There were plenty of players on this Bruins team that had disappointing seasons. Then there were some players on the Bruins who had career years. Yet even though the Bruins scored the 5th most goals in the NHL this season they still had a majority of their forwards under perform. Or maybe these players did not under perform, maybe some players did not meet expectations? Either way, let’s rip the band-aid off some key cogs in this seasons roster.
The Under Achivers/Did not meet expectations:
We expected 20 goals from Brett Connolly, and Jimmy Hayes. Instead, Hayes and Connolly had 21 goals combined. Personally, I thought Connolly got more of a raw deal and is a better player than Hayes. Although he was getting top 6 minutes earlier in the season, he was not shooting the puck a whole lot, instead being more of a distributor. And when he was firing he was flat out snake bitten. Connolly, who is the type of player whose skills would benefit from playing on the power play, never got a real chance there either. I also think when he was playing with Marchand and Bergeron he was not playing his game. He could not have been that bad since Bergeron and Marchand had a career years while skating with Connolly. But once he was moved to the 4th line with Acciari and Ferraro he was shooting more. That line was dynamic, but Claude decided Hayes should dress instead of Connolly.
Jimmy Hayes was the bigger disappointment. He had more points than Connolly, but Connolly was more consistent in my opinion. Hayes had 29 points, but he scored a third of his total points in just 3 games. On October 14th against the Avalanche he had 4 points. On October 27th against the Coyotes he had 3 points and on December 29th against the Senators he scored a hat trick. Hayes only scored 7 points between January 1 and the end of the season. That’s a stretch of 41 games. Over that same stretch of time Connolly only played in 25 games, but had 9 points. So can you honestly tell me why Claude kept playing Jimmy Hayes and and scratching Connolly? It is pretty clear to me that Connolly was/is the better player even if you jus based it off of physicality and usefulness of the 4th line.
I would like to see the Bruins try to move Hayes, but it will not be easy. I would also like to see them give Connolly another shot somewhere in the lineup. He is still young enough where he can figure it out. He will be a restricted free agent and I do not think it will take much to get him signed.
I would also consider David Krejci as a player that did not met expectations. We now know that he was dealing with a bad hip for a part of the season and it will require surgery this summer. This will explain why his skating did not look good down the stretch. Now we know why Rick Nash flat out beat him in a late season race for the puck, when Krejci had a 10 foot head start.
Really the reason I feel Krejci did not meeting expectations is due to his hot start and injuries. He ended up with a fantastic 63 points in 72 games, but he scored 15 points in October. Then he was between 9-12 points for each month after that except for January where he only played in 4 games. Looking at the stats he was pretty good. When he came back from injury in January he continued to put up points, but he did not look the same and the power play suffered from it. What is frustrating about this is it’s the second year in a row that David Krejci had a major injury. If Krejci would have played more than 4 games in January the Bruins would most likely made the playoffs. Same with last year. When you miss the playoffs by a slim margin having one of your star players get hurt for an extended period of time makes all the difference is getting an extra 1-2 points along the way. It might be time to move on from Krejci. It is starting to look like a trend with him.
David Pastrnak is another player that did not meet expectations. Like David Krejci this is largely due to injury. Pastrnak broke a bone in his foot and missed almost half of the season (31 games). But when Pastrnak was in the lineup he produced. Toward the end of the season he was one of only a hand few of players that actually showed up. It was a fluke injury (blocking a shot), but we expected much more from the 19-year-old. I certainly will look for more next season. If Pastrnak would not have been injured he would have easily scored 20-25 goals on the season. He had 15 in 51 games played. If he would have played all 82 games and scored at the same rate he did when playing he would of had 24 goals. 9 more goals scored could have helped the Bruins win another game or two as well.
Injuries are not an excuse. Every team goes through them. The good teams are the ones that have the depth to withstand those injuries.
Obviously Zac Rinaldo was a huge disappointment, but I am not even going to get into that. It is not worth my time.
The Over Achivers/Met expections:
The Bruins’ had three 30 goal scorers this season for the first time in 13 years. There is no denying that Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Loui Eriksson exceeded expectations this season.
Bergeron scored a career high with 32 goals. His 68 points were his third most points in a season. He had 73 points in his 2nd season and 70 points in his 3rd season when overall scoring in the NHL was a bit higher.
Marchand ‘s previous season high in goals was 28, so his 37 goals scored this year breaks his career high by a large margin. Marchand also had a career high in points with 61. I do not think anyone could have predicted Marchand would have scored 37 goals. Bruins fans should not expect that from Marchand again, but I do think it is fair to expect the 30-goal mark as the standard now.
This season was Loui Eriksson’s second 30-goal season and it could not have come at a better time for him since it was a contract year for him. I actually do not think the fact that Loui being in a contract year had anything to do with his increased production. He was playing top-6 minutes all season and was on the first power play unit. In seasons past he was on the 3rd line and the 2nd power play unit. Eriksson’s 63 points was the most points in a season since the 2011-2012 season. He is heading for a big pay day and the only way I see the Bruins signing him is if he takes a discount in either years, money or both.
Ryan Spooner had a very good end of the previous 2014-2015 season after getting called up to the Bruins and getting the opportunity to play with David Krejci being injuryed. With that being said we still did not know what to expect from Spooner coming into his first full season with the Bruins. I felt Spooner had a bit of a slow start, but he had a monster January filling in for David Krejci while he had another injury. Spooner had 13 points in January, but he then had a slow finish of the season.
Spooner finished with 13 goals and 39 assists for 49 points. He played in 80 games and even showed some verisitility by playing both center and left wing. Depending on the moves GM Don Sweeney makes this summer I could see Spooner moving to the wing full time. Spooner provides speed and skill that the Bruins deperately need.
Matt Beleskey is also a player you would classify as meeting expectations and it’s not for the exact reasons we thought. We thought he could maintain his 20-goal production and bring a bit of an edge. Instead, he fell short of 20 goals (15) but set a career high in points (37). He also went above and beyond in the physicality and energy expectations. He was buzzing all night, every night, and even when the games looked ugly he was always one of the few in the fight. I expect we’ll see him in the 40-point range next season with a better start now that he’s acclimated to Boston and Claude’s system.
And lastly, at this time last year Frank Vatrano was somewhat of an unknown. He had just finished his first and only season at UMass-Amhurst where he scored 18 goals in 36 games. He added 10 assists for 28 points. Not what you would consider “wow factor” stats in the NCAA.
The Bruins had Vatrano lose some weight and it seems to have made all the difference. Vatrano scored a combined 44 goals this season (36 goals in the AHL and 8 in the NHL). He has speed and a great shot and also loves to hit. Vatrano was a nice surprise this season. With continued development he could be a nice find for the scouting department since Vatrano was not drafted and simply signed as a free agent.
Looking at the list certainly makes for an interesting off season. Who stays? Who goes? This team needs a major overhaul, but I do not think Bruins ownership is going to allow this. Home playoff games are too valuable financially and I can’t help but wonder how much executives and the Jacobs family put that task on the Bruins management to get that done rather than let them focus more on development, rebuilding, and taking one for the long term health of the organization this season. I hope this is not the case, but I think it is. Time will tell just what kind of fireworks will shake up the forward group this offseason.