in the NHL, so it’s not like there was really a long track record of what to expect from him in terms of offensive production. He really showed a lot of scoring promise as a rookie, though, which definitely evokes the question of what type of output should be expected of him going forward.

In 77 games last season for the Bruins, Heinen scored 16 goals and dished out 31 assists for a total of 47 points, which ranked fifth on the team. Amongst all rookies in the NHL last season, Heinen ranked tied for sixth in assists, ninth in points, and 11th in goals. Heinen has two goals and an assist in his previous four games, so perhaps that is a sign that he’s about to start generating more offense. He’s a good skater who has some nice scoring ability, and his relative lack of production this season has certainly made things harder for the Bruins to find scoring beyond that top line.

He has averaged 13:45 time on the ice per game, which is down from 15:01 last season, so he has not been getting as much opportunities to work. He’s also not getting as many shots on goal, either. He’s averaging about 1.47 shots on goal per game this season, which is down from his 1.75 shots on goal per game last season. When adjusted to account for his less time out on the ice, he’s still generally not getting pucks on net as frequently as he did last season. This season he averages a shot on goal about every 9.39 minutes he’s out on the ice. Last season, he averaged a shot on goal about every 8.57 minutes he was out on the ice. He also hasn’t been converting those attempts at as good of a rate this year as he was last year. He had an 11.9% shooting percentage last season, while this season that total has decreased to a 9.1% shooting percentage.

His best scoring months last season where October and December, when he averaged a point per game in both of those months. March was his worst scoring month in terms of points per game. He played in 15 games last March and had just four points. Given his strong December last season, it wouldn’t be surprising if these last four games for Heinen signal a prolific finish to this month. It will be huge for the Bruins if Heinen is able to produce offense from here on out the way he was able to last season. With all the key injuries this team is battling, they need guys to play the way they’re fully capable of playing, and Heinen really showed what he can do on offense last season.

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Bruins Krug Is Elevating His Game

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

The Boston Bruins have been plagued with injuries this season, which has forced many players to elevate their games to fill the void. One of those players is defenseman Torey Krug, who since returning from his own injury looks like he’s playing some of the best hockey of his career. Krug missed the first eight games of the season with an ankle injury but has played in every game since returning on October 30.

The defensive unit has been especially impacted by injuries. Zdeno Chara has been out since November 16 with a lower-body injury. Charlie McAvoy missed 15 games from October 20 to December 4 with concussion issues. Kevan Miller has missed chunks of time with both hand and larynx injuries. Krug has really done a great job this season helping to mitigate those absences, and he has been so important to the Bruins remaining in playoff contention despite the numerous injuries.

In the 20 games since Krug returned from his own injury, he has scored two goals and dished out 15 assists for 17 total points. Amongst NHL defensemen who’ve played in at least 20 games this season, he ranks eighth with 0.85 points per game. That would represent the best output of his career, as his previous high for a season in which he played more than one game was last season’s 0.75 points per game.

Krug has led the team with 22:21 average time on ice per game and a 3:57 average time on ice per game during the power-play. He actually leads the team with 10 power-play assists despite missing that big chunk of time at the beginning of the season. His facilitating skills on the power-play have been a huge reason why the unit as a whole ranks sixth in the league with a 26.3% rate on the man-advantage.

There have been a lot of trade rumors surrounding Krug recently as the need for another top-six wing is evident, and Krug has one year left on his $5.25 million deal before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. His performance demands a pay increase, but there’s only so much money to go around. Guys like McAvoy and Brandon Carlo are restricted free agents after this season, and they’re going to deserve big raises. Salary cap issues certainly make Krug susceptible to a trade, but he is such an asset as an offensive-oriented defenseman.

Krug leads Bruins defensemen in Point Shares this season despite ranking just fourth amongst those defensemen in games played. He makes a big impact on the game in the offensive zone, and his performance has really helped keep the Bruins afloat through all their key injuries. It’s going to be really interesting to see what the defensive unit will look like once everyone gets healthy and all back together. Krug has really shined on the power-play this season, and his production has been huge while the team combats the numerous injuries throughout their lineup. The Bruins are still well within the playoff hunt despite all the injuries they’ve suffered, so there’s much reason for optimism once the lineup gets fully healthy.

