MONTREAL — The Boston Bruins were not expected to be a force on attack this season after losing offensive weapons like Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, but they are.
Heading into Tuesday night's game against the Canadiens in Montreal, the Bruins were third in the 30-team NHL (behind Dallas and Washington) with 2.98 goals scored per game. They boasted the league's top power play with a 27.73 success rate.
"A lot of guys have done a great job of stepping up," said forward Brad Marchand. "Loui (Eriksson) is having a great year.
"Bergy (Patrice Bergeron), (David) Krejci, Spoons (Ryan Spooner) have had really good years. A lot of other guys have stepped up and taken control."
The Bruins made changes after missing the playoffs by only two points last season. They included sending rugged winger Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings. Hamilton was dealt to Calgary in what was seen mainly as a salary cap move. Impending unrestricted free agent centre Carl Soderberg was traded to Colorado.
Those coming the other way included forwards Jimmy Hayes, a former Florida Panther who has 10 goals, and Matt Belesky, who had a career-high 22 goals for Anaheim last season.
Last season's squad ranked 22nd in goals per game at 2.55 and 18th on the power play at 17.8 per cent.
"We've been doing it by committee," said Belesky. "Everyone seems to be chipping in.
"We have a lot of guys who have scored goals in this league and some young guys stepping up and making plays for us. It's a by-committee thing. With injuries, that's something you have to do."
Krejci was leading the team with 33 points in 35 games when he went down with an upper-body injury on Dec. 27. He has resumed skating but coach Claude Julien ruled him out for the game in Montreal. He could return Thursday night at home against Vancouver.
The Czech centre has since been passed for the team scoring lead by Bergeron and a resurgent Eriksson, who had 15 goals in his first 44 games after scoring 22 all last season.
The Bruins have six players with 10 or more goals, including 23-year-old Spooner, who had two goals and nine assists in nine games after taking over Krejci's spot between Eriksson and Belesky. His five power-play goals ranks him third on the team behind Bergeron and Marchand.
"Spoons has done a great job," said Belesky, who signed a five-year deal with Boston as a free agent in July. "He got some goals for us and played some big minutes.
"Obviously, Krejci's a tough guy to replace but I think, as a committee, we've done a good job of replacing him. We'd like to have him back soon though."
Julien is certainly pleased with Spooner's performance.
"You always miss an elite player, but to have Spooner step up and do the job has been a real pleasant situation for us," he said.
Most of Boston's injuries have been on defence, with Adam McQuaid still sidelined. Only Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug have played more than 40 games so far this season.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press