With two games under their belts, a handful of Bruins are starting to emerge as early favorites for the breakout players of the 2019-2020 season. Specifically, Charlie Coyle, Danton Heinen, Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk have started off strong. In addition, the Bruins boast probably the best goaltender tandem in the National Hockey League.
Coyle’s success should not be a huge surprise to Bruins fans. The East Weymouth native was one of the key driving forces for the team’s success in its long 2019 playoff run. Coyle continued his dominant play in the preseason.
Coyle, who was acquired before the trade deadline in February in exchange for Ryan Donato, has one assist so far on the season. However, that helper allowed newcomer Brett Ritchie to pot the team's first goal of the season.
In the first game of the 2019-2020 campaign, Coyle’s third line provided all of the Bruins’ offense. Coyle continued to show his willingness to fight for the puck and make things happen in Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
Heinen has shown flashes that he can be a top-six forward. However, last season he faced criticism about his scoring consistency and pass-first approach. So far this season, Heinen seems to be fitting in very well on a line with Coyle and Ritchie. Hopefully his early success is a sign of things to come for the 23-year-old.
Following an uncertain offseason, fans were relieved when McAvoy signed a contract extension and reported to the team not long after camp began in September. After the first two games, it appears that McAvoy is ready to make an impact and help lead the team to another run at the Stanley Cup.
McAvoy has played more than 22 minutes in each of the team’s first two games. Although his official statistics don’t show much scoring activity yet, McAvoy has made an impact. For example, in Game One in Dallas, McAvoy made a few plays that thwarted excellent scoring opportunities for the Stars.
Meanwhile, Grzelcyk tends to fly under the radar. However, the Charlestown native's speed, puck-moving skills and quiet leadership continue to make him a key player. Grzelcyk earned an assist on the only goal scored in Saturday’s win in Arizona. He has played just shy of 20 minutes in each of the first two games, even as a third-pairing defenseman.
Grzelcyk is never afraid to go hard into the corners in pursuit of the puck and has the grit and toughness Boston fans and coaches love to see. He and Connor Clifton have proven to be a formidable defensive pairing. Fans also saw a glimpse in the preseason of a potential future pairing with McAvoy.
Two brick walls
That brings us to the goaltenders. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have been the hands-down heroes of the first two games. The team has two wins to show for their efforts. While the rest of the Bruins work to gel and find their goal-scoring touch, it is great to know that the coaches can lean on the netminders to produce victories.