Grading the Bruins: A Cup A Bruin Style

(Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

Earlier this week CSNNE reporter Joe Haggerty wrote up an article grading each and every player on the Boston Bruins based on their performance in the regular season. He also posted a similar article last season, after the Bruins won the Cup.  The purpose of this post is much of the same, a comparison of notes if you will.  We are going to take an in-depth look at each and every player on the team and grade them based on season performance, as well as predict how they will be effective in the playoffs.

Taking a look at Bruins forwards the first that comes to mind is center David Krejci.(#46)

This season Krejci has had some shining moments and then there was that stretch of time where he didn’t score for 9 games straight through the month of February. Some may say it was a hit sustained from Ottawa that shook him up a bit, but the fact of the matter is that every player has some sort of a drought, or off-time.  Unfortunately for David, that came at a pivotal point in the season for the Bruins and in return he spent some time on the third line centering Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kelly while Rich Peverley filled his spot.  Despite having an off-season, he was still able to be among the Bruins top forwards, posting 62 points with 23 goals and 39 assists.  We also have to remember that Krejci suffered from a concussion and sat out 7 games as well.  Towards the tail end of the season Krejci was able to get back in the swing of things and create some good momentum for the Bruins, earning his spot back on the first line alongside Milan Lucic and, for a short time, Tyler Seguin.

Grade for the Season: (B-)

He showed some great potential, but it seems to be a habit that Krejci falls into, going through bad spells and then through the second half of the year exploding as the playoffs near. While he has managed to find his game again, assuming he keeps up the positive +/- stats and continues to contribute in the scoring column, Krejci should provide the Bruins with an added confidence for the post-season playoffs.

#17 Milan Lucic

This year Lucic was among the Bruins top-scoring forwards, at one point being in a three-way tie with Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand. He finishes this season with 26 goals and 35 assists for 61 points, just one-point shy from last year. This year Lucic provided the Bruins with a lot more offensive opportunities, using his skill set and a more continuous shot on net rather than his fists. He showed fans that there is more than just a big, bad Bruin in him and that he has the ability to score great goals and make killer plays. In fact he was the first player to reach 20+ goals and 100+ penalty minutes this season, among only a handful altogether.

 

Grade for the season: (B+)

While he showed improvements this year, he still needs to find a happy medium and balance his game out. He needs to focus more on setting up plays and finishing his shots rather than finishing heavy hits and rekindling the bitter Mike Cammaleri feud every time they meet up. Last year in the playoffs Lucic battled through a broken toe and sinus infection to help Boston bring the Cup back home. He was also the main man who set up Nathan Horton for his game 7 overtime winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens. Lucic has the ability to set up game-winning plays, such as the one he presented this season against the Buffalo Sabres. As long as he brings his A-game to the table and doesn’t get too caught up in the emotions that will surely be flying around, the first line should be in good shape against the Caps.

#49 Rich Peverley 

Rich Peverley is someone that doesn’t get enough recognition from Boston sports fans. He is someone that gets overlooked a lot and just flies under the radar most  of the time, when in  reality, Peverley is one of the Bruins most valuable forwards.  He is versatile and has provided the team with 11 goals and 31 assists this season.  Despite being out for the better part of six weeks with a third degree MCL sprain, he still managed to be among the Bruins top forwards, with a team-high of 10 power play assists.

Grade for the season: (C)

For a forward that should be having a 20+ goal season, Peverley fell short. You can chalk it up to having a knee injury or simply that he had a bad season. Fortunately, he has the post-season to help boost his numbers (and ego) a little bit. A little inflation never hurt anyone, right?

#37 Patrice Bergeron

You can never say enough good things about Patrice Bergeron, he is a player that you build your team around. In all honesty, he is a miracle worker, a God of some sort, hell, they don’t call him Saint Patrice for nothing.  Bergeron has been one of the Bruins key players ever since he worked his way onto the roster in 2005.  Bergeron was able to post 64 points for the Bruins, numbers that haven’t been so high since his debut season thanks to a severe concussion in 2007-2008. He has been the father-figure among a line of youngsters and has, in a sense, molded Seguin and Marchand into the players that they are becoming, providing them with guidance and insight throughout the season. It’s no wonder his line is the top leading scorers of the team, with he himself having his second consecutive 20+ goal season. Being a shoe-in for the Selke Award and his leadership abilities, there is no question he is the biggest asset to this organization.

Grade for the season: (A+)

As stated above, there aren’t enough good things you can say about Patrice Bergeron. I’m honestly not sure I have ever witnessed this guy have an “off” game. He always makes crisp, tape-to-tape passes, stellar plays and beautiful, flawless goals that leave you wanting more. There is no doubt that he is one of the Bruins no so secret weapons heading into the playoffs. With his ability to create a play out of nothing and accurate shooting, there is no reason he shouldn’t help lead the Bruins to another Cup title.

#63 Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand was the second-highest top scorer for the Boston Bruins this season, his buddy Tyler Seguin beating him out in the last game of the season. He had a career-best 28 goals and 27 assists for 55 points and managed to post a +/- of 31.  Not too shabby for the “Little Ball of Hate.” Since last season’s playoffs Marchand toned down his ‘chirpiness’ and focused more on being a team player, hence the numbers. With less time spent in the penalty box, he was able to produce more numbers on the ice than in previous seasons.  His efforts combined with those of linemates Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron are sure to be among the best of the League when it comes to scoring in the playoffs.

Grade for the season: (A)

With Marchand focusing more on the scoring and opportunity aspect of the game, he provides the Bruins with a better chance at winning the Cup. Granted Shanahan keeps a close eye on the forward and due to his past, most calls don’t go in his favor, he is still one of the most valuable forwards for the Bruins team. It will be interesting to see if his attitude stays in check throughout the post-season or if the chippy and chirpy honey badger comes out to play.

