Boston Bruins

  • Last year, it took the Bruins almost half a season for a second-line center to emerge.

    Even then, the player they landed on (Erik Haula) as the optimal fit between David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall, had his limitations as a consistent scoring threat. But if Wednesday was any indication of what’s to come, this Bruins team won’t have to worry about any limitations with their second line so long as David Krejci is at pivot.

    Back on NHL ice for the first time since the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 36-year-old Krejci came through with a much-needed insurance marker late in the third period, and added two helpers in what finished as a 5-2 Bruins win. Krejci’s production was quite literally the difference between a blowout victory and a tied game through 60 minutes of play.

    “It’s gonna be different for him. It’s obviously different coming from big ice [in Europe] to small [in the NHL],” Pastrnak said of Krejci’s return. “He’s only going to get better, and he already looks pretty good to me.”

    The benefit of that, not only for the Bruins’ second line but for the B’s roster as a whole, cannot be understated.

    Deployed for a staggering four minutes more than the next-closest trio at five-on-five, the Krejci line, flanked by Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha for an ‘All Czechia’ line, the Zacha-Krejci-Pastrnak trio finished the night with a team-leading 54.55 corsi-for percentage, and were on the ice for an 8-7 scoring chance advantage. The trio also ate up offensive-zone minutes again and again, proving to be Jim Montgomery’s go-to grouping with the Bruins out there hunting for goals.

    It was a continuation of the preseason in that respect, too, as Krejci-Pastrnak simply danced around the offensive zone, with a bevy of spin-o-ramas and no-look passes that put Capitals netminder Darcy Kuemper in a torture chamber.

    And what you saw was a proper trickle-down effect that played to the strength of Boston’s others lines.

    The Bruins didn’t ask Patrice Bergeron to everything on Opening Night (not that he couldn’t, of course), and the Bruins were able to ice their third and fourth lines as energy lines with a focus on utilizing their speed (Jakub Lauko on line four) and wearing down the Capital defense with extended possession time (the third line with A.J. Greer to the left of Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith). It provided the grind the Bruins needed to wind Washington’s defense, and really leave it up to the Capitals’ forwards to do everything to put a potential comeback on the table.

    “I think it’s an important start for the whole group,” Pastrnak, who finished with a game-high four points, admitted after the win. “It’s good for us to win these kind of games when we are short a couple of key players.”

    The Krejci line was also out there for both Washington goals scored, sure, but that’s all part of the trade-off at play here.

    “You talk about risk-reward, that’s a line that’s risk-reward,” Montgomery quipped.

    The good news, is that with that line’s ceiling now compared to 2021-22, the rewards will always be worth the risk.

    Here are some other leftover thoughts and notes from an Opening Night win in DC

  • Bruins can’t escape D.C. without an injury

    MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 21: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. The Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 21: Jake DeBrusk #74 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

  • Unfortunately for the Bruins, they were unable to escape Wednesday night in Washington without an injury, as the team lost Jake DeBrusk after two periods of play due to an upper-body injury.

    The injury appeared to occur in the first period when DeBrusk was in a cross-checking battle with the Capitals’ Erik Gustafsson and fell down awkwardly on his side. On the bench, the NHL on TNT cameras caught DeBrusk clutching and feeling at his right wrist/arm area.

  • DeBrusk, who opened the year as the B’s top-line right wing, tried to finish the game and actually took a few more shifts after the run-in with Gustafsson, but did not return to the ice for the third period.

    The Bruins did not have an update on DeBrusk following the win.

  • Derek Forbort has a monster effort in win

    MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 21:  Derek Forbort #28 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada.  The Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 21: Derek Forbort #28 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

  • All eyes were on the Bruins’ revamped defensive approach in this contest. But one player who (for the most part) stuck to his roots and put forth a monster showing: Derek Forbort.

    Boston’s defense-first rock on the left side, Forbort finished his season debut with a team-leading 23:36, including 4:35 for a B’s penalty kill that went a perfect 4-for-4 by the night’s end. Forbort was also credited with five hits, and his six blocked shots were tops among all Boston skaters. What makes the night even more impressive was Fobort’s steady diet of the 6-foot-6 Aliaksei Protas and Alex Ovechkin at five-on-five, with 5:40 of five-on-five against Protas and 5:31 against Ovechkin.

    Oh, and if you’re looking for a little extra pop from Forbort’s night, that came with a foot-race won by Forbort for a feed to Pavel Zacha, who sparked the breakout on Krejci’s win-sealing goal late in the third period.

    There’s going to be an awful lot of talk regarding Boston’s defense and who should be the odd man out when the team is fully healthy, but nights like the one Forbort put forth in Game 1, as well as his unwavering willingness to do the dirty work, should provide him with ton of job security.

  • Loco for that Lauko: 2018 pick makes NHL debut

    Sep 26, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Boston Bruins center Jakub Lauko (94) skates with the puck as Washington Capitals defenseman Martin Has (61) defends during the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 26, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Jakub Lauko (94) skates with the puck as Washington Capitals defenseman Martin Has (61) defends during the first period at Capital One Arena. (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

  • A nice little start to the season came with Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery’s decision to throw forward Jakub Lauko, finally in the NHL four years and change since the Bruins took him with a third-round pick, right onto the ice as a starter in his NHL debut.

    “To be honest, I was kinda happy that I was a starter because I didn’t have time to think about it,” Lauko said after the game. “I think I played a pretty decent game [too], so I was happy with the whole evening.”

    It was a move that yielded results the Bruins had hoped for, too, as Lauko played an efficient game that included three hits and two penalties drawn in 11:36 of action as Boston’s fourth-line right wing.

    “Really pleased [with his game],” Montgomery said.

    Montgomery’s happiness with Lauko’s game almost goes without saying. Speaking earlier this week, Montgomery explained that Lauko pushed his way into an NHL gig with his speed, tenacity, and his fearlessness. You saw that with both penalties drawn by Lauko, and his willingness to be an aggressive penalty killer was a necessity against a vaunted Washington power play loaded with weapons.

    “If I feel like I’m gonna build on this game, it’s gonna be better and better,” Lauko said. “For me, I trust my abilities and my upside. I just need to adjust to the pace of the game for the guys that are playing against me. The last two years, I haven’t PK’d much, and now I’m PK’ing against Ovi and Kuznetsov, so it’s a big step up.”