Bruins Studs and Duds for March

Studs:

Brad Marchand: Number 63 has continued his scoring pace and currently sits in third place in the NHL with 81 points. Recently this month he has put himself in the thick of the Hart Trophy race and has done his best to keep the team afloat. Despite struggling his last few games, he still continues to help the team stay energized. From time to time he can engage in trash talk that seems to hurt his game as he can lose focus. The month of March was good to Marchand as he totaled 15 points in 13 games including nine goals. Look for him to have a couple big goals as the season winds down.

Riley Nash: In perhaps the biggest game of the year, Nash brought his A-game. The fourth line winger scored twice on Saturday night in Brooklyn and has at least a point in four of his last five games dating back to March 20th against the Maple Leafs. Obviously Nash isn’t expected to be a prolific point scorer but he’s come up big when they’ve called on him by scoring goals, blocking shots and finding the open man on odd-man rushes such as last night. Nash led a 3 on 1 and found a streaking Noel Acciari for the first goal of his career which gave the B’s much-needed insurance late in last night’s victory over Nashville.

Anton Khudobin: Khudobin has finally found his rhythm after some rough stretches of play earlier in the season. The Bruins backup has not lost a game since December and is 3-0-0 in the month of March with a .910 save percentage and a sparkling 1.96 goals against average. He has been huge when called upon including Saturday’s win over the Islanders making some key stops at key times and distracting some shooters a la Tim Thomas. Look for Dobby to get a start or two in the final six games of the season as the B’s want to make sure Tuukka Rask is fresh for a potential playoff run.

Honorable Mention: Zdeno Chara, Dominic Moore

Duds:

David Pastrnak: With only two points in his last five game Pastrnak has slowed down a bit as more teams have made shutting him down a big focus. He has struggled to find the net recently but not because of a lack of effort. He has found other ways to get involved including drawing penalties and putting pucks on net. He has also put a ton of skill on display with dazzling moves to get around defenders and is a danger to score nearly every time he has the puck. Expect him to break out of this mini slump in a big way in these next few games. I say mini slump because previous to this stretch of five games, Pastrnak had points in 11 consecutive games.

The Third Line: The trio of Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Jimmy Hayes had found new energy since the firing of Claude Julien but recently that energy has worn off as Hayes has been in and out and the lineup and Vatrano and Spooner have struggled to find offense especially 5 on 5. Drew Stafford and Matt Beleskey took a couple games on this line as well and couldn’t seem to fit very well. The aforementioned trio has only one goal, seven assists and a -7 plus minus rating in the entire month of March. For the Bruins to be successful in the next few games, they need to get production out of this line because they can’t rely on a couple guys to score. This line could very well be the difference between postseason play or another disappointing ending to the season.

Tuukka Rask: I really went back and forth on this one because I believe Rask hasn’t been given adequate rest over the last few weeks as he’s started in 10 of the last 13 games. But he simply has to be better than the performance he turned in last Thursday against the Lightning when he allowed five goals on 28 shots. If the Bruins hope to have any shot at the postseason Rask has to be at the top of his game. Since the first two months of the season, his save percentage has steadily declined and his goals against average has totem bigger. Granted, it’s difficult to stay at that pace he was at in first two months without a capable backup and needing to play many games in a row but the fact is he needs to be better if the B’s are to go back to postseason for the first time in three seasons.

Dishonorable Mention: Torey Krug

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