BOSTON – The Bruins played a couple of “must win” games on the road in St. Louis and Chicago last weekend, and 6-foot-6 forward Jimmy Hayes was scratched for both of them. That should paint a fairly accurate picture for the frustration level with the massive winger and Dorchester, Mass. native given the equally massive lack of production Hayes has provided for the Black and Gold recently.
The 26-year-old finished the month of March with zero points and a minus-6 in 13 games, and had also been scratched in the California road finale against the Los Angeles Kings as well. Instead the Bruins have opted for Landon Ferraro, Noel Acciari and Seth Griffith on the fourth line where the Providence call-up didn’t do much with a couple of games to show his stuff either.
With Brett Connolly out of the lineup with a lower body injury, it will likely come down to either Griffith or Hayes again on Tuesday night against the Hurricanes. Hayes said that he’s hoping it’s him, but his voice didn’t sound nearly as confident as the words he was using.
“When you can help the team and contribute then it’s tough to do that when you’re being scratched, but you’ve got to stay positive, continue to work hard and find a way to get back into the lineup,” said Hayes, who hasn’t scored a goal since Feb. 24. “When you get the opportunity, you make the best of it and stick.”
It’s a little far-fetched to think Hayes is suddenly going to carry the Bruins in the last three games after posting 13 goals and 29 points in 74 games this season, but he can be a factor if he can move his big 221-pound frame toward the net. He’s always proven to be a streaky player at the NHL level that perhaps needs reminders like healthy scratches every once in a while, and seems to be picking up the message that Claude Julien is sending in the last two games.
“It’s definitely a message, and you definitely need to continue moving forward,” said Hayes. “I think it’s all about hard work, being consistent and finding a way to contribute. You can get out of these funks by working hard and going to the net, and hopefully get a greasy one to get going in a positive direction.”
At this point should Hayes draw back into the lineup, he just needs to do something to be a factor out on the ice. Nobody as big and physically strong as Hayes should have stretches of games where he’s not even noticed on the ice, and Hayes has produced a few too many of those while his team needs his best down the stretch.
Now he’s only got three games to change that if he gets another chance to “make the best of it, and stick” in the lineup for the B’s.