No matter how they spin it now, there is no way that the Bruins could have foreseen rookie right wing Seth Griffith playing such an integral part on the team in the 2014-15 regular season. For various reasons – lack of cap space, injuries, failure of anyone else to step up – the B’s were stuck offensively. Luckily for them, it looks like it will work out as Griffith is tied with Carl Soderberg and Brad Marchand for the team lead in goals, with five apiece. An impressive aspect of that is that Griffith has done it in four less games than Soderberg and Marchand.
Asked about Griffith’s surprising emergence before Saturday’s 2-1 matinee victory over Carolina, Bruins head coach Claude Julien couldn’t help but gush about Boston’s fifth round pick from 2012 (131st overall).
“For us he’s been really a blessing because that spot was an open spot that he’s filled in a way that he’s been productive,” Julien said. “He’s scored some real nice goals, not just the one we saw the other night but even driving the net.”
Griffith’s goal eight days ago against New Jersey was Boston’s top scoring play so far and easily one of the best goals in the NHL this season. He blocked a shot in his own zone, then skated by two defensemen before finishing a shot through his legs with his back to the Devils’ goal. It was so good that it led SportsCenter that night, which is nearly impossible for a hockey highlight these days.
The sign of a true goal-scorer is when a player tallies goals seemingly out of nowhere, such as Griffith’s bizarre goal that he notched against the Hurricanes last Saturday that tied the game late in the first. A faulty back pass by Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera went off Griffith’s stick then deflected off Sekera and past goaltender Cam Ward.
“I just wanted to forecheck hard and try to get my stick on it,” Griffith said. “It was a fluke goal but I was happy to get the boys going. [Patrice] Bergeron got the next one and we played well defensively to get the win.”
The Bruins haven’t had the best luck in terms of drafting and developing goal-scorers. Their top two scorers of the past decade – Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin – have been traded away to other teams where their careers have really taken off. Griffith certainly isn’t on that level yet, but let’s keep in mind that he’s the second youngest player on the club (he’ll be 22 on Jan. 4, roughly 6.5 months older than Dougie Hamilton) and his resume in the minor leagues was nothing to scoff at. Griffith put up 45 goals and 40 assists with the London Knights (OHL) in 2011-12 and 33 the following season with 48 assists. Last year, he had 20 goals (including nine power-play goals) and 30 assists for the Providence Bruins in 69 games.