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Bruins Rask Improves Play Since Returning From Leave of Absence

Bruins Stars Hockey(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

When Tuukka Rask was granted a leave of absence from the Boston Bruins earlier this month to deal with a personal matter, it evoked a lot of questions. Clearly, there was something majorly impacting his life, so much so that he felt the responsible thing to do was step away from the team. These players are human beings first and foremost. Hockey is just their job. They have identities off the ice where they’re somebody’s son or husband or father. His performance on the ice is completely secondary to his existence off the ice, and he deserves support for addressing whatever it is he had to address.

Before his leave of absence was granted, he had been playing uncharacteristically poorly, and it was easy to in hindsight attribute the personal matter off the ice to the struggles on the ice. Judging from how he has played since returning from the leave of absence, it’s evident that the decision to leave the team also benefitted his play. Of course, his stats were so lackluster before the leave of absence that it was hard for him to go anywhere but up when he got back. However, the simple fact remains that he has played much better between the pipes for the Bruins since returning from his leave of absence.

Before he stepped away from the team for a few days, Rask had played in eight games and registered a 3.05 Goals Against Average and a .901 save percentage. Rask has really improved since returning to the team on November 13 after stepping away for a few days to deal with that personal matter. He was back on the ice for the November 16 game against the Dallas Stars and gave up just one goal on 37 shots faced. He has started four games for the Bruins since returning from the leave of absence, and his stats are beginning to resemble that of the elite goaltender Rask has been during his career. In his last four games, Rask has a 1.75 Goals Against Average and a .944 Save Percentage.

Jaroslav Halak has been fantastic this season, really allowing the Bruins to be able to sustain the bad stretch of games that Rask had. Halak leads the NHL with a .936 Save Percentage and ranks second with a 2.06 Goals Against Average in 15 games played.
It’s always a wise idea to ride with the hot hand in the crease, whoever that might be at any given time during the season. While it was clear for the first month or so of the season that Halak gave the Bruins a better chance to win than Rask, the gap between them is rapidly closing.  In Halak’s last four games, he has a 2.75 Goals Against Average and a .912 Save Percentage, and one of those games was when he gave up six goals on 25 shots against the Colorado Avalanche. If the Avalanche game gets eliminated, then Halak has a 1.67 Goals Against Average and a .950 Save Percentage in his last three games.

Both goaltending options look fantastic as of late, and it is such a luxury for a team to not have to lean so heavily on just one goaltender. Rask has really played better since returning from his leave of absence, and it’s easy to point to his improved peace of mind since returning as a factor in his improved performance. The Bruins look like they have two incredible goaltending options going forward, and it’ll be up to the coaching staff to see how their playing time is divvied these next handful of games.

Bruins Pastrnak Is Climbing The Scoring Leaderboard

APTOPIX Maple Leafs Bruins Hockey(Photo Credit: AP)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

The first two months of the season are over for the Boston Bruins, and David Pastrnak still hasn’t fallen off a viable pace to lead the league in goals. It’s always a challenge not to draw too many conclusions about the type of season a player is going to have just a few weeks into the season. The Bruins are nearly a third of the way through the season now, though, and Pastrnak still looks like he has a really good chance at capturing the Rocket Richard Trophy.

Pastrnak has played in all 25 games this season for the Bruins and is currently tied for second in the league with 19 goals. The only player who has more than Pastrnak right now is Patrik Laine, who has scored 21 goals for the Winnipeg Jets in 24 games. Laine is up by two goals on Pastrnak with one less game played, but it’s impossible to definitively declare anybody the favorite at this point.

What is clear, though, is that assuming Pastrnak remains healthy, he is going to be one of the players competing for that Rocket Richard Trophy. He had a great month of October, and he followed it up with an impressive November to remain among the goal scoring leaders. For the season, Pastrnak is averaging about 4.04 shots on goal per game and shooting 18.8%. He’s fifth in the NHL in total shots on goal with 101.

