Boston Bruins: Matt Irwin Averaging Point Per Game In AHL


Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

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  • The Boston Bruins signed Matt Irwin in the offseason to help an ailing blue line. His $800,000 cap hit had the potential to be one of the best under-the-radar signings in the league, especially with Irwin’s offensive ability. At the time of the signing, the Bruins knew their offense wasn’t an area of strength, at least when reviewing the previous year and factoring in the subtractions of Dougie Hamilton, Milan Lucic, Carl Soderberg, and Reilly Smith. The signing made sense as a depth move with unlimited upside, and in Irwin’s first preseason game with the Bruins, he scored two goals. Unfortunately for Irwin, the preseason wasn’t any indication of the regular season, and the Bruins were left with no choice but to waive Irwin and send him to Providence.

    Following his demotion, Irwin has shown his offensive ability in the AHL, scoring one goal and assisting on four more for five points in his first five games, which is tied for third on the team. Unfortunately for Irwin, his demotion wasn’t a result of poor offensive-play, it was a result of abysmal defensive play. Irwin turned the puck over way too many times when skating with the big club, and that’s clearly unacceptable in the NHL, regardless of how young the season was. Whether it’s game one, or game eighty-two, no coach, especially Claude Julien, will allow a player to turn the puck over that many times without consequences. Irwin also seemed lost at times in the defensive zone, which clearly didn’t sit well with Claude Julien.

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    Matt Irwin‘s offensive prowess may have been enough to earn him a call-up from Providence last season, when the Bruins were struggling to put any points on the board, but this year is a totally different story. The Bruins are currently averaging 3.86 GF/GP (Goals For/Games Played), which is good for third in the league behind the Washington Capitals 4.14 GF/GP and the Montreal Canadiens 3.89 GF/GP. The Bruins powerplay is also clicking to the tune of 33.3%, good for first in the league. Offense has been anything but a problem for the Boston Bruins to start the season. Defense however, has proven to be one of the issues, which should be shocking to nobody, but goaltending, and faceoff percentage being near the bottom of the league should be considered borderline-surreal for Bruins fans.

    The Bruins have allowed the second-most goals against per game with a 4.14 GA/GP, the only team to allow more so far this season has been the 1-8 Columbus Blue Jackets; not company the Bruins would like to be associated with. The Bruins also rank second-to-last in the league in penalty kill percentage, killing off a measly 68.2% of their penalties. The only team to rank worse than the Bruins in PK% are the Buffalo Sabres who have been deploying former-Bruins’ backup goaltender Chad Johnson; again, company the Bruins do not want to be associated with. The most puzzling issue the Bruins are facing right now is their faceoff percentage statistic. The Bruins, usually an unstoppable force in the faceoff circle, are currently sitting at twenty-fourth in the league in faceoff percentage, winning only 47.9% of their faceoffs.

    The Bruins will need to work on their defensive, goaltending, and faceoff woes before they look at Matt Irwin as a possible call-up candidate. They should still monitor his offensive ability as possible leverage in the future for a trade, however. There are still a slew of offensively-starved teams who could use Irwin’s contributions from the bluelines, even if his defensive ability isn’t anywhere close to what it should be as an NHL player.

    Follow Brandon Share-Cohen on Twitter @BShareCohen to discuss all things Bruins and sports

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