Things are coming around for Boston Bruins center Erik Haula.
The 30-year-old struggled out of the gate with a slow start for his new B’s team this season, but it’s been a different story since he was slotted in the middle between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak. Haula scored his fifth goal of the season in opening the scoring in Boston’s 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Friday night.
It was a play created by Pastrnak after he stole the puck from Anton Stralman in the circle and dangled into a backhanded feed to Haula in the slot, who slammed home the one-timer to open scoring for Boston. It was a nice piece of chemistry between the two forwards and has Haula now on pace for 10 goals and 32 points for the season.
“I just keep my stick on the ice and if it comes then it comes,” said Haula. “I just need to be ready there. It was a great play by [Pastrnak].”
The speedy, skilled Haula can do even better than that, but the four goals and 11 points in 15 games this month in a new spot reveal a player that could be in line for a second half offensive surge. It’s certainly a good deal better than one goal in the first 25 games of his Boston Bruins career to start this season.
“I’ve got an opportunity to play with two elite players and it’s a good challenge. I wanted to do really well obviously, and it’s been fun. I just need to bring what I can bring and help them out, and it’s been nice to have some success. Hopefully we can just keep on getting better,” said Haula. “We have a good feel for each other, and we talk quite a bit, but I think there’s even another level that we can get to. Our goal is to keep getting better and help the team win games.
“It’s been good. It’s a really easy and likeable group to come to. I’ve done it before, so I’m just trying to be myself. I’ve enjoyed my time thus far and hoping to stay for a long time.”
The best part has been Haula’s willingness to play a responsible two-way game with a pair of offensive risk-takers on either side in Hall and Pastrnak after some defensive struggles playing center earlier in the season.
It’s all coming at a good time as the trade rumor mill is kicking up with the Boston Bruins potentially interested in players like Claude Giroux and JT Miller, a sign that the B’s may not be looking at Haula as a long-term solution in his current spot. Perhaps he can change some minds if he continues to play with consistency and solid impact, and that’s been the case thus far this month since Bruce Cassidy reconfigured the forward lines.