Pastrnak hasn’t missed a game yet this season, but it’s always safer to assume a guy will miss a couple here and there. It also makes for a simpler calculation if round numbers can be used. In this case, Pastrnak would play in 55 more games if he can reach 80 games. Given that Pastrnak played in all 82 games last season, it’s not a stretch to assume he’s going to prove durable of the course of this season.

If Pastrnak continues at his current rate of shots per game over the rest of the season, he’s going to finish the season with about 323 shots if he plays in 80 games. If he continues to shoot at 18.8% over the rest of the season with those same shots on goal per game totals, he’s going to finish with about 61 goals over 80 games.

That’s what he’s on pace for as of now, but there’s always the risk that a player will become more fatigued as a season prolongs and slow down a bit. In the last 10 non-lockout-shortened seasons, there have only been two 60-goal seasons. Alexander Ovechkin scored 65 in 2007-08, and Steven Stamkos scored 60 in 2011-12.

Pastrnak came into this season with a career-high of 3.49 shots on goal per game, and a career-career-high shooting percentage of 14.2%. He is far out-pacing his previous career highs in those categories through two months of this season, and it’s nearly impossible to envision him not setting a career-high in goals assuming he stays healthy.

There is some potentially bad news coming up for Pastrnak, though. Coming into this season, the lowest goal-scoring month for Pastrnak has been December with 0.29 goals per game. His two highest scoring months in terms of goals per game had been November and October, so it makes sense that he has gotten off to such a strong start.

Based on career precedent, Pastrnak is going to decrease his scoring rate in December, but his October and November of this season were so strong that it might not bump him off the pace for the goal-scoring lead too much. Pastrnak is setting himself up nicely for a run at the Rocket Richard Trophy, but he’s obviously going to need some help in the form of Laine and other top contenders going through some relative droughts.

Bruins Jake DeBrusk Is On A Roll

Bruins Canadiens Hockey(Photo Credit: AP)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith 

There was a lot of buzz heading into this season about how Jake DeBrusk was going to follow a pretty intriguing rookie performance. Last season DeBrusk played in 70 games for the Boston Bruins, scoring 16 goals and dishing out 27 assists for 43 points. Amongst rookies who played in at least 60 games last season, DeBrusk ranked eighth with 0.61 points per game. DeBrusk was originally drafted by the Bruins 14th overall in 2015 and is the son of former NHL bruiser Louie DeBrusk. Jake has a different game than his father, though, and actually scored more points in his rookie season than his dad scored in his entire 401 game career.

There were numerous reasons to be excited that DeBrusk was going to take things to the next level for the 2018-19 season. He’s a great skater who possesses some immense scoring ability. Not only does he produce on the offensive end, but he’s an effective two-way player as well. He started off a bit slow this year, but he is really starting to pick up the scoring pace and provide the Bruins more offensive balance through the lineup. Through the first 13 games of this season, DeBrusk had just three points, all of which were goals, with two of those goals coming in a game against the Detroit Red Wings on October 13. In the last 11 games, though, DeBrusk has been able to find his scoring touch more consistently, as he has seven goals and two assists. DeBrusk is the only player on the Bruins besides David Pastrnak with double-digit goals. He took a puck to the back of the head Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs but was back on the ice during practice a couple days later.

This recent stretch is indicative that DeBrusk might be able to reach the 30-goal plateau in just his second season in the league. Since DeBrusk doesn’t have a very extensive track record in the NHL, it’s harder to know what type of level he’s poised to settle into in terms of shooting percentage or shots per game. Last season, DeBrusk averaged about 2.04 shots on goal per game and tallied a shooting percentage of 11.2%, which resulted in 16 goals in 72 games. This season, he is averaging about 2.46 shots on goal per game, and his shooting percentage has increased to 16.9%. For his career, DeBrusk is averaging about 2.15 shots on goal per game with a shooting percentage of 12.9%. 

