By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
For the first time in the 2019 calendar year, we take a look at the highs and lows of the month of January. With the NHL Trade Deadline looming around the nearby corner, the Bruins were in a position in this past month to prove their worth and see where exactly these holes are that need to be filled. The thirty-one days had some good moments and some bad ones too and I’m here to recap all of it.
In this fourth installment of Bruins Monthly Recap, we will take a closer look at the surprises, disappointments, and positives of the eleventh calendar month including the best performances, worst games, injury report, and finally, a prediction of the month to follow. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
The Good Games
In twelve games, the Black n Gold went 6-3-3 – a big fall from the start of the month where they went 4-0-0. Even though some games went sour, here are the ones within the six wins that made Bruins fans a bit happier.
January 1st/19 – vs Chicago Blackhawks (Winter Classic)
Two Original Six teams battling it outside at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana, United States is more often than not an entertaining hockey game and it sure was. The majority of the game was quite close, only one-goal leads took over the game and no team was really running away with the game.
Chicago opened the scoring in the first period, only for David Pastrnak to respond later in the frame to tie it at one. In the second period, Dominik Kahun buried a goal to give the Hawks the lead once again. The trend continued when Patrice Bergeron scored his thirteenth goal of the 2018-19 season, tying it once again.
The third period was very close for the majority, until Sean Kuraly buried a backhand shot past Cam Ward, taking the lead just past the halfway point in the final period. Brad Marchand put the nail in the coffin with just around thirty seconds left to play and the Bruins won the 2019 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic.
January 8th/19 – vs Minnesota Wild
After the Winter Classic win, the Bruins piled on two more wins against the Calgary Flames and the Buffalo Sabres ahead of their game against the Wild on the eighth of the month. In the previous game, the Bruins beat the Sabres 2-1, but it ended on a somewhat unfortunate note. The B’s were leading 2-0 for the whole game until Rasmus Ristolainen scored at the 17:22 mark to end Tuukka Rask’s shutout.
With Rask back in net against Minnesota, the Bruins wanted to get him that shutout – and they did. The Finnish netminder stopped all twenty-four shots against en route to his 250th NHL victory – shutting out the Wild. Danton Heinen, Brad Marchand, Jake DeBrusk, and Patrice Bergeron scored the goals while both Bergeron and Marchand ended the night with a goal and two assists.
The win was also the fifth win in a row for the Bruins who were now making serious ground on the Toronto Maple Leafs within the NHL Eastern Conference Standings. Both goaltenders and the players surrounding them were playing well and the team looked to be rounding out their game.
January 17th/19 – vs St. Louis Blues
The Bruins had four games in the week of January 13th to 19th and before the game against the Blues, the Bruins had lost two games already – an overtime loss to the Canadiens and a tough 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Typically, the second game of a back-to-back is much more difficult to win due to the fact that you are playing hockey on consecutive days.
However in the game against the Blues, the Bruins turned it around almost entirely from the game against Philly. Neither team scored in the first twenty minutes, but in the second period, defenceman Torey Krug opened the scoring for Boston. The Blues answered back with goals from O’Reilly and Gunnarsson, only for former Blue himself, David Backes to tie it late.
The third period was all Boston even though they were out-shot 10-6. First, Chris Wagner scored his sixth goal of the year, followed by Marchand’s 18th and Kuraly’s sixth to bury the Blues and take a 5-2 win. Tuukka Rask made twenty-eight stops to tie Tiny Thompson for the most wins in Bruins franchise history with 252. David Krejci had a three assist night as well.
The Not-So-Good Games
After the four-straight wins to begin the month, the Bruins went 2-3-3 in the eight games played. Within that, the Bruins had some really poor games, games where management and fans alike want new bodies and new players heading into the playoffs. One thing that can be an accomplishment, is that the Bruins never lost a game in the month of January by more than two goals and they only lost by a two-goal margin once – against the Washington Capitals.
January 10th/19 – vs Washington Capitals
Just like I said, the only time the Bruins ever lost by two goals in the entire month of January was against the Capitals, the team that has had the Bruins numbers for the last few years, on that January 10th game.
Boston entered the game having won their last five games, four of which in January and things were running well as a whole. However, a quick goal from Jakub Vrana at the 6:38 mark of the first frame basically ended the night as the Bruins failed to take the lead on the Capitals. Ryan Donato tied the contest in the middle period, but less than a minute later, Alex Ovechkin scored, (surprise), and it became a 2-1 Washington lead.
Again, the Bruins answered back after the intermission. David Krejci scored within the first five minutes on the power-play, but just over a minute later, Niklas Backstrom scored the eventual game-winning goal for Washington. Ovechkin would pot his second of the night and Caps win, 4-2.
The biggest issue in this game, was that the Bruins dominated on the shots, but could not finish the opportunities past Braden Holtby. Boston out-shot the Caps 41-22, including a 17-5 shot-differential in the first period.
January 19th/19 – vs New York Rangers
It was not a terrible game for the Bruins against the Rangers, considering they only lost by a single goal but there were a couple reasons that made this a poor game for the Bruins.
