June 22, 2024

Bruins

“That is fairly an accomplishment for all younger hockey gamers.”

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 30: Matthew Poitras #51 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period against the Florida Panthers at TD Garden on October 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Matt Poitras may miss as much as 9 Bruins video games over the following few weeks. Maddie Meyer/Getty Photographs

Bruins rookie heart Matt Poitras is taking a break from NHL motion for the following few weeks to play for his nation.

The Bruins introduced on Monday morning that they’ve assigned the 19-year-old ahead to Crew Canada for the upcoming 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The annual junior event will likely be held in Gothenburg, Sweden from December 26, 2023 to January 5, 2024. Barring a sudden exit for Crew Canada, Poitras will seemingly be away from the Bruins till not less than Jan. 8, when Boston begins a four-game highway journey in Denver.

“That is fairly an accomplishment for all younger hockey gamers — an opportunity to characterize their nation at one of many greatest levels,” Don Sweeney stated of Poitras’ project. “Now it’s distinctive within the truth he’s taking part in within the NHL. In order that’s the very first thing that most likely goes via anyone’s thoughts, is what’s the trade-off? 

“However there’s actually no draw back for him to go and characterize and be a pacesetter on that crew and hopefully accomplish the last word purpose as all younger gamers actually taking part in hockey get an opportunity to try to accomplish.”

Poitras was as soon as thought-about a probable roster lock for the two-time defending WJC champions in Canada, particularly after the playmaking pivot posted 95 factors (16 objectives, 79 assists) in simply 63 video games with the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Guelph Storm final season.

However Poitras’ sturdy preseason in Boston and accelerated timeline to the NHL ranks led to {the teenager} leapfrogging AHL competitors and becoming a member of the Bruins’ roster proper out of the gate this fall.

Poitras has performed in 27 video games with the Bruins to date this season, scoring 5 objectives and including eight assists.

Let’s undergo just a few execs and cons of Boston establishing Poitras’ transient breather from NHL competitors:

PRO: A confidence builder

All through his first foray towards NHL competitors, Poitras has drawn loads of reward from Jim Montgomery for his capability to carry his personal towards the more durable competitors and punishing play that presents itself time and time once more.

However as is the case with any younger participant honing their craft at hockey’s highest degree, staying afloat within the NHL ranks is commonly a sobering — and confidence-sapping — train.

A top-six stalwart for many of his profession, Poitras has largely been shuffled right into a middle-six function with Boston, averaging 14:06 of ice time per sport. He’s been stapled to the bench throughout essential junctures of video games this season, particularly over sequences the place Boston is defending a one-goal lead. 

After all, Montgomery’s utilization of Poitras is well-intentioned, with Boston cognizant of not over-exerting a promising participant who admittedly nonetheless has a lot to study at this degree of competitors.

However after over two months of daunting matchups towards established NHLers, Poitras could possibly be in line for a much-needed raise towards the extent of competitors discovered on the World Juniors.

Given his NHL pedigree and evident talent, Poitras is predicted to be a featured participant for Crew Canada alongside the projected 2024 No. 1 total decide (and Boston College Terrier) Macklin Celebrini.

Not solely will Poitras profit from heavy minutes (together with power-play reps) on a featured worldwide stage within the coming weeks, however he must also be capable of cube up opposing defenses whereas battling towards under-20 skaters. 

Regardless of hitting some anticipated bumps within the highway from October-December, a powerful exhibiting in Sweden may give Poitras the anticipated increase he wants earlier than returning for the second-half stretch with Boston.

“I feel [this] will get him to have an opportunity mentally and bodily to have just a little little bit of a reset, go towards and play towards your peer group,” Sweeney defined. “Now once more, it’s excessive expectations and high-leverage strain conditions that he’s now been thrust into on the highest degree you possibly can presumably play at. He ought to deal with that properly.

“He ought to take these issues that occurred in our locker room and impart them on his new teammates and lead from the entrance and that’s what we’re hoping for. And he’ll come again and reinsert himself with us.”

CON: A taxing workload 

Poitras ought to be capable of thrive at World Juniors given his elite playmaking capability. However 60 minutes of hockey remains to be draining, whatever the competitors.

And though Montgomery and Co. have been vigilant in lowering Poitras’ workload with the Bruins over these previous few weeks, the rookie goes to be very busy over in Sweden.

If Crew Canada goes all the best way to the Gold Medal sport, Poitras is predicted to play in seven video games over the 11-day event.

It’d be a strenuous stretch for a younger participant already set to enter uncharted waters this winter so far as his minutes.

Poitras was scratched twice in Boston’s final 5 video games because of load administration, with Montgomery prescribing off days for the rookie to maintain his legs recent over the grind of an 82-game NHL season.

Poitras has by no means performed greater than 68 video games in a single season earlier than. And given his worth to a Bruins roster nonetheless missing when it comes to offensive creativity and poise, Boston can’t afford to have him hit a wall in March or April.

“The league does get more durable and he’s going via that for the primary [time]. As a lot you need to discuss to a participant about that, you gotta undergo it and stay it,” Sweeney stated.

“So it’s a steep studying curve, and he’s dealt with it very well. He comes again and in a few of the video games the place he’s made a few boo-boos and hasn’t misplaced his convention, gone out and performed, made the following play… He’s going via for the primary time however he’s studying from every a type of experiences, attempting to use it and hopefully he’s loads higher off popping out the opposite facet.”

Boston is hoping {that a} sturdy exhibiting with Crew Canada permits Poitras to catch a second wind in the midst of a protracted NHL season.

However fellow Bruins blue-chip prospect Fabian Lysell stands as a cautionary story of how issues can go awry at World Juniors. The 2021 first-round decide opened final season with 19 factors in his first 20 video games with Windfall earlier than becoming a member of Crew Sweden on the 2023 event.

However after posting zero factors over seven video games within the event, Lysell ran out of steam the remainder of the season — posting simply 18 factors over his 34 video games with Windfall.

Even when Poitras posts a stronger statline abroad, Boston should be vigilant in ensuring its high rookie isn’t operating on fumes.

CON: A loss within the bottom-six

Even when Poitras’ manufacturing has quieted as of late, his worth in Boston’s middle-six grouping can’t be ignored, particularly on a Bruins crew nonetheless missing when it comes to 5v5 offensive manufacturing.

Boston ranks twenty first within the NHL in 5v5 objectives this season with 59, with Poitras standing as a brilliant spot additional down the lineup due to his passing capability and craftiness with the puck on his stick.

When pushed all the way down to the bottom-six grouping, Poitras can elevate a section of the ahead corps that tends to depend on straight-line forechecking and fewer creativity to fabricate offense.

And though Poitras doesn’t log heavy minutes on the facility play, his knack for getting Boston on the person benefit is a welcome sight. Of the 557 NHLers with not less than 200 minutes of 5v5 ice time logged this season, Poitras is twenty first in penalties drawn per 60 minutes at 2.22.

Poitras will seemingly miss 9 complete video games with the Bruins if Canada goes all the best way to the ultimate stage of the WJC. That prolonged time without work could also be value it to the Bruins if it revitalizes Poitras, however his affect on the ice will definitely be missed.

PRO: Reinforcements on the best way 

Even with Poitras’ absence, Boston’s heart pipeline is about to get a lift with Pavel Zacha anticipated to return to the lineup within the days forward. The 26-year-old ahead has missed the final three video games with an upper-body damage however will seemingly slot again into his common function within the top-six unit.

As for Poitras’ emptiness within the bottom-six section of the lineup, the strides of Morgan Geekie on the heart spot give Boston a more-than-capable contingency plan at 3C. Since slotting in for Zacha down the center on Dec. 9, Geekie is averaging 18:16 of ice time per sport, posting 4 factors (two objectives, two assists) over 4 video games.

“Getting considerably wholesome main as much as this resolution was actually a part of the method and why we took this all the way down to the wire to make our resolution,” Sweeney stated of Boston’s roster. “And hopefully we get Pav again this week and I agree, Geeks has performed very well since he’s come again from his damage and that depth in the midst of the ice — Freddy has gone in and performed there.

“So we really feel just a little extra snug the place we’re proper now and the place we had been a few weeks in the past.”