Taking A Look At The Boston Bruins In January
January was another rough month for the Boston Bruins. One in which they couldn’t really develop consistency. What happened in January?
6-6-2, 14 points
26-21-6, 58 points, tied for second place in the Atlantic Division
Game 40: Jan. 2: BOS: 0 @ NJD: 3 [L]
Game 41: Jan. 5: BOS: 3 vs. EDM: 4 [OTL]
Game 42: Jan. 7: BOS: 4 @ FLA: 0 [W]
Game 43: Jan. 8: BOS: 3 @ CAR: 4 [OTL]
Game 44: Jan. 10: BOS: 5 @ STL: 3 [W]
Game 45: Jan. 12: BOS: 1 @ NSH: 2 [L]
Game 46: Jan. 14: BOS: 6 vs. PHI: 3 [W]
Game 47: Jan. 16: BOS: 0 @ NYI: 4 [L]
Game 48: Jan. 18: BOS: 5 @ DET: 6 [SOL]
Game 49: Jan. 20: BOS: 0 vs. CHI: 1 [L]
Game 50: Jan. 22: BOS: 1 @ PIT: 5 [L]
Game 51: Jan. 24: BOS: 4 vs. DET: 3 [OTW]
Game 52: Jan. 26: BOS: 4 vs. PIT: 3 [W]
Game 53: Jan. 31: BOS: 4 @ TBL: 3 [W]
Starting the new year with a record of 6-6-2 is not an ideal way to get things going. Despite all of the bad losses and inconsistency we have seen scattered throughout the 2016-2017 season, the Boston Bruins still hold a share of second place in the Atlantic Division with the Ottawa Senators. That might sound nice and all, but not when you see that the Bruins have played five more games than the Ottawa Senators. The end of the month consisted of a three-game winning streak. The weird thing about these three games is the fact that all of them ended in a 4-3 win for the Bruins. On Jan. 31, against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Patrice Bergeron recorded his 250th career NHL goal.
Top-Six Forwards playing very well: Patrice Bergeron
Speaking of Patrice Bergeron, he had five goals and eight assists, good for 13 points in 14 games during January. Bergeron really seems to be turning the corner after an uncharacteristically slow start to the season. Some speculated that he might have sustained an unknown injury, which might have been the case, but it doesn’t look like much is slowing him down anymore. Bergeron has had a big part in some fairly high scoring games as of late. The Bruins have scored four or more goals in four of their last six goals. In those four games, Bergeron has three goals, four assists.
January 2017 was an interesting ride for Brad Marchand. He got out of two questionable slew foot/tripping incidents, only having to pay $10,000 for the first offense on Detroit Red Wings Defenseman, Niklas Kronwall. Not only that, he was named the NHL’s second star of the month for January. He tallied an NHL-best 11 goals and an additional nine assists, good for 20 points in 14 games.
More recently, in his last four games, Marchand has six goals, three assists, and nine points. This prolific month helped Marchand become a point per game player (23-31-54 in 54 games) and climb into a third-place tie in the NHL in scoring with Pittsburgh Penguins forward, Evgeni Malkin. His best scoring output came on Jan. 14 against the Philadelphia Flyers at home, he had two goals and three assists. This was the second time Marchand tallied two goals and three assists in a game this season, he did it in the regular-season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets as well. Brad Marchand participated in his first NHL All-Star game this past weekend. Brad Marchand continues to establish himself as a high-end scorer in the NHL.
Despite only having one goal, David Pastrnak had a pretty good January. After an explosive start to the season in the goal department, Pastrnak has slowed down. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing with some other players picking up some of the slack and the fact that he is racking up the assists. He is having a very good season with 20 goals, 21 assists, 41 points in a plus-12 rating in 47 games. In January, he had the lone goal, an overtime winner against the Detroit Red Wings, and 11 assists in 14 games.
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David Krejci stayed on about the same monthly point pace that he has been on all season. Excluding a shorter month of October, Krejci had 11 points in November, 10 in December and 9 in January. Let’s just hope those totals don’t keep declining by one each month like they have so far. Despite the decline by month, it’s good to see some consistency there.
David Backes has been a disappointment in the eyes of many this season. After having just 3 pts and a minus-7 rating in 14 games in January, there is real reason to be concerned about the David Backes signing. Is it first-year nerves? I don’t think so, he’s a grizzled veteran that seems to enjoy living and playing in Boston. At this point, with 22 points in 46 games, I see Backes putting up around 40 points, which is decent, but not great from someone making the money that he does. If these struggles continue, critics about his contract will be hollering.
One could make the case that Frank Vatrano underperformed in January, but do we really know the typical production we should expect yet? The argument that can be made is that he is underperforming for a top-six forward, although not every top-six forward in the league produces at a high rate. Sure, he was incredible in the AHL with Providence, but, he’s still 22 years old and doesn’t have a full NHL season under his belt yet. A minus-10 rating in January is alarming for Vatrano though. Vatrano and Backes often play on the same line, could trading for some right-wing depth in order to make a run at the playoffs help?
Thomas Vanek is a rental name that comes to mind. Maybe acquiring someone like Vanek to take second line right-wing minutes could benefit Backes. I would be all for the Bruins trading for another winger that can score, and moving Backes down to third line center.
Much of the same from the Defensive Core
There were some good moments on the back end, but like so many times before, the bad offsets the good. We’ve definitely seen growth from guys like Colin Miller and Brandon Carlo, which is beautiful to see. But, we’ve also seen some mistakes that some overcriticize, which is unfair for young players at times. It appears, unless a trade is made, we will just see much of the same from this defensive core.
A rough month for Tuukka Rask
Tuukka Rask had some good games throughout January, but overall it wasn’t a great month. The fact that he started in 13 of the 14 January games doesn’t help, he’s not a superhuman. The Finnish netminder is getting tired. A serious need for the Boston Bruins is a capable backup goaltender, not a cheap free agent, a somewhat established goaltender. Who could that guy be? It’s tough to tell, but the free agent class has some decent options, this summer, but nothing spectacular. Some of these goalies include Steve Mason, Darcy Kuemper, Jonathan Bernier and Anders Nilsson. Unfortunately, right now it doesn’t look like McIntyre or Khudobin are good candidates for the backup goaltender position.
Unfortunately, the playoffs are looking farther and farther away as we go along with this Bruins team. Lack of consistency is what will kill this team if they don’t fix it. Let’s hope for a better month of February.
*Information as of 2/2/17 at 11:00 AM*