Boston Bruins

Should Bruins' recent scoring surge impact their trade deadline plans?

Which position should the B's prioritize ahead of the trade deadline?

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The Boston Bruins' offense is firing on all cylinders right now, and the Montreal Canadiens were the latest opponent to experience this recent scoring explosion.

The B's scored nine times in an emphatic win over the rival Canadiens on Saturday night at TD Garden.

Sixteen different players tallied at least one point, which is a team record. Seven different players scored, led by Danton Heinen's hat trick.

The Bruins' uptick in scoring is not a random development. This is a trend that's been going on for almost a month. The B's entered the holiday break with a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 23. They ranked 22nd in goals and 24th in 5-on-5 goals scored at that point in the season. They had scored one or fewer goals in four of the eight games leading into the holiday break.

It was fair to wonder, at the time, if the Bruins needed to make a substantial move at the trade deadline to improve their scoring depth. It didn't look like Boston had the firepower up front to make a deep playoff run.

Fast forward a month and the conversation has changed quite a bit.

The Bruins rank No. 1 with 57 goals since the holiday break ended leaguewide Dec. 27. They are one of three teams (along with the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche) to score more than 46 goals during that span.

They've also seen improvement in shot attempts, shots on net and scoring chances generated over that timeframe. Even the power play, which was producing at an impressive 24.5 percent rate through the holiday break, has scored at a blistering 34.2 percent pace over the last 13 games.

So, what should the Bruins be prioritizing as the March 8 trade deadline approaches?

ESPN's Emily Kaplan reported on Jan. 11 that the Bruins were scouting middle-six forwards with a "scoring punch." Should they still prioritize that kind of player at the deadline, or is the blue line a bigger area of concern?

Getting a defenseman who can play tough minutes in the playoffs -- someone who can play on the penalty kill, clear traffic from the front of the net, bring a little more physicality, and be able to clear the zone when under heavy pressure from the opponent's forecheck -- should be the priority.

Mason Lohrei has shown lots of potential offensively, but his play in the defensive zone remains a concern. And that's OK, because he's 23 years old and hadn't played in the NHL before this season. It's not at all surprising that he doesn't have a stellar two-way skill set right now. But based on his ice time in the third period in several games this season, he still has a ways to go before consistently earning crunch-time minutes against good teams.

Matt Grzelcyk has had trouble handling heavy forechecks in recent playoff runs. He's also dealt with a few injuries in recent years, and he's missed 14 of the team's 45 games this season. Can the Bruins trust him to hold up physically until late May or June?

Derek Forbort has missed plenty of games over the last two years, including 24 this season. It would be a huge boost if Forbort came back and was healthy the rest of the way, but how high are the chances of that happening?

Hampus Lindholm is playing 23:55 per game, his highest ice time average since the 2018-19 campaign. Charlie McAvoy is playing a career-high 24:41 per game. Adding another quality defenseman would help take away minutes from Lindholm and McAvoy, who have shouldered a lot of the burden on both ends of the ice given the team's injuries and inexperience on the blue line. The Bruins cannot afford to tire these guys out before the playoffs begin.

The Bruins still should add some depth up front. Injuries are typically a factor in the playoffs, and the B's have been a little too top-heavy at times this season. A versatile forward who can play up and down the lineup would be a solid upgrade, similar to when the team acquired Rich Peverley in 2011 and Marcus Johansson in 2019.

Nobody could have expected the Bruins leading the Eastern Conference on Jan. 22 after they lost so many good players last offseason, most notably Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Taylor Hall, Tyler Bertuzzi and Dmitry Orlov. This was supposed to be a bridge year given their low salary cap space and the amount of young players they were inserting into the lineup.

Exceeding expectations is no reason to stand pat at the trade deadline, though. There isn't a dominant team in the NHL right now. The Tampa Bay Lightning are no longer a juggernaut. The Western Conference has several good teams, but none of them look super scary.

The Bruins absolutely should be aggressive at the trade deadline and have a classic "go for it" approach. And right now, given the team's recent scoring surge, the blue line should be the area of the roster prioritized.

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