With another game in the books at Madison Square Garden, Brett Connolly has gone 18 games without a goal.
Connolly, who was a healthy scratch against Ottawa on Saturday night, in which the Bruins lost, 2-1 in overtime, Boston was missing a different element of Connolly's game besides his lack of scoring. The Bruins missed Connolly's durability. In Friday night's 4-1 win over the Devils, Connolly played a complete game, all except for scoring. In 14:50 of ice time, the winger made a strong impression on his head coach with grit and strong skating.
"When you look at Connolly, I thought he played a good game," Claude Julien told The Boston Globe after Friday's win. "He skated. He was strong on the puck. He made good plays again." But Julien turned the tables quickly on Connolly, calling him up to the press box for the Bruins' second installment of their five-game road trip.
Much like watching over his film from this season, watching the game unfold from the press box can be equally advantageous for a struggling scorer. He can gain more patience. He can learn from his mistakes. He can loosen his grip on the stick and take more shots.
Newcomer and rookie Frank Vatrano has played in 13 fewer games in comparison to Connolly. Vatrano has recorded 64 shots, while Connolly has landed 51 shots on net. In 38 games, Connolly has just five goals.
Friday night's game was, in fact, a positive for Connolly. His second-line mates Matt Beleskey and Ryan Spooner were active from puck-drop and contributed to a pair of Boston goals. The group was on the ice for Spooner's second period strike. In the third, it was the forechecking of Connolly who helped develop Colin Miller's one-timer goal.
On Monday, Connolly came dangerously close to ending the drought. With less than a minute to play in the second, Connolly pounced on a juicy rebound off Henrik Lundqvist from a Zach Trotman slapper. Connolly curled and dragged the puck into center ice, and took a hard wrist shot that that beat Lundqvist and dented the inside of the post and trickled out.
That play, in essence, was a hallmark of Connolly's game. He jumped on a loose puck, put himself in a scoring position, and played his game.
While Connolly has appeared to be snakebitten, Julien has done his part to help. Julien has played mix-and-match with Connolly on line pairings regularly. He's played on the first line as right wing. He's played with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. On Monday, he played left wing with Joonas Kemppainen and Jimmy Hayes, who scored in the second period against the Rangers.
The last goal Connolly scored came on Nov. 27 against the Rangers with a power play goal. His last even-strength goal was on Oct. 27.
The Bruins simply need more.
Connolly has the raw talent to make things happen with the puck. He has the offensive touch and shot to become a 30-goal scorer, but it just has yet to unfold for the 23-year-old.
The Bruins need more offensive patience from Connolly moving forward. He needs a goal-scoring presence in a lineup that has few forwards with a pedigree of sniping goals.
Connolly will continue to put himself in scoring positions, but needs to finish.
Christopher Bokum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBokum