It was inevitable that the Boston Bruins would hit a rough patch this season, and it came last week.
The Bruins stumbled three of their four games last week, a slate that started against a struggling Montreal Canadiens team that got up for a game against its biggest rival, continued in Florida against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, and ended in Carolina against the Hurricanes.
Even though the Bruins went 1-2-1, there were still a couple of (slightly) bright spots.
Before the player of the week gets his due, we need to discuss why a few players didn’t get it.
While David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Pavel Zacha (to a lesser degree) continued to rack up points, they were ineffective in their zone. Pastrnak had a team-high six points last week but surrendered several turnovers, especially in the Carolina Hurricanes game, that were costly.
It felt more like an example of Pastrnak trying to do too much rather than laziness, but it had the same negative result. Krejci also struggled defensively and had a tough week in the faceoff circle, winning only 44 percent of his draws. Zacha had a few lazy shot block attempts and a couple lapses in coverage. They aren’t known for their two-way play, but the Czechs exceedingly were underwhelming defensively this week.
The Best of a Bad Week
Taylor Hall was solid all around, which was the best of a bad situation this week among forwards.
He scored twice while continuing to show he can take on a secondary (tertiary?) role and the responsibilities required.
Hall spent the week playing on two different lines. He played alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron as well as with his normal linemates, Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic. In that time, he scored two goals.
Hall scored his first goal in 16 games against the Canadiens to tie the score late in the first period when he found space in front of the net on the power play and shoveled home a rebound off a redirection from Bergeron.
Hall scored the Bruins’ only goal against the Hurricanes, again by battling for position in front of the net and barely tipping a Zacha shot over the glove of Carolina goaltender Frederik Andersen.
He also provided a moving screen on Pastrnak’s go-ahead goal against the Panthers which should’ve been the game winner if not for Pastrnak’s lackluster shot block attempt on the Panthers game-tying goal 46 seconds later.
Hall was second among Bruins in forwards in blocked shots with four, one behind his usual linemate, Charlie Coyle and tied with Trent Frederic. His presence on the third line also continues to create matchup problems for opposing teams, which enables Hall to draw penalties.
He drew two penalties this week, two behind Nick Foligno and one behind Brad Marchand. Unfortunately, the Bruins’ power play has been a debacle lately, so it didn’t lead to much.
Even when he wasn’t scoring, Hall consistently attacked the net and generated scoring opportunities.
Was it a great week for anyone? No, but Hall was fine.
Honorable Mention: Linus Ullmark
Ullmark was about as good as he could’ve been last week. If it hadn’t been for Brandon Carlo’s stray rear end in the third period of the Lightning game, the Ullmark might have at least helped earn the Bruins earn another point.
He was his usual solid self last week. He might have had a momentary lapse of concentration on Nikita Kucherov’s third-period goal off the faceoff, but that is debatable. I don’t think that goal was a softie, given the positioning of Pastrnak, Zacha and Brayden Point and the speed with which Kucherov released the shot.
Even if you consider that a weak goal, Ullmark made so many unbelievable saves during the week that he arguably deserves player of the week honors instead of Hall.
Of all the breakaway saves he made this week, this glove save to rob Sebastian Aho may have been his best.
The advanced statistics back up the eye test when it comes to Ullmark’s play. Even in a week when he gave up six goals in two games, he had .51 goals saved above expected and faced an uncharacteristically high number of shots for a Bruins goalie in two games (70).
All in all, during the Bruins’ worst week of the season, Ullmark continued to stand out in a season where he should be a Vezina favorite.
Taylor Hall - 1
Jeremy Swayman - 1