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Bean: This isn't just a Pastrnak problem for the Bruins offense

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The Bruins are without their best scorer. The Bruins don't score goals.

One equals the other, right? Eh.

Of course, the Bruins could desperately use David Pastrnak's services right now, but their issue is bigger than one player. They're just getting a reminder that their group at forward isn't enough.

The Bruins needed help on the wings this summer. Getting Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie at the trade deadline last season provided them a couple of scratch tickets, but it didn't solve their lack of secondary scoring. They learned that when the two combined for just one goal in two rounds last postseason. Signing Craig Smith in free agency gave them a sure thing in the middle six, but they needed more than just one guy.

Monday's 1-0 loss to the Islanders illustrated that.

With Kase out, the Bruins moved Jake DeBrusk to the right wing of Patrice Bergeron's line, leaving Boston with no real second line, but a couple of third lines instead (Ritchie-Krejci-Studnicka, Bjork-Coyle-Smith). Though the Bruins controlled the play against the Islanders, they were shut out, making it three straight games without an even-strength goal to begin the season. They've scored just three goals (two on the power play, one shorthanded) on the young campaign. 

Everything but Net

The Bruins have scored three goals in three games, and their 1.00 goals/game average ranks dead last (31st) in the NHL.
1.00

That lack of scoring isn't a "they need Pastrnak" thing. Sure, they need him, but that tells a bigger story about a team that finished 18th in 5-on-5 goals last season and only made one addition. Nick Ritchie was the extra attacker to end Monday's game, which speaks to the lack of depth. 

 

As for how badly they need Pastrnak, the Bergeron line hasn't managed a goal without him thus far, regardless of whether it's been Jack Studnicka, Anders Bjork or DeBrusk skating alongside Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

So it's not like once Pastrnak returns, the Bruins can solve their issue of scoring depth by, say, giving him to David Krejci. If none of the lines are scoring, the Bruins will probably just give Pastrnak to the Bergeron line so, like last season, they at least have one line.

But one line isn't enough. The Bruins are in a difficult division and don't have the defense they did in years past. This is a season in which they're taking multiple leaps of faith: that Jeremy Lauzon can be a first-pairing defenseman, that Jakub Zboril is an NHL defenseman, that Kase is a top-six right wing, that Nick Ritchie is a middle-six wing and that everyone will stay healthy.

So far, pretty rough.

Kase is on IR, Matt Grzelcyk -- the only sure thing on the left side of Boston's defense -- got hurt and none of the hopeful fixes at forward have worked. It's only three games in, but the Bruins are seeing the speed bumps that could be expected from not making sufficient improvements in the offseason.

Pastrnak's eventual return will help, but how much can it really? Scoring depth was an issue for the Bruins even with him. They might be in for a similar problem this season.