Let’s even assume DeBrusk misses a couple games here and there the rest of this season. At 24 games so far, maybe he’ll play in about 50 or so more. If he averages his career totals in shots on goal per game and shooting percentage in those final 50 games, DeBrusk should score about 14 more goals this season, leaving him with 24 goals. That’s still a pretty conservative estimate, though, given how he has looked this season, particularly as of late. 14 more goals would be him reverting closer to his shooting totals from last season, and it already looks like he’s in the midst of improvement this season as a scorer. Using 50 remaining games as a basic template for predicting DeBrusk’s season is nice, not only because it’s a round number, but it allows some cushion for injury.

Let’s say DeBrusk needs to score 20 goals in 50 games to get to 30 goals on the season, all of which are conveniently round numbers for the sake of the hypothetical. If he continues his shooting percentage and shots on goal per game totals thus far this season for the rest of those 50 games, DeBrusk will score about 21 more goals. That would give him 31 goals in 74 games played, and those shots per game and shooting percentage totals could even dip slightly if he plays in more than 50 more games.

It’s going to be fascinating to see if DeBrusk will even out his scoring or if he’ll continue netting them in bunches with long gaps in between. However he ultimately divides his goal scoring, though, it looks like DeBrusk is well on his way to scoring more than 30 goals in just his second season in the league, assuming he doesn’t miss significant time at any point this season.

Bruins Krejci Continuing To Make Plays

Maple Leafs Bruins Hockey(Photo Credit: Courtesy)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

The Boston Bruins have been leaning heavily on their top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak to generate offense. That trio has a combined 71 points through the first 18 games of this season. The rest of the team has just barely outscored those three, combining for 75 points. A dominant first line is a gigantic asset, but a team also needs other players capable of elevating their games when that top trio is neutralized. 

David Krejci has really been the one other forward in this lineup who has consistently created offense for the Bruins and taken some pressure off of those three stars. Krejci has 16 points in 18 games thus far. 14 of those points have been assists, as Krejci has been excelling at making plays for his teammates to capitalize on. Krejci has tallied an assist in five consecutive games, including an especially impressive three-assist output in the loss against the Vancouver Canucks on November 8th. Unfortunately, Krejci hasn’t scored a goal in the last nine games. The last time he lit the lamp came October 23 against the Ottawa Senators. The Bruins are still shuffling things around on lines two through four. Jake DeBrusk was moved to the right side from the left with Krejci, and Joakim Nordstrom was bumped up to join those two on the left.

As the season goes on, it’s going to be imperative for the Bruins to be able to rely on people beyond just the top line to produce on the offensive end. Krejci is a great playmaker, and he has the vision and facilitation skills to consistently create scoring opportunities when he’s out on the ice. Of the 14 assists Krejci has dished out this season, five have come on the power-play. That’s tied for third on the team. The Bruins have been 31.7% on the power-play so far this season in their 18 games, which ranks second in the league. They have 20 power-play goals in all, which is more than any other team has. Krejci has assisted on a quarter of those and scored another one. He has been a big part of why this power-play unit has been so successful. He has spread out his assists among numerous teammates on that power-play. Pastrnak is the only guy who Krejci has multiple assists to on the man advantage.

Krejci has nine assists during even-strength play. DeBrusk has three of those goals, Nordstrom has two, Pastrnak has two, Bergeron has one, and Matt Grzelcyk has one. Krejci is on pace for his best offensive season since 2008-09, when he scored 73 points in 82 games as a 22-year old. He’s having this impressive season so far despite having just two goals through 18 games with just 21 shots on goal. That’s a shooting percentage of just 9.5%, which is well below his career rate of 12.1% and would be his lowest total since his 8.3% output in 2010-11.

He’s only averaging about 1.17 shots on goal per game this season. That’s well below his approximately 1.84 career shots on goal per game rate. It’s also by far his fewest amount of shots on goal per game for a season. His lowest seasonal total in campaigns where he played at least 47 games was 1.30, and that was back in 2007-08 when he played 56 games. 

