B’s battling offensive struggles
While the Bruins started off the year facing obstacles on their blue line, their defense doesn’t seem to be the problem, as of late. While still searching for consistency as Zdeno Chara nears his return, the scrutiny is now on the Bruins offense. We’re all wondering the same thing: where are all the goals?
While the team’s best offensive player, David Krejci, has been out for the last six games with an undisclosed injury, the rest of the team’s offense has been less than dazzling. Per WEEI’s DJ Bean, the Bruins have been shut out three times so far this season, and have put up less than three goals in their last 10 games. They are 23rd in the NHL, averaging 2.35 goals per game.
Brad Marchand leads their team in goals with a whopping six. Reilly Smith, who ended last season with 20 goals and 31 assists, has four goals and six assists so far this year. In the past ten games, Smith hasn’t found the back of the net – though Monday night’s game against Anaheim saw an extreme amount of urgency around the net that has been missing in Smith’s game for a while. The B's are also looking for potential solutions in forwards David Pastrnak and Matt Fraser - players with a tendency to shoot. Fraser has proved to be a decent triggerman in the past, and while Pastrnak is small and is knocked off of pucks easily, he has an innate ability to see the ice and make plays. The play Pastrnak created that led to his first NHL point on Monday against the Ducks proved that - while Marchand's goal was off of a rebound from Ducks' goalie Frederick Andersen's stick, it was Pastrnak's intended pass to Milan Lucic that created the play.
While coach Claude Julien and the team are coming up with plenty of reasons as to why the goals aren’t coming, it is clear that the team needs to find a solution – and to find one fast. Julien has been trying different line combinations since the start of the season, and a few seem to be sticking; Lucic, Carl Soderberg, and Loui Eriksson have great chemistry together, and Lucic has looked comfortable alongside the two of them. Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak looked great against Winnipeg, but Pastrnak was replaced with Smith on Tuesday night. As Bean pointed out, Julien has reasoned that the Bruins are also not getting the calls and power plays that they should be – but again, that shouldn’t be an excuse.
As skilled as he is, it’s hard to believe that Krejci is the solution that will fix the Bruins’ offensive woes. There’s no denying that his team has faced an insane amount of obstacles in a short amount of time. Resiliency has always been a pillar of this team, and while the effort is sometimes there, this year’s Bruins have looked far different from the team we’ve seen in the past. The Bruins will have to battle on, and hope that they find the answer to their offensive issues in the near future. Peter Chiarelli: Scouting in Buffalo, Chicago?
While the Bruins made their way across the country for a four-game West Coast trip, General Manager Peter Chiarelli seemed to be doing some traveling of his own. On Tuesday, Sabres correspondent Joe Yerdon confirmed that Chiarelli had traveled to the First Niagara Center in Buffalo and was talking to people in the press box. Just a day later, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune tweeted that there was a seat reserved for Chiarelli in the United Center press box, home of the Chicago Blackhawks.
It seems that Chiarelli is taking these trips to find a solution (or solutions) for the Bruins’ depleted offense. Chris Stewart’s name has been linked to the Bruins for a while now, and it looks like the Sabres are shopping the forward around. A trip to Chicago could indicate that the Blackhawks are looking to fix salary cap issues. Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus suggested that the Blackhawks are willing to offer forwards Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell, as well as defenseman Brent Seabrook in exchange for draft picks and prospects. The latter makes the most sense for the Bruins; they obtained a few draft picks from the New York Islanders in exchange for Johnny Boychuk in October, and a few of their prospects – such as Ryan Spooner – seem to not be sticking with the big club for more than a few games at a time. Either way, it seems that Chiarelli is searching for players that could provide more offense for the struggling Bruins.
Craig Cunningham returns to Providence
Per the AHL transactions page, forward Craig Cunningham was returned to Providence on December 3, after being recalled on November 30. Cunningham did not dress for games against the Ducks and the Kings.