In keeping with true fashion to cranking out these forecasts this season, once again I am a couple of games behind in terms of timeliness.
Nonetheless, the last few games don’t matter– they’re not taken into account for this latest forecast, but they are taken into consideration for future performance as a whole over the remaining “42” games at the time these projections were forecasted.
Halfway through the season, the Boston Bruins find themselves in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division standings. Despite all the injuries, despite the lack of depth scoring and despite all other areas of regression, the B’s are holding their own weight in a competitive division.
Bruce Cassidy‘s coaching style and compete level is something to be praised as they’ve weathered the storm, but now the question remains– can they take it to the next level?
General Manager, Don Sweeney, probably could opt for a scoring winger before the team goes down the stretch and into the playoffs, where, last year’s depth scoring dried up thanks, in part, due to a gamble that didn’t pay off in acquiring Rick Nash to help provide a spark on the second line.
This season’s team is righting the ship, but are they peaking too early? When will they peak if they aren’t starting to peak now?
Doubt will always enter the mind. True professionals ignore it and achieve.
Anyway, to avoid getting too much into coaching philosophy or whatever, let’s take a look at the most recent forecast for Boston and remember there are many variables that can and will change things. Being injured, called up, assigned, scratched, traded, lucky or unlucky will incur damage to the expected stats.
Unpredictable variables happen. Microsoft Excel knows none of that.
As always, my degree is in communication– not math. This forecast is just an utopian outlook for the Bruins if every player met expectations.
Should they do better, then they will have exceeded expectations. If they fall short, then they were injured, out of the lineup or whatever– they didn’t meet expectations and next season’s numbers will reflect a new benchmark for meeting expectations.
The nature of hockey is both contextually analytical and holistically unpredictable– nothing can account for sheer puck luck or the odd puck bounce, but whatever’s on the scoresheet every night can indicate general trends and be utilized for educated guesses.
Boston Bruins Forecast Through 40 Games (42 Games Remaining)
Boston’s expected leaders in points indicates an 80-point season for David Pastrnak for the second season in-a-row– and not only that, but a career-high in goals and points.
Pastrnak is forecasted to lead the Bruins with 39 goals and 43 assists (82 points) with linemate Patrice Bergeron (26-41–67 forecasted totals) expected to be second in the club’s scoring.
Second line center, David Krejci (15-45–60 expected totals) is bound to be third in Bruins scoring this season with Jake DeBrusk emerging from the haze of injury and a slow start to his sophomore season.
While Pastrnak is destined to lead his club in goals with 39 in the latest forecast, it appears he’ll be the only Bruin to reach the 30-goal plateau this season, as Brad Marchand is currently forecasted to end up with 27 goals this season.
Marchand has reached 30-goals for the last three consecutive seasons and the 20-goal plateau in seven out of his eight full seasons he’s played since 2010-11.
Should he reach 20 goals as expected this season, he’ll extend his scoring prowess to eight out of his nine seasons in the NHL.
Bergeron’s expected to follow suit with his teammates on what is one of the best lines in the league, ranking third in goals by season’s end with 26, despite missing 16 games due to a rib/sternoclavicular injury.
In assists, Marchand has emerged as much of a playmaker as he is a natural scorer with the current expectation of 47 assists this season, leading his teammates, Krejci (45 expected assists) and Pastrnak (43 expected assists).
Marchand set a career-high in assists with 51 last season and is on pace to reach at least 40 assists for the third consecutive season.
Noted playmaker and usual assist leading suspect, Krejci’s 45 assists would be his best since he had 46 assists in 72 games during 2015-16. Of note, Krejci has not missed a game so far this season.
Fellow Czech native, Pastrnak is the only other player to have appeared in every game so far.
On defense, Torey Krug remains supreme with 10-40–50 expected totals, despite missing 11 games thus far. Another 50 points this season would be the third consecutive season of reaching the 50-point plateau for Krug.
He matched his career-high in goals (14) and set a new career-high in assists (45) last season en route to a career-high 59-point year in 76 games played.
It’s very likely Krug may exceed expectations, so long as he’s healthy.
Young stallion, Charlie McAvoy is still on pace for breaking the 30-point benchmark this season, despite missing 23 games through this forecast due to a couple of injuries (namely, a concussion and a lower body injury after blocking a shot).
While McAvoy’s health may be worrisome this season, Matt Grzelcyk has stepped into more minutes with the expectations of a career-year with 3-19–22 forecasted totals.
In goal, Boston has seen some stellar action from Jaroslav Halak— though recently he has been trending in the other direction, Tuukka Rask has picked up his pace of play back to where it’s expected night-in and night-out.
Halak is on pace for a 2.42 goals against average, despite his 2.28 GAA in 22 games played as of this forecast. Still, a 2.42 GAA would be equivalent to his 2.43 GAA in 59 GP in 2014-15 with the New York Islanders.
His workload shouldn’t reach nearly 60 games this season, so there’s still hope he exceeds expectations and keeps his GAA low, while increasing his expected save percentage.
Currently, Halak is forecasted to finish the 2018-19 regular season with a .920 SV%– his highest since attaining a .920 SV% in 52 games in 2013-14 for the Islanders. He had a .919 SV% in 36 games with New York in 2015-16.
Whether Halak will regress back to his usual form remains to fully be seen.
As has been since Halak’s stellar performances early in the season outplayed Tuukka Rask, Cassidy will have to manage both of his goaltender’s time in the crease– keeping each fresh enough to remain hot and rested for a playoff stretch.
Rask, in the meantime, is currently forecasted to reach a 2.38 GAA, which would be the second consecutive season of a slightly worse goals against average since he had a 2.23 in 65 games played in 2016-17 (he had a 2.36 GAA in 54 GP last season).
However, a 2.38 GAA is still respectable, considering his 2.63 GAA in 20 appearances through Boston’s first 40 games this season.
Boston’s usual starting goaltender is on track for a .919 SV%, which would be Rask’s highest since amassing a .922 SV% in 70 games played in 2014-15– a season in which he was drastically overworked.
Rask’s career-high .931 SV% came in 2009-10, when he had stolen the starting job from Tim Thomas and played in 45 games.
He’s also had back-to-back seasons at .929 in 23 games in 2011-12 (while serving as Thomas’ backup) and in 36 games in 2012-13 (during the 48-game lockout-shortened season, in which Rask backstopped Boston to their 2013 Stanley Cup Final appearance).
Anything at or above .920 in terms of save percentage is usually widely praised. A .919 SV% is not that far off and might actually be more reflective of the increased offense league-wide, but that’s something to research on a different day.
Regardless, two goaltenders around .920 in save percentage and close to a 2.30 goals against average isn’t a bad thing to have. That’s what some might refer to as an effective “1A/1B” scenario.
Now fight it out in the comments over who is “1A” and who is “1B” in this case.