The good news is the Boston Bruins aren’t playing super-great so far this season and they’re still 5-1-2.
The bad news is that kind of thing tends to catch up with you.
On Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team actually got more goals from someone who isn’t on the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak line than that top trio provided. Jake DeBrusk got his first of the year, Danton Heinen his second. Then David Pastrnak got his ninth(!!!) late to force overtime and ensure a loser point.
It was the first really good game the Bruins had played in a while, front to back. They outplayed Toronto pretty much from the outset but didn’t win, which is how it goes sometimes and, on the balance of the season to date, you have to say it’s fair.
The Pastrnak goal bumped that line’s total to 15 on the season. The DeBrusk and Heinen goals bumped everyone else’s total to seven. Heinen is the only other guy on the team with multiple goals, and it’s an increasing problem. Because while the Perfection Line, if we’re going to keep calling them that, can be counted on to score pretty consistently, you maybe can’t count on 15 goals every eight games, y’know?
So even Bruce Cassidy has had to say it: Someone else has to score the goals. Maybe Saturday night was a start, but it’s not like they or we couldn’t have seen this problem coming. Because of a few notable RFAs who needed new contracts, the Bruins simply didn’t have money to spend on the second-line winger they’ve needed for a few years now (not that such a need has precluded a Cup Final appearance).
Nice to have Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo in the fold, obviously, but it would also be nice to have someone who can maybe put up 20-something goals like clockwork in addition to being a reliable all-around player. The Bruins have plenty of those guys, minus the goals. Maybe you say DeBrusk could be that guy, but he shot 17 percent last year so who knows; he certainly shoots enough that he could hit 20-plus consistently. But he was one of only five guys on the team last year to even clear 12, so…
The real problem for this capped-out Bruins team’s forward-money allocation is the elephant in the room: David Backes. Saturday was just his fourth game of the season and he’s still taking up $6 million in cap space. Those rumors of a career-threatening injury over the summer didn’t come through to bail out Don Sweeney on this putrid contract, and both he and David Krejci continue to take up $13.25 million this season and next.
If you’re the optimistic type, you can assuage your concerns with this: Even after Saturday’s two depth goals, the bottom three lines are still underperforming their expected-goal total by almost 5.5 goals. That suggests the scoring will come eventually, but the thing is, it’s going to have to. Bergeron, Marchand, and especially Pastrnak are collectively blowing their own combined individual expected goals (about 7.5) out of the water.
Unless Sweeney can get extremely creative here in the next few months and find a way to get Backes off the roster while simultaneously acquiring a legitimate scoring winger, the answer is only going to be in the room already.
For the Bruins’ sake, it has to. But hey, at least they’re banking the points right now.
Anaheim Ducks: Man these guys have a pretty decent record. Having the best goalie in the world will do that for you.
Arizona Coyotes: One gets the feeling that like three-quarters of the Coyotes roster could be hurt and still have a pretty good chance of beating the Senators. But hey, a win’s a win.
Boston Bruins: Seems to me if you can beat everyone else on a pretty consistent basis, the only problem with getting “just” a point out of two teams all but guaranteed to hit the century mark is that they’re in your division.
Buffalo Sabres: Very intelligent here.
Calgary Flames: That’s a putrid second period.
Carolina Hurricanes: Yeah I’m not really willing to chalk the loss of Jordan Martinook up as being the primary driver of the team’s recent struggles, but it’s always a good idea to add offense, so...
Chicago: I really hope Kirby Dach is good at the NHL level this year but I’m not holding my breath.
Colorado Avalanche: Looks like the depth forwards learned how to score. Uh oh.
Columbus Blue Jackets: It’s weird to think about it this way after two straight OT losses, but Columbus has one regulation loss since Oct. 5. What’s going on?
Dallas Stars: Wow, a regulation win. Wow!
Detroit Red Wings: I mean, look dude, the team just isn’t good. If you’re gonna get frustrated about not scoring in October with this forward group, I hate to tell you what January’s gonna feel like for ya.
Edmonton Oilers: I’m trying to think if any teams that got out to inexplicably hot starts and ended up at the top of the NHL had any hilariously foreseeable declines last year. Probably not! (Also the Sabres don’t even have the best record in their own conference. But sure, alright.)
Florida Panthers: After this weekend, the Panthers are up to 3-2-3. Which is better than having more than two regulation losses, but still not where they’d like to be.
Los Angeles Kings: The way the Calgary media has covered the Doughty/Tkachuk feud, you’d have a hard time identifying which guy they covered on a daily basis. I really don’t get the Canadian fascination with Doughty.
Minnesota Wild: For me, this team stinks!
Montreal Canadiens: Not bad, not bad.
Nashville Predators: Juuse Saros has not been good this season. We’re talkin’ 14 goals against on 95 shots. Bad. Think where Nashville would be if he were even half-competent.
New Jersey Devils: Finally.
New York Islanders: Hmm, you don’t say.
New York Rangers: Finally, the Rangers are gonna work on their biggest problem: Being….. physical?
Ottawa Senators: Hmm, it’s so strange that Colin White and Brady Tkachuk don’t look like potential superstars anymore now that they don’t play with Mark Stone. Shocking turn of events. No one could have seen it coming.
Philadelphia Flyers: Yeah you don’t get to call anyone “lowly” when you’re below .500.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jack Johnson back in the lineup and he immediately gets caught behind the net(?) on the penalty kill(????) to give up a brutal power-play goal. What is he DOING here?
San Jose Sharks: They truly have to do something about the goaltending. Just incredibly bad.
St. Louis Blues: The Blues ended Saturday third in the division but they’re also 3-2-3. Not great.
Tampa Bay Lightning: So are we gonna talk about Andrei Vasilevskiy having a sub-.900 save percentage or no?
Toronto Maple Leafs: Yeah, great coaching to go, “Maybe with Tavares hurt, I should put Marner with Matthews instead.” Very intelligent. Incredible. Give him the Jack Adams now!
Vancouver Canucks: Not sure you’re allowed to call literally any Devils/Canucks game in mid-October “playoff-style.” I don’t care what the score is.
Vegas Golden Knights: If Fleury is gonna be .920-plus all season again, just forget it.
Washington Capitals: John Carlson has almost twice as many points as the next-closest guy on the team? Okay.
Winnipeg Jets: Neal Pionk hasn’t been awful, so I guess that is “defying expectations.” Sure.
Play of the Weekend
Wow, Tyler Toffoli is gonna look real good on a contender in a few months.
Gold Star Award
Tyson Jost had a hat trick against the Lightning, which is good. Pretty good team to have a hat trick against.
Minus of the Weekend
I’m going to encourage you to go check out how many teams have sub-.900 team save percentages so far this season. The results may surprise you: It’s more than half the league.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “cj19” is helping so much.
B. Tkachuk- Adds goal scoring and grit.
W. Nylander-skilled centre or winger
N. Robertson- Leaf prospect averaging 2pts a game with the Peterborough Petes in OHL
2nd rd pick 2021
There he is now… who are you?
Ryan Lambert is a Yahoo! Sports hockey columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.
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