Boston Bruins: 5 Players Who Have Yet To Impress After 3 Games
At the conclusion of their season-opening, three-game homestand, the Boston Bruins have outscored their opponents, 5-4, yet hold a subpar 1-2-0 record.
That contrast in columns speaks to how inconsistent and out of sync the defending champions are in their first week after (ostensibly) turning the page. The fact they opened the season with a homestand of odd-numbered games, ran it on a loss-win-loss pattern, and finished it off with a Columbus Day setback to Colorado evokes memories of the rocky 2009-10 campaign.
As Sean Linden from the Slap Shot sequel might say, there is “still a whole lot of hockey to be played, son.” But by the same token, a gross multitude of Bruins could stand to use the upcoming 79 games to turn things around in a hurry. They must return to championship-caliber form and forget they were Stanley Cup champions four months ago.
The five players to watch the closest for improvement, starting with Wednesday night’s road opener in Carolina, are as follows.
Coming off a career year with a team-leading 30 goals and 62 points, Milan Lucic has one point so far this year. He has thrown a mere six shots on goal, with none in net.
As a team, the Bruins have given the puck away a cumulative 27 times in their first three games. Not only is Lucic the individual leader in that department with five turnovers, but he is also the only one with multiple giveaways in multiple outings.
That is not to mention he, along with linemates David Krejci and Nathan Horton, are tied for a team-low minus-two rating.
With 11 shots on goal in the opening homestand, Seidenberg is on pace to land a team-leading 297 stabs, which would be 131 more than the career-high he set last season.
So what’s the problem? In terms of those shots hitting the net, Seidenberg bears the dreaded Blutarsky average. Despite being the Bruins’ ice-time leader at 73:03, Seidenberg has no points to his credit yet.
In fact, Seidenberg has not so much as been on the ice for any of Boston’s five goals in the young stages of the season. However, he was out there on opening night for two separate shifts when the Philadelphia Flyers erased a 1-0 Boston lead, then took their own 2-1 advantage 47 seconds later.
It’s admittedly difficult to pin much criticism on someone who barely recovered from a concussion in time to dress for the regular season start.
Nonetheless, after three games, one should expect a little more out of Horton than zero points, a minus-two rating, and only one shot on goal.
Horton has been on the ice for the game-clinching goal in both of Boston’s losses and is one of five Bruins to have already taken multiple penalties.
One area where the Bruins are showing early consistency is the faceoff circle.
So far, three of their four regulars has a decisive winning record in that category, and everyone who has taken multiple draws in a game has finished the night at .500 or better.
Everyone, that is, except Kelly. After claiming nine out of 14 puck-drops against the Flyers last Thursday, the checking-liner lost five out of 14 against Tampa Bay, and four out of nine versus Colorado.
Patrice Bergeron is 28-18 so far, Gregory Campbell is 13-6 and even Krejci is 24-17.
Translation: All are above .500 in faceoffs by at least seven, whereas Kelly is one drop below that fence.
In fairness, Chara is often prone to slow starts on his personal resume. With the exception of last season, when it was even, his plus/minus rating has always been negative after the first three games during his Bruins career.
But this year’s start sticks out in that Chara has been on the ice for all four opposing goals over the first three outings.
Monday afternoon’s drawback to Colorado was the worst yet, as he and the rest of the Boston skaters were caught off guard by Milan Hejduk’s decider. Before that third-period strike, the captain took two of what would be four Bruins penalties in the opening stanza.
In addition, for the first time since his arrival—including the blunder year under the misguidance of Dave Lewis—Chara is pointless after three regular season games.