NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Boston Bruins.
[Bruins 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown]
1. DeBrusk's goals
Left wing Jake DeBrusk scored an NHL career-high 27 goals in 68 regular-season games and had 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games last season. He should continue to build upon his success after solidifying a second-line role with center David Krejci, who had 73 points (20 goals, 53 assists). Krejci was first on the Bruins in SAT percentage (55.98 percent) and DeBrusk was second (55.86) among skaters to play at least 68 games. Coach Bruce Cassidy used their second line in a predominantly offensive role, where the tandem led the Bruins in 5-on-5 zone starts percentage, meaning they each started in the offensive zone more than 62 percent of the time. DeBrusk taking a further step in his development is also likely because of his top power-play role. Although he missed 14 games last season, DeBrusk's eight power-play goals were fourth on the Bruins. If his lineup placement holds and he plays a full schedule, DeBrusk should have the best season of his NHL career.
Video: STL@BOS, Gm5: DeBrusk buries one-timer from circle
Although it's hard to criticize a team that made the Stanley Cup Final last season, the Bruins ranked second in the NHL in penalty minutes per game (9:43) behind the New York Rangers (10:24). Boston was tied with the Anaheim Ducks for the fourth-most penalties taken (320), which could have contributed to its average penalty kill (79.9 percent; T-16th). It was especially bad on the road, where it ranked 25th in the NHL (78.3 percent). It's worth noting that the Bruins made adjustments to their penalty kill in the postseason and ranked third (88.4 percent) behind the Dallas Stars (94.6) and New York Islanders (91.7). It's no coincidence that it improved after forward Sean Kuraly had his shorthanded time on ice per game increase from 1:18 (T-12th on Bruins) in the regular season to 2:19 (third) in the playoffs. Expect this trend to carry into this season.
Video: 31 in 31: Boston Bruins 2019-20 season preview
3. Save percentage
Boston had a wealth of riches when it came to goaltending last season. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak each had at least 22 wins, a .912 save percentage and four shutouts. Halak excelled at even strength, when his .936 save percentage was tied for third among goalies with at least 30 games. Rask had his fourth straight season playing below a .918 save percentage, shy of his NHL career average (.921). Despite the down regular season, Rask silenced critics in the playoffs by leading in save percentage (.934) among goalies to play at least 10 games. It's likely Boston will continue a timeshare situation in the regular season, but Rask could see an increased workload if his momentum carries over from the postseason.
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