What the Bruins have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving
What each Bruin has to be thankful for on Turkey Day
The Bruins have plenty to be thankful for on this Turkey Day. They are in a playoff spot and somehow still have an 11-6-4 record through their first 21 games of the season despite injuries hitting their roster at nothing short of a Biblical level. The rough times could be still to come with Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara out for the next month and the unrelenting NHL regular season schedule refusing to let up, but the Black and Gold have built a strong enough foundation that they should be able to survive the ongoing adversity hitting them.
So with that in mind, here’s a list of what each Bruins player, and head coach, GM and club president, has to be thankful for with the B’s resting in a playoff spot at Thanksgiving. That gives them a roughly 75 percent chance of making the playoffs this season, and those are pretty good odds with 60 plus games still left to play.
The 33-year-old Bruins center will miss the next month with a rib/chest injury after a bad spill into the boards, so it’s going to be a painful Thanksgiving for No. 37. But it wasn’t a season-ending injury and there’s plenty to be thankful for in that respect. One real downside beyond the obvious: A missed month will probably cost him the Selke once again this season even though he’s the best defensive forward in the game.
The dynamic Bruins winger has to be thankful for his growing hat collection after collecting a pair of hat tricks this season among his NHL-leading 17 goals on the year. After all, we all know that Pasta loves his hats.
The Bruins left winger has to be thankful for a chance at a third strike after already taking strike one and strike two with 10-minute misconducts after arguing bad calls to the referees. Marchand was understandably frustrated after each of the blown penalty calls on him, but he can’t take himself off the ice for 10 minutes at a pop. He’s just too valuable to this Bruins team.
The playmaking center has to be thankful for all the points he’s piled up in an incredibly quiet way this season. There’s a subtlety to Krejci where nothing he really does is loud or over the top, but 16 points in 20 games played this season is exactly the kind of production the Bruins would want from him.
The 22-year-old DeBrusk is thankful that he’s finally found his game with five goals and seven points over his last seven games after spending most of the first month trying to find the range. Additionally DeBrusk has to be thankful to the B’s coaching staff for putting net-front on that top power play unit as well.
The defenseman is thankful for being the leading scorer among Bruins D-men just about a quarter of the way into the season with a goal and eight points in 18 games while topping 20 minutes of ice time per game. It’s kind of amazing that the smallest D-man on the roster has really been the only one able to stay healthy.
The puck-moving D-man is thankful to be healthy after missing the first 11 games of the season with a left foot injury, and he’s just now starting to round into his normal productive form. The B’s are thankful he’s healthy too because he’s basically their de facto No. 1 defenseman right now.
The second-year Bruins D-man is thankful to be back on the ice practicing with the team after missing just about a month with a concussion suffered at some point in the early season. The talented McAvoy really needs to be able to string together a long stretch of healthy playing time just to see how good he can really be.
The Bruins winger is thankful that his offensive drought is over now that he’s put a couple of goals on the board after going the first 12 games of the season without a goal. Bottom line for Heinen is he needs to get more shots on net with just 22 shots on net in 18 games this season.
I’m sure the Bruins captain is thankful for any number of things with a happy, healthy family and an NHL career that’s still going at 41. I can tell you that we’re all happy for Chara’s Instagram account where he offers daily doses of Slovakian wisdom and gives everybody a look behind the curtain at his fascinating life off the ice.
The Swedish forward is thankful for the opportunity with the Bruins where he’s been largely a top-6 forward this season whether it’s playing wing on David Krejci’s line, or now stepping into a center spot with Patrice Bergeron injured and out of the lineup. As Riley Nash replacements go, Nordstrom has been pretty good for the B’s.
The Bruins center is thankful to be back in his comfortable fourth line center role after the B’s tried moving him up to the third line earlier in the season. It just doesn’t feel like Kuraly has the offense to play up in the lineup, and he looked much better back in his normal energy line center role once he was returned there.
The Bruins winger is thankful to still be with the NHL team after an opening 18 games where Bjork has just a goal and three points to show for his efforts. Sure he’s got the skating game and he’s definitely got some offensive talent, but it’s time for all that promise to start turning into points if he wants to stick around the NHL.
The fourth-line banger is obviously thankful to be back home in Boston playing for the Bruins team he grew up rooting for, and playing with a teammate in Noel Acciari that he’s skated with since his youth hockey days in the Boston area. Wagner has been a hard-hitting addition on a team that needs all the physicality it can get.
