After getting off to an embarrassing 0-3 start to the 2015-2016 season, the Boston Bruins have bounced back with two wins on a recent road trip out west to give fans a glimmer of hope.
The Bruins’s season opener, a 6-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, was a display of young and undisciplined players lacking maturity and experience at the NHL level. The two games following were against two Eastern Conference rivals in Montreal and Tampa Bay, which followed suit as the Bruins lost 4-2 and 6-3 respectively. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was off to a less than mediocre start to the season, as he had only given up five goals or more three times in 2014-2015. As if matters weren’t bad enough, Boston’s leading scorer from the 2014-2015 season Brad Marchand left the game against Montreal with a concussion. At this point, the Boston faithful were just about ready to throw in the towel on the new-look Bruins and their 2015-2016 campaign.
Boston’s early struggles called for Head Coach Claude Julien to make some changes in the lineup as the Bruins headed out west to take on the Colorado Avalanche and Arizona Coyotes. One of these changes was giving 24-year-old forward Tyler Randell the start against Colorado, which was Randell’s NHL debut.
Randell scored his first NHL goal on a deflection of an Adam McQuaid slapshot from the point. Randell’s goal was one of six that the Bruins would put up in a 6-2 rout of the Avalanche, giving the black and gold their first win of the season.
In Boston’s second game of their brief road trip out west, they took on the streaking Arizona Coyotes, who had won three of their first four games this season. Boston came out firing in the first few minutes, but Arizona scored first giving the Coyotes a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins continued their domination throughout the rest of the game though, as the total shot count was 43-23 in favor of the Bruins. Rookie Tyler Randell came to the rescue again, putting the Bruins on the board in the second period, tying the game at one goal each. Boston never fell behind again and beat the Coyotes 4-3.
While Rask’s play was a bit concerning in the first few games of the season, I don’t see it being an issue down the stretch and I have a feeling that most faithful Bruins fans would agree. Besides Rask’s performance, several question marks remain up and down the lineup. For one, Matt Beleskey has only tallied two points so far this season. Beleskey has mostly been playing on Boston’s second line with David Krecji, the NHL’s current leading scorer, and David Pastrnak, who has also been one of the Bruins’s best players thus far. Beleskey’s play has been disappointing to say the least, as he was Boston’s big signing this offseason. Hopefully he will start producing more consistently down the stretch.
Regardless of the doubts within the Bruins lineup, there are certainly things to be excited about. First and foremost, David Krejci is tied for the lead in points in the NHL, having tallied nine points so far. Second, David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner look to be producing, having notched three points each to this point. Patrice Bergeron is also coming up big for the Bruins, like always, with three goals and two assists in his five games this season.
Finally, defenseman Torey Krug looks to have taken on a bit of a leadership role amongst the Bruins and has tallied six assists in the first five games of the season. With captain Zdeno Chara well past his prime, newcomer Matt Irwin recently being placed on waivers and Dennis Wideman on the sidelines after back surgery, Krug is going to have to play some serious minutes on the Bruins blue line. I look forward to seeing what Krug can do for Boston in the long run.
Boston native Jimmy Hayes scored his first goal as a Bruin in the team’s game against Colorado. Hayes also notched four assists that night for a four point game. Also new to the black and gold is Zac Rinaldo, who seems to have toned down his often wild gameplay, but has yet to record a point with Boston. I expect both Rinaldo and Hayes to have a positive impact on the team down the stretch, just in different ways.
There are several things that factor into Boston’s long-term success, including the health of their players. David Krejci and Dennis Seidenberg are both injury prone, but we have seen first hand how impactful they can be when healthy. All in all, the Bruins look to have figured some things out and have shown some life.
Crae can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org