First off, the Bruins failed to get a point at the least against a non-playoff team, an unfortunate trend for Boston as of late, leaving valuable points on the table against teams that are worse than them. Second, goaltender Tuukka Rask was injured, as we all know, on a driving play by Filip Chytil. We now know that Rask is okay and he has since played, but the image of him getting hurt makes this one a tough one.
Good: Brad Marchand – 7 Goals, 9 Assists, 16 Points, 6 PPP in 12 Games
Unsurprisingly, the top line for the Bruins has been nearly unstoppable this season they have been a big reason to the position that the B’s are facing within the NHL standings. In January, Brad Marchand was the leader of that group, leading the team with 7-9-16 totals in the 12 games of the month.
Marchand now has 19-38-57 totals this season and is on pace for a career-high ninety-one point season. Marchand has had spans in past seasons where he struggles to score, but if he can avoid that in the second-half of this campaign, then I believe that it is possible for him to surpass the eighty-five points he racked up in each of the previous two seasons.
Bad: David Backes – 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 3 Points in 9 Games
One of the biggest struggles for the B’s is the lack of depth scoring and even though Backes is playing third-line minutes most of the time, he needs to produce more and be more of a influential role to the younger players that Boston has tried out. To be making $6,000,000 for the next two seasons after this one, Backes needs to be able to score more than three points in nine games.
The former St. Louis Blue has 5-8-13 totals with a -4 rating and that needs to be better if the Boston Bruins plan on going further than round two in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.
Good: Tuukka Rask – 5-0-2, 1.91 GAA, .938 SV%, 1 Shutout
Tuukka Rask had his struggles early on in the year, but throughout the past month, Rask has been the clear, number one goalie for the Bruins and he is at the top of his game right now. Rask did not lose a single game in regulation and had a less than two goals-against-average.
Tuukka allowed fourteen goals on 226 shots against in the thirty-one January days, putting himself near the top of the NHL for most goaltender statistics in that time. Rask is proving right now that he can play at a high level, even coming back from a concussion. It has been a breath of fresh air when talking about Tuukka, especially considering that he can pass Tiny Thompson with one more win.*
*This article was written before Rask won against the Capitals on February 3rd, 2019. Rask is now has the most wins by a goaltender in Boston Bruins franchise history.
Bad: Danton Heinen – 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 3 Points in 12 Games
Similar to David Backes, Danton Heinen has not done well this season, let alone this month. Scoring only two goals and an assist in twelve games after a forty-seven point rookie season last year is simply not good enough for the 23-year-old forward. Heinen has had many chances, most recently, an outstanding chance to score against the Flyers on January 31st, but he mis-handled the puck and failed to shoot at the wide open net.
Heinen’s two linemates, Jakub Forsbacka Karlsson and Ryan Donato were both demoted to the AHL’s Providence Bruins because of their lack of production. Heinen is on an expiring contract and will become a restricted free agent on July 1st, 2019. After his success last season, many people including myself wondered what he may be worth when he needs to sign on the dotted line, but so far this season, he is showing out to be a cheap player to bring back – if he even is brought back.
Good: David Pastrnak – 7 Goals, 6 Assists, 13 Points in 12 Games
Continuing on the hot-streak, for the fourth-straight month, David Pastrnak is the best player on the Bruins. Clearly. Pastrnak only had four games that he did not score a point, but made up for it with four multi-point games including a three-point game against the Jets on the 29th. Pastrnak scored his twenty-ninth and thirtieth goals of the 2018-19 campaign in the final game of the month as well. He is currently tied with Brayden Point and John Tavares for third-most goals in the NHL.
In addition, Pastrnak won the 2019 NHL Accuracy Shooting Event at the All-Star Skills Competition in San Jose, California – a great moment for him and Bruins fans.
Good: Patrice Bergeron, Torey Krug, David Krejci
Bad: Jaroslav Halak, Ryan Donato, Jake DeBrusk
Sunday, Feb. 3rd – at Washington Capitals
Tuesday, Feb. 5th – vs New York Islanders
Wednesday, Feb. 6th – at New York Rangers
Saturday, Feb. 9th – vs Los Angeles Kings
Sunday, Feb. 10th – vs Colorado Avalanche
Tuesday, Feb. 12th – vs Chicago Blackhawks
Friday, Feb. 15th – at Anaheim Ducks
Saturday, Feb. 16th – at Los Angeles Kings
Monday, Feb. 18th – at San Jose Sharks
Wednesday, Feb. 20th – at Vegas Golden Knights
Saturday, Feb. 23rd – at St. Louis Blues
Tuesday, Feb. 26th – vs San Jose Sharks
Thursday, Feb. 28th – vs Tampa Bay Lightning
The month of January had many games within the walls of the TD Garden, however, out of the thirteen games of February, the Bruins will be outside of Boston for seven road games including a five-game road trip that includes the often dreaded California trip. Boston will play the Kings and Sharks two times, the only two times all season.
Boston does not have an easy schedule coming up. Thirteen games in twenty-eight days this month and with the playoffs looming around the corner, each and every possible point on the line has implications on it, deciding who the Bruins will meet in the opening round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not only that, but the NHL Trade Deadline is also in February – on the twenty-fifth of the month, making the upcoming weeks all the more interesting.