The newly signed Bruins defenseman is thankful that he came onboard at a time when a seemingly overcrowded D-men corps was all of a sudden beset by injuries. That gave Moore plenty of opportunities to play big minutes and in all situations before he, too, came down with an injury that put him on the shelf.
The 21-year-old D-man was thankful for the chance to once again play in a shutdown tandem with Zdeno Chara after the injury to Charlie McAvoy. Carlo was one of Boston’s best defensemen and was playing over 20 minutes a night until he suffered his own injury that’s had him out for the last couple of weeks.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
After not winning the third line center job out of training camp, young JFK is thankful for the chance to establish himself in the NHL, along with scoring the first goal of his NHL career in the win over the Coyotes. His big chance is being served to him on a silver platter and it’s up to him to seize it.
The second-round pick is simply thankful for the chance to play with the Bruins when it appeared at the beginning of this season like there’d be no shot for him with eight D-men signed to NHL contracts. My, how quickly things chance in the NHL.
The veteran Bruins D-man is certainly thankful for second chances after his first go-round with the Bruins ended with him getting dealt to Minnesota in exchange for the immortal Greg Zanon. Kampfer has been a valuable depth piece for the B’s on the back end given the injuries, but is at a point now where he’s probably getting a bit overexposed with all the penalties he’s taking.
Backes is clearly thankful to have made a quick recovery from his last concussion suffered this season, but it’s also clear that the 34-year-old is losing some of the bite and effectiveness from his game. Backes has one point and just four penalties in 15 games this season and hasn’t really played up to the power game that Boston absolutely needs from him. It remains to be seen if it comes back with a steady diet of playing time, but the Bruins could really use a Backes resurgence right about now.
The young Bruins forward is thankful for the opportunity he had in Boston at the beginning of the season, but it was clear he needed more time to develop in the AHL once the goals stopped coming for him. The hope is that some time spent in the American League will make him more well-rounded and effective when he comes back.
The Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is thankful for good health again as he returned to the lineup just ahead of Thanksgiving. The Bruins defense and penalty kill sorely needs Miller in the defensive zone, just as they need somebody that plays with a little snarl to protect their skill players.
The fourth line energy forward is thankful as always to be playing for his hometown Bruins team, but Acciari does need to step it up a little bit. He’s got zero goals and is a minus-6 through the first quarter of the season, and hasn’t played with the same brutal physicality that he regularly features in his game.
The 34-year-old goalie is thankful to be the right guy in the right place at the right time as his stint with the Bruins has been almost too good to be true. The 7-2-2 record, the 2.07 goals-against average and the .935 save percentage are all indicative of a goalie that’s been on top of his game over the first six weeks.
The Bruins No. 1 goalie is thankful for an organization that gave him some time to sort out things with a personal leave of absence, and has played like it since coming back to the team. Now, it’s a matter of Rask heating up in November and December and becoming the dominant mid-season goaltender that he’s been in the past.
The Bruins head coach has to be thankful for the good health for him and his coaching staff after watching so many of his players succumb to injuries in the first quarter of the season. Credit to Cassidy and his staff for adjusting their game plan and simplifying things recently in a way that’s allowed them to play a little bend-but-don’t-break style while awaiting some reinforcements.
The Bruins GM should be thankful that more of his forwards haven’t been hurt in this early season scourge that’s seen so many of his defensemen dinged in an area where they had some depth. Certainly some of the liberties and questionable hits will be curbed when Kevan Miller and Zdeno Chara return, but it’s plain to some that the Bruins need to add a little more toughness to their lineup. Not a cheap shot tough guy like Zac Rinaldo of a few years ago, but a legit tough guy like they traded to New York in Adam McQuaid. Getting somebody to protect their players would be a good idea before somebody tries to take a serious run at the red-hot Pastrnak.
The Bruins President has much to be thankful for. A loyal fan base that’s created a long sellout streak at TD Garden, a young, talented team that’s made the playoffs two years in a row and is trending upward and a GM that’s put them in a flexible position with assets and cap space to be able to make improvements. The ironic thing is that it feels like the on-ice product could actually use a Neely-like player but unfortunately the NHL doesn’t produce those kinds of power forwards anymore on a regular basis.