The Boston Bruins and the rest of the NHL are nearing the annual trade deadline. Through 60 games played, the Bruins are currently 2nd in the Atlantic Division with a 35-17-8 record (78 points) behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (46-11-4, 96 points).
Wednesday night, the B’s will play their 61st game of the season when they visit the Vegas Golden Knights (new forecast coming soon for that club too), but before they do that, here’s a quick review and a glimpse of what could be based on this latest forecast with 22 games remaining in the 2018-19 regular season for Boston.
After getting off to a quick start in October, despite a blowout on Opening Night, the Bruins fell into a bit of a lull in November and December.
Jaroslav Halak (15-9-4 record, 2.35 goals against average, .923 save percentage in 30 games played) helped carry the weight through November, before regressing towards the end of December into January. As long as the wins rolled in, the team was making progress.
Tuukka Rask (20-8-4, 2.45 GAA, .918 SV% in 33 GP) has not lost in regulation in his last 15 starts as the B’s carry a six-game winning streak into Vegas for Wednesday night’s matchup.
Though Halak is expected to start against the Golden Knights, Rask and his counterpart have formed a solid 1A/1B option for the Bruins all season long– considering league scoring is up and the B’s have allowed the 3rd fewest goals against (155) in the league, behind only the New York Islanders (138) and Dallas Stars (154).
The Bruins went 7-7-0 in December and improved to 6-3-3 in January.
Yes, I know that’s still a .500 win-percentage, but points percentage wise, that’s 14 out of 28 possible points in December and 15 out of a possible 24 points in January (progress!).
Yet, by the end of January and through all of February thus far, the B’s have been starting to reach another gear.
The first line has been consistent all year, while General Manager Don Sweeney is in search of the last missing piece among top-six forwards to complete the second line.
Meanwhile, Sweeney was working the trade deals on Wednesday, acquiring Charlie Coyle (10-18–28 totals in 60 games played this season, 91-151–242 totals in 479 career games) from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Ryan Donato (3-6–9 totals in 34 games, 11-7–18 totals in 46 career NHL games) and a conditional 2019 5th round pick.
If the Bruins advance to the Second Round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, then the 5th round pick becomes a 2019 4th round pick (originally belonging to the New York Rangers, previously acquired by the Bruins along with Steven Kampfer in exchange for Adam McQuaid on Sept. 11, 2018).
Coyle will boost Boston’s third line and can play second line minutes if necessary, but isn’t the end-all, be-all solution for a Cup run.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s a look at the latest Bruins forecast– keeping in mind there are many variables that can and will change things, like injuries and/or being called up, assigned, traded, lucky or unlucky.
This forecast is a glimpse at expected outcomes.
If a player does better, then they exceeded expectations. If said player does worse, then they didn’t meet expectations (for one reason or another).
My degree is in communication– not math– and hockey is naturally steeped in context and holistic unpredictability. Nothing can account for sheer puck luck, the odd bounce or a blown call.
Whatever’s on the scoresheet every night can indicate general trends that can be deciphered to make educated guesses.
Boston Bruins Forecast Through 60 Games Played (20 Games Remaining)
First, I know what you’re thinking, “but Nick, how come you still have Donato on the roster still and haven’t included Coyle?”
There’s two parts to my answer: 1) I ran this forecast after the conclusion of Monday night’s, 6-5, overtime win against the San Jose Sharks, so 2) the Coyle-Donato trade was made early in the writing of this post, so Coyle’s forecast will be reflected at a later date.
Second, I know you’re also looking at Jake DeBrusk’s expected stats saying “uh, there’s only 20 games left, he can’t possibly score 21 more goals and amass 16 more assists for a total of 65 points this season” and you’re right.
With DeBrusk’s recent scoring stretch over the last 20 games, his latest forecast gives a bit of a look at what could have been if he hadn’t been going through streaks like he has.
The same can be applied to David Pastrnak’s expected 32-37–69 totals. Prior to getting injured, Pastrnak’s last forecast had him around the 40-goal plateau.
After his left thumb surgery– in addition to having missed the last few games, as well as his recent decline in goal scoring over the last 20 games– his numbers are more in line with what to expect when he returns, whenever that is.
At best, Pastrnak misses the “at least” two weeks he was supposed to miss, makes his return and picks up as close to where he left off as possible.
At worst, he only scores a few more goals this season after returning later than expected (in the best-case scenario), but is back to being his normal self in a postseason run.
Anyway, Boston’s offense looks like it’ll be led by Brad Marchand with 85 points on the season. Marchand also looks to lead the team in assists with 58 expected apples, topping Patrice Bergeron (49 expected assists), Torey Krug (48) and David Krejci (47).
In goal scoring, Pastrnak remains supreme with 32 expected goals, leading Bergeron (28 expected goals), Marchand (27) and Krejci (16).
On defense, Krug (9-48–57 expected totals) dominates the two-way aspect of the game from the blue line, despite missing a chunk of time due to injury earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, Charlie McAvoy (7-22–29 expected totals) and Matt Grzelcyk (2-18–20 expected totals) continue to be vital assets alongside their captain and anchor, 41-year-old (soon to be 42-years-old on March 18th), Zdeno Chara (5-11–16).
In goal, Rask is destined to settle in with a 2.37 GAA and a .921 SV%, while Halak backstops the team to a 2.40 GAA, as well as a .921 SV% himself.
That’s some consistent goaltending in the crease and plenty to smile about if Sweeney can add more offensive prowess in secondary scoring and perhaps add a depth blue line asset for the playoffs.