June 7, 2023

Welcome to the latest edition of the Boston Bruins’ 3 Up, 3 Down for the 2022-23 season. This will be a weekly column released on Mondays chronicling the highs and lows of the previous seven days.

After going 2-1-0 on a West Coast trip, the Boston Bruins returned home to the TD Garden last week for three games and went 2-0-1, but did not look like the best team in the NHL record-wise during those three contests. There is a lot that they need to address as they begin the final week before the three-day Christmas break beginning Dec. 24 with three games in five nights this week.

Boston Bruins 3 Up, 3 Down
Boston Bruins 3 Up, 3 Down (The Hockey Writers)

In this edition of Bruins 3 Up, 3 Down, two forwards remain hot offensively, the goaltending stands tall and some bad habits from earlier in the season are once again making an appearance in Boston’s play. Let’s fire up another edition of recapping the highs and lows of the last seven days for the Bruins.

Plus One: Taylor Hall & Jake DeBrusk Stay Hot

Since being moved down to the third line with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic, Taylor Hall is producing and it continued last week. Against the New York Islanders on Dec. 13, he picked up an assist on Jake DeBrusk’s second first-period goal, then he opened the scoring against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 15 when he sniped a wrist shot from the top of the left circle on a 6-on-5 advantage. Against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 17, he again scored a 6-on-5 goal on a delayed penalty call when he knocked home the rebound of a David Pastrnak shot. Hall has at least one point in nine of his last 10 games.

Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins
Taylor Hall, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

DeBrusk is just as hot as Hall right now and playing the best hockey of his career consistently. He scored two goals against the Islanders in the first period, redirecting a David Pastrnak shot on the power play, and then 19 seconds later his pass into the slot for Derek Forbort deflected off an Islanders’ defenseman and into the net. In the second period, he picked up the second assist on Forbort’s shorthanded goal. All this came 48 hours after scoring the game-winning goal in the third period against the Vegas Golden Knights when he one-timed a pass from Pavel Zacha to break a 1-1 tie in a 3-1 win.

Minus One: Bruins Showing Third-Period Cracks

The Black and Gold have been the best third-period team in the NHL this season through 30 games, however, there were cracks in their game last week that could be considered concerning going forward if they continue. Boston began the five-game homestand 14-0-0 when leading after two periods, but that number had its first dent next to it.

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Leading 3-2 against the Islanders, Casey Cizikas tied the game five minutes into the final period, but the Bruins were able to get a shootout win. Against the Kings, they took a 2-0 lead into the third period, only to have the visitors tie the game on two third-period goals by Adrian Kempe, the second coming on a two-man advantage with just 2:10 left in the game. Boston was not fortunate enough against Los Angeles in the shootout and lost in seven rounds to collect only one point in a game they deserved two. It may be just a blip right now, but it’s worth keeping an eye on as the season goes along.

Plus Two: Linus Ullmark Continues Stellar Run

There is no goaltender hotter right now in the NHL than Linus Ullmark. In his last 10 games, is 9-0-1, with the only loss being in the shootout to the Kings, in a game where he was brilliant, making 28 saves, several at point-blank range, and in reality deserved not only a win, but a shutout. During his 10-game stretch, he has a 1.52 goals against average (GAA) and a .947 save percentage. He is a big reason why the Bruins are atop the league standings 30 games into the season.

Minus Two: Penalties Becoming an Issue Again

In three games last week, the Bruins were whistled for 14 minor penalties. Against the Kings, two penalties seven seconds apart gave the visitors an extended two-man advantage which led to the game-tying goal with just 2:10 remaining in regulation. Against the Blue Jackets, five penalties, which led to both Columbus goals, were infractions that took place in the offensive zone or center ice. This is a trend that can be costly to the Black and Gold if it’s not addressed.

Plus Three: Jeremy Swayman’s Bounce-Back

Ullmark has been playing at a Vezina Trophy level this season, but he can’t play every night, which is why Jeremy Swayman’s bounce-back performance against the Blue Jackets was necessary.

Jeremy Swayman Boston Bruins
Jeremy Swayman, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Eight days had passed since his last game against the Arizona Coyotes and his 12-save performance in a 4-3 loss, but he made up for it against Columbus. He made a season-high 30 saves and bailed out his teammates who did not play the best 60 minutes in front of him. Despite the Bruins playing the first half of the game with a 1-0 lead, the former University of Maine standout kept the clean sheet making saves on Marcus Bjork at the end of the first period and Kent Johnson in alone in the second period. Boston does not get a win over the worst team in the Eastern Conference without Swayman’s effort.

Minus Three: Patrice Bergeron & Brad Marchand Lack of Production

The Bruins grinder out two wins out of three games last week, but it could have been easier if they had more production from Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Bergeron went pointless, while Marchand broke a point-less drought, but still only had a goal and an assist in three games.

Marchand found the back of the net against the Kings in the second period on the power play with a wrist shot under the crossbar, then had an assist against the Blue Jackets on a first-period power play goal by Pastrnak. Both Bergeron and Marchand are too good to keep down for a long time and once they get going again, it will make it easier on the rest of the lineup.

Two wins in three games is not a bad week, but the third-period meltdown against Los Angeles losing a point when they deserved two is tough to swallow. With the three-day Christmas break coming up at the end of this week, the next three games are going to be huge for the Black and Gold as they look to stay ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division standings.

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