It was an up-and-down first week of the season for the Bruins, who went 2-for-5 in their first slate of games to open the season. The good news, however, was the the B’s looked like themselves Wednesday night, a 3-2 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. A game that could’ve been 7-2 had it not been for the stellar play of Jimmy Howard (37 saves).
Not the start Claude Julien had in mind when he wrote out the lineup card last Wednesday night in Boston for the Bruins opening night showdown with the Philadelphia Flyers, though it wasn’t a shocking start. The B’s were without top centerman David Krejci for the first three games. Krejci’s linemate Milan Lucic is still getting his feet underneath him. The gaping hole left on the back end by the Johnny Boychuk trade is still in the process of being filled, in addition to a number of forward starts.
Luckily for the Bruins, no Stanley Cup has ever been raised in October. Even if the weather outside might resemble that of mid-June. Out of the inconsistent performance on the part of the Bruins to start the season, here’s the three who were the best through the opening five games.
Third Star: Adam McQuaid
One explanation of the timing of the Boychuk trade — made just four days prior to the season opener — was that Julien, Peter Chiarelli & Co. believed one two right-shot defensemen on the roster in McQuaid and Kevan Miller were capable of taking on a top-four role after being relegated to third-pairing duties for much of their NHL careers.
Leading the team in time on ice (21:47) on opening night, McQuaid has averaged 18:44 of ice-time, ranking fifth on the team. He’s been one of the team’s most important penalty killers, with 2:36 of shorthanded time per game second only to Zdeno Chara (3:25).
Second Star: Chris Kelly
When Chris Kelly is healthy and gets into a rhythm, it’s hard to ignore what he can bring to a hockey club. It’s why the Chiarelli went out and got Kelly prior to the 2011 Stanley Cup run then signed him to a four-year, $12 million deal in June 2012. A key bottom-six contributor, the 33-year-old can play on all four lines.
In the first week, Kelly has made up one-third of a line that consists of Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, skating on the wing while splitting draws with Soderberg at center. He scored the game-winning goal on opening night, and his takeaway on a Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey pass forced to Jeremy Abdelkader Wednesday night setup Krejci’s breakaway goal to open the scoring.
First Star: Brad Marchand
Held scoreless with a minus-one rating, the naked eye would assume Marchand is having a start similar to last season. That is far from the case, as Marchand has been well-involved, creating scoring opportunities and starting several odd-man rushes up the ice. He setup the play that led to Reilly Smith’s goal Wednesday by winning the race to the backwall on the dump-in.
Marchand’s line, which he skates alongside Smith and Patrice Bergeron, has been Boston’s most productive line, combining for a 3-4–7 clip through five games.