Early in the season, scoring depth was the biggest concern the Bruins faced. The top line was contributing a tick under 50 percent of the team’s overall offense, and secondary scoring wasn’t picking up any slack.
That changed at some point in the regular season. Partially due to necessity with the plethora of injuries they faced all year, but so many career-best seasons isn’t a coincidence, either.
Eight Bruins matched or passed career-highs in points. David Krejci notched his 20th goal of the season in the first period in the final game against the Lightning to reach 20 goals for the fourth time in his career.
That tally also cemented the B’s first team with five 20-goal scorers since they did it in 2013-14. He joined a group of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk and Brad Marchand, all of whom had career seasons as well.
The Bruins top line trio carried the offense early, and even with separate 16-game hiatuses from the lineup with injuries, Bergeron and Pastrnak managed to have the best offensive seasons of their careers.
That pair and Marchand finding that offensive success doesn’t scream depth, but a 27-goal season from DeBrusk — who had his outages at points — and Krejci (who missed one game all season, and not due to injury) reaching 73 points for the first time in 10 years shows there’s a layer there beyond the first group.
“The key is to feel good the whole season,” said Krejci. “I’ve been playing with some good players this year so they definitely make it easy on me.”
Past the 20 goal scorers, Chris Wagner, Noel Acciari, and Sean Kuraly all had career years, with Kuraly missing time late in the season.
On the blue line, Torey Krug‘s 47 assists were the most of his career, despite missing 18 games. Matt Grzelcyk‘s 18 points were a milestone in his second full NHL season.
Other players have struggled to reach previous success, with Danton Heinen taking a backseat on the scoresheet (despite an improved defensive presence) and a rough offensive season for David Backes.
The additions of Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle at the trade deadline has done the job as far as making the entire lineup deeper. Heading into the playoffs, the Bruins have a deeper group that how it looked at the start of the season, which is always the goal.
“We developed some chemistry and on the right side it’s been a little more challenging but we’ve played with a lot of players, so no matter who’s on my line now we know we have some chemistry, we know what to expect,” said Krejci. “We’re in good shape here.”
Kuhlman makes case
Karson Kuhlman’s performance in his limited time in his second NHL go-around has made things a little more difficult for the Bruins.
In 11 games, Kuhlman has posted five points, but the way he plays the game aligns with what the Bruins value. Since they’ve struggled to find a consistent right wing all season, he almost seems like a natural choice to have a role in the postseason.
We have enough confidence in him because
“He’s played lots of minutes,” said Cassidy. “He’s been good for us. Again tonight, right in front of the net on Heinen’s goal. He does these little things that endears himself to his teammates and the staff.”
As confidence from the coaching staff has developed, Kuhlman’s been able to zero in on how to keep getting better.
“I think puck position, a little bit. I’m building confidence day-by-day,” he said. “I think before I was kind of rushing plays and not letting plays come to me. Now I think I feel better out there making smaller plays and getting pucks to the net.”
Kuraly (broken hand) skated on Saturday, along with defenseman John Moore (upper-body). Both won’t be available for the first game against the Leafs, per Cassidy, but will be considered day-to-day afterwards.
Kevan Miller (upper-body) sat out on Saturday and the plan is to see how he progresses during the week.