He’s very likely to eventually get those shots per game totals up, as well as that shooting percentage increased, which has him in store for one of his best offensive seasons if he can stay healthy. Being nearly on pace right now for his best offensive season while shooting uncharacteristically poorly and more sporadically through these 18 games is impressive in its own right. It shows how tremendous he has been at creating scoring chances for his teammates this season, and there’s certainly reason to believe his goal scoring is going to increase the more he gets the puck on net based on what he has done previously in his career.

His best goal-scoring month during his career has been December. In 110 career December games, Krejci has 35 goals, which is a rate of 0.32 goals per game. That is significantly higher than his total career rate of 0.22 goals per game. Look for him to start getting more goals as the team moves into December. The Bruins need reliable production beyond the trio of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak, and it looks like Krejci is poised to continue offering his brand of dependable offensive playmaking. 

Bruins Bergeron on Pace for Career Year

NELA8854.JPG(Photo Credit: Nancy Lane)

By: Ian Smith | Follow me on Twitter @IanMalcolmSmith

Patrice Bergeron has been arguably the best two-way player in hockey for the last handful of seasons. He has won four Selke Trophies in the previous seven years and possesses the playmaking abilities to consistently generate offense for himself and his teammates. The energy and skill it takes to be such a stalwart on the defensive end of the ice while also serving as an important source of offensive production is truly remarkable. Bergeron’s value to this team is immeasurable, and it looks like he might be in the midst of the best offensive season of his career.

It’s amazing that he is averaging well over a point per game to start this season at age 33 and with over 900 games under his belt, especially because it looks like he might be entering new territory. Bergeron has never averaged a point per game throughout a season. The closest he came was last season when he registered 63 points in 64 games. Heading into the 2018-19 season, Bergeron had played 14 years in the NHL, and his career-high point total was 73 back in 2005-06. He did that as a 20-year-old, and he’s on pace right now to surpass that previous best as a 33-year-old with a lot of mileage on his skates. Through 15 games this season, Bergeron has 21 points, which ranks him tied for fifth in the league in points scored.

There are numerous reasons to believe that Bergeron is going to score more points this season that he ever has before in his career. For one thing, he’s durable. He missed a chunk of time last season with a broken bone in his foot, but it was the first season in a while where he had missed significant action. He had appeared in at least 79 games in each of the previous six non-lockout shortened seasons before last year, and he has appeared in all 15 Bruins games so far.

Playing on a line with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand is going to provide him with ample opportunities to either set those two up for goals or capitalize himself on chances created by them. Pastrnak looks like he’s going to compete for the Rocket Richard Trophy this season, and Marchand is the only player in the league who has scored at least 34 goals in each of the previous three seasons. That line is going to continue scoring at an impressive rate, meaning Bergeron is going to keep racking up points.

Bergeron has 51 shots on net through 15 games this season. That’s an average of 3.40 shots on goal per game. He has averaged 2.96 shots on goal per game for his career. When he had 73 points in 2005-06 he averaged 3.83 shots on goal per game. When he scored 63 points in 64 games last season, he averaged 3.50 shots on goal per game. He is averaging fewer shots on goal per game this season, but he has a shooting percentage of 15.7% this year so far. That’s well above his career total of 10.3% and his 2005-06 total of 10.0%. It’s also higher than his 13.4% put up in 2017-18. Even if Bergeron slips in his shots on goal per game to something like 3.30 and his shooting percentage to something like 13% from this point forward, that would still come out to about 38 goals by the end of this season if Bergeron plays in 80 games. If Bergeron can stay healthy this season, he’s very likely going to set a career high in goals. Pastrnak and Marchand are also going to provide him with plenty of opportunities to rack up assists, so Bergeron is really in a great position.

During his career, Bergeron’s lowest scoring month in terms of points per game in months where he has played at least 100 career games is the month of November at about 0.70 points per game. His second lowest points per game for a month is 0.72 for October. Bergeron tends to pick up his scoring rate after the first two months of the season, so the fact that he has started off this strong bodes well for him to keep it up for the rest of the season. There are definitely a lot of indicators that Bergeron is in the midst of what’s going to end up being one of his most statistically impressive seasons.