May 18, 2024

Bruins

“He’s a hockey participant. He competes. He believes in himself.”

Matt Poitras scored two objectives throughout Boston’s win over the Geese on Sunday. (AP Picture/Ryan Solar)

 COMMENTARY 

Matt Poitras defied the percentages final month, going from a roster-bubble candidate destined for one more stint in junior hockey to a fixture in Boston’s lineup.

However breaking camp with the NHL roster following a robust preseason provided no assure that Poitras may unpack his spare suitcase readily available for a trek again to Guelph, Ontario.

Boston was nonetheless afforded 9 video games to see if Poitras had the mettle (and energy) required to resist the gauntlet that is the NHL’s regular-season slate. As soon as that prolonged trial run wraps, the Bruins can both burn the primary 12 months Poitras’ entry-level contract and hold him in Boston all season — or ship him again to the OHL.

The Bruins don’t must make a name on their promising pivot for one more 4 video games. However the 19-year-old ahead may need made the choice for them along with his breakthrough outing in opposition to the Geese on Sunday evening.

There is no such thing as a one set script to comply with relating to carving out a task within the NHL ranks as an adolescent. Every participant’s journey differs, with various hurdles presenting themselves within the type of superior competitors, punishing play, and a frantic journey schedule that saps the energy from the legs of even the springiest younger skaters.

Earlier this month Don Sweeney talked about then-rookie David Pastrnak’s two-tally sport in opposition to the Flyers on Jan. 10, 2015 because the validation Boston wanted to maintain him up long-term. Milan Lucic believed a Gordie Howe hat trick achieved in Los Angeles throughout his fourth profession sport proved he belonged. 

And on his first West Coast highway journey, Poitras helped Boston enhance to 5-0-0 with a two-goal salvo within the span of three:49 in opposition to Anaheim.

“It’s fairly surreal,” Poitras mentioned postgame. “Simply seeing the puck go within the web, I used to be actually excited. I don’t actually know what I did. Form of blacked out a bit of bit. Simply tremendous excited and tremendous completely happy. It’s a surreal feeling.”

Poitras hasn’t actually missed a step because the league calendar has flipped to the common season. Over the past 30 years, solely 4 Bruins have recorded their first multi-goal sport at a youthful age than Matt Poitras (19 years, 226 days):

David Pastrnak (18 years, 230 days)
Phil Kessel (19 years, 107 days)
Patrice Bergeron (18 years, 172 days
Sergei Samsonov (19 years, 164 days)

Good firm to be in.

By means of 5 video games with the Bruins, Poitras is now as much as three factors (two objectives, one help) whereas averaging 14:09 of ice time per contest. He’s slotted throughout Boston’s lineup over this early stretch, constructing a robust rapport subsequent to Morgan Geekie on the staff’s middle-six unit.

Sunday’s win served because the strongest endorsement but that Poitras warrants a full-time spot with the Bruins, even at his age.

However Poitras’ elevation right into a full-time NHLer shouldn’t simply be a case of Boston rewarding a rookie for a formidable nine-game stretch. The Bruins ought to hold Poitras round as a result of … effectively, they’re a complete lot higher when {the teenager} is within the lineup.

In a season the place query marks have lingered over the Bruins’ scoring capabilities and their standing as a viable contender within the post-Bergeron period, Poitras has provided some sudden (and much-needed) readability.

Poitras was lastly rewarded with tangible manufacturing on Sunday evening, however the younger ahead has been probably the greatest Bruins out of the gate relating to constantly producing probabilities within the offensive zone.

Even with a muted efficiency in opposition to the San Jose Sharks final Thursday, Poitras is tied with Pastrnak for essentially the most high-danger scoring probabilities on the staff with six over 59:55 of 5v5 ice time.

Of his eight photographs on purpose, 5 have come from the low slot.

His poise with the puck and passing capability are evident every time he hops over the boards. However his willingness to have interaction down low and hover round Grade-A ice has paved the best way for regular manufacturing out of the gate, as was the case along with his two tallies in opposition to the Geese.

“In the event you’re going to supply on this league, you’ve obtained to be keen to play contained in the dots,” Jim Montgomery mentioned of Poitras. “That’s what I really like about him. Whether or not it’s one-on-one battles in corners or getting within the exhausting areas, he’s keen to go to the areas the place you’re going to have success.”

Poitras has been extra than simply an early vivid spot on a Bruins roster making an attempt to generate constant offense. He’s already established himself into a robust play-driver, particularly alongside two wingers who must function key middle-six cogs in Jake DeBrusk and Geekie.

Throughout that trio’s 10:21 of 5v5 ice time in opposition to Anaheim, the Bruins outscored the Geese, 2-0, and generated a formidable 11-1 edge in scoring probabilities. Getting DeBrusk going will give Boston some added scoring punch, however Poitras’ chemistry with Geekie has additionally been noteworthy.

Tabbed as a breakout candidate with Boston given his sturdy offensive totals below restricted minutes final season with Seattle, Geekie has began to search out his stride subsequent to the Bruins’ rookie. Throughout their 46 minutes collectively in 2023-24, the Bruins have outscored groups, 4-1, and held a 13-5 edge in high-danger scoring probabilities. 

If Poitras can proceed to mesh with Geekie and DeBrusk, it permits Montgomery to hold a hefty third line of Charlie Coyle, Trent Frederic, and James van Riemsdyk intact — whereas additionally opening the door for Boston to assemble a potent high line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Pavel Zacha. 

Few believed that Poitras was prepared for NHL reps this season, with the playmaking middle serving extra as hope for the longer term amid a bleak panorama of middle depth in Boston.

However with Poitras, the longer term seems to be now.

The Bruins should not have any objections.

“He’s a hockey participant,” Montgomery mentioned. “He competes. He believes in himself. He’s all the time keen to hold on to pucks and make performs which might be going to supply offense.”