Editor’s note: Last week’s Player of the Week was not published due to a communication error. David Pastrnak won, which put him in the lead with three nominations heading into the final week of the regular season.
It’s finally here. Today is the start of the Boston Bruins’ quest to finish a historic regular season with a Stanley Cup and become not just the best regular season team in NHL history but one of the best teams in NHL history as a whole.
With that out of the way, the season’s final Player of the Week recap will do a little looking back while also looking forward to the Bruins’ (hopefully long) playoff run and the importance this player will have going forward.
That player is Brad Marchand.
Marchand was the co-leader on the scoresheet for the Bruins in the final week of the regular season, notching a goal and three assists in two games. That tied him with David Pastrnak for the team lead in points scored this week.
Marchand performed best in the Bruins’ record-breaking 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals Tuesday. Marchand broke a scoreless tie in the second period with a power play goal that showcased what the team is capable of when they can establish an attack in the offensive zone and move the puck effectively.
Some nifty passing between Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak put the Capitals’ defense in a blender before Marchand scored.
But the goal meant more than just earning a lead in a game where the team could break a record. It was Marchand’s first point in eight games and his first goal in 17. It was also a power play goal, something the Bruins have struggled to accomplish recently.
He followed that goal with another power play point, an assist on Tyler Bertuzzi’s goal almost six minutes later. He notched his third point of the game on an assist of Jake DeBrusk’s empty net goal.
Two nights later, in Montreal, Marchand assisted on another Jake DeBrusk goal to help propel the Bruins to a 5-4 win in the team’s final regular season game.
Marchand’s offensive production is something we’ve taken for granted over the last few seasons. While he surpassed 20 goals for the 12th time in his career, Marchand’s 21 total goals were the fewest he’s tallied in a full 82-game schedule since his rookie season of 2010-11.
The line of Marchand, DeBrusk and Bergeron always finds a way to contribute. When they aren’t scoring, they are successfully shutting down top lines around the league, which will be increasingly important against an offensively talented Florida Panthers team. But, if Marchand can ramp up his scoring a little more in the playoffs as he did to end the regular season, the Bruins will be that much deeper.
Honorable Mention: Dmitry Orlov
Dmitry Orlov had another impressive week for the Bruins. This week he continued to showcase his offensive acumen on top of his shutdown ability. He scored once and added an assist in the team’s final matchup in Montreal, but how he did it was especially impressive.
Orlov’s goal came on a give-and-go where he went top shelf over Sam Montembeault on a play that looked more like a Pastrnak goal than a Bruins defenseman.
He then assisted on Pastrnak’s game winner in the third period on a very similar play where he initiated a give-and-go with Tyler Bertuzzi before getting the puck back and sliding a perfect pass to Pastrnak instead of shooting.
On top of his contributions on the scoresheet, he led all players with 44:46 of ice time, four minutes more than second-place Charlie McAvoy. He also drew a penalty and blocked four shots during the week.
Finally, Orlov continued to help the Bruins play an efficient style emphasizing high-quality scoring chances while limiting high-quality chances against. According to naturalstattrick.com he spent 35:57 on the ice at 5-on-5, and while he was on the ice, the team generated 17 high-danger chances in two games while allowing just five, good for a 77.27 high-danger percentage. That trailed only Bergeron, who Orlov outpaced in ice time by more than 20 minutes.
Orlov’s ability will be crucial in the first round of the playoffs. The Bruins’ defensive depth is much better with Orlov than the Panthers’. Moreover, although the Panthers can generate a lot of offense, they struggle more than almost every other playoff team to limit quality offensive chances. Only the New York Rangers allowed more high-danger chances against at 5-on-5 during the regular season.
The Panthers allowed almost 100 more than the Bruins throughout the season. Orlov has demonstrated his offensive ability to move the puck out of his own zone and finish scoring chances in the offensive zone. Combined with Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy, Orlov gives the Bruins the ability to ice three defensive pairs that can move the puck and play shutdown defense if they split them all up or have an elite top-pairing and a nearly elite middle pairing.
The playoffs start soon. I can’t wait!
Connor Clifton - 1
Taylor Hall - 1
Garnet Hathaway - 1
Brad Marchand - 1
Charlie McAvoy - 1
Dmitry Orlov - 1
David Pastrnak - 3
Jeremy Swayman - 2
Linus Ullmark - 2