#19 Tyler Seguin

In his rookie season Tyler only posted 11 goals and 11 assists. This season, he tripled those numbers and posted a team-high 29 goals and 38 assists for a combined 67 points(also a team-high). He became the youngest player in Bruins history to lead the team in points as well as the only player other than Wayne Gretzky to post a +34 over the course of a full NHL season at his age. This season Seguin also notched his first ever career hat trick against the Maple Leafs, not bad for a sophomore season.

Grade for the Season: (A)

This season it is expected that Seguin won’t be watching from the stands and that he will remain among the best two-way line the Bruins have to offer. While there is still some work to be done, Seguin proved that he can handle the fast-paced tempo last season as he debuted in the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning and posted a goal and assist in his first game.  We can expect to see great things coming from this young gun this post-season, for sure.

#23 Chris Kelly 

Chris Kelly, much like Rich Peverley is a name that is, for the most part, overlooked.  Kelly, who was given the honor of being named alternate Captain, has provided the Bruins with insurance this season. He posted a career-high 20 goals and a record of 18-0-0 for Bruins wins whenever he would score in a game.

Grade for the season: (A)

He provides depth along with centers Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci which makes him a key component in this years Cup run.  Along with incredible leadership qualities and on-ice talent, he also gets an honorable mention for not whining about losing his teeth after taking a big hit into the boards in late February during a practice in Minnesota. Kudos Kells!

#67 Benoit Pouliot

Former Canadien, also known as “Pou-Bear”, is another player who flies under the radar. He along with a few other Bruins this season, posted a career-best 16 goals and 16 assists for 32 points.  At the beginning of the season Pouliot was scary looking and didn’t appear to be promising as a Michael Ryder/Mark Stuart replacement like the Bruins were hoping to find. However, as the season progressed so did Pouliot’s skill set. He became more comfortable on the ice and with his teammates and found a rhythm with Chris Kelly. Many of his  goals scored were flawless and intriguing to watch, showing off some nasty puck handling skills. While he could still afford to learn to take a hit better, all around he is a pretty decent addition to the Championship roster.

Grade of the season: (B+)

As stated above, he could stand to be a bit tougher in areas and with the playoffs here, toughness is going to be a key factor. However, with his sometimes inability to stay on his feet, he does provide the Bruins with power play opportunities, so this could potentially work to the Bruins benefit. With any luck we will get to showcase some of his ‘miracle’ goals as the playoffs unfold.

#11 Gregory Campbell

The fourth line center has shown that he has more heart than most players could ever dream of. At least he has proven to be a man of his word, having plenty of boxing matches against guys that clearly have the upper hand(ahem, Corvo). Despite his efforts this year, he didn’t really produce any stellar numbers on the stat sheets, being one of just seven Bruins to finish with a (-) plus-minus this season.

Grade for the season: (C)

I have to give the credit where it is due for willingly fighting people who had the upper hand and not backing down, but as a center who provided the Bruins with impressive stats last season, he didn’t quite meet the standards this season. Sorry Soupy, but you’re going to have to try a little bit harder.

#22 Shawn Thornton 

154 penalty minutes, a penalty shot resulting in a goal, 5 goals and 8 assists total. Impressive statistics for the Irish Man. While Bruins fans can look forward to seeing him around town for the next two years, we can only hope that he doesn’t go another 30 games without scoring. (Yikes!) While he may lead the NHL with 20 fighting majors, he needs to put just as much effort into making plays and scoring as he does fighting.

Grade for the season: (C+)

While his penalty shot was quite impressive and he is one of the key motivators for the Bruins with his instigating and fighting skills, he still needs to find a way to be better offensively.  Once he is able to balance his physicality and skills, the fourth line will be BOOMING. (Literally)

#20 Daniel Paille

Daniel Paille, the funniest guy on the team that doesn’t know he’s funny, according to Tyler Seguin. While he may be goofy on and off the ice, providing us with some “Oh my God” moments this season between his open-ice hit from Brooks Orpik to his puck to the face against the Islanders in November. He is also the breakaway king, I’m not sure I have witnessed anyone get so many breakaways as this guy, unfortunately they don’t always go in, finishing with just 9 goals and a -5.

Grade for the season: (C)

While he may be the breakaway king, he needs to capitalize on them more often. Whether this means he slows down his speed and places the puck better or sets up a play, he needs to find the back of the net more often. Regardless, he has provided some potential and always sports a good attitude.

#12 Brian Rolston

Acquired at the trade deadline in March, the former Bruin was happily welcomed back to Boston. Although his statistics weren’t the greatest coming in, he mirrored efforts put forth by Recchi the previous season and provided the Bruins with veteran status that is always welcome.  As part of the organization he posted 3 goals and 12 assists and finished with a +7, much better than the -12 he had with the Islanders prior to the trade.

Grade for the season: (A)

It’s really a shame that Rolston came back at the tail end of the season, but to have him for the Cup run provides the Bruins with more depth and an (almost) unfair advantage. With so many talented forwards, the Bruins are a force to be reckoned with and are going to be tough to beat down the playoff stretch as they seem to be finding their niche.

#38 Jordan Caron

One of the youngest guys on the team and someone who, like Tyler Seguin, came out of his shell this season. Caron may have only posted 7 goals and 8 assists, but he managed to get 57 shots in 48 games. He spent most of his time on the third line this season with Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kelly and earned a spot in the post season playoffs. He has the opportunity to start making a name for himself here and now, it will be interesting to see how the story unfolds.

Grade for the season: (A)

Caron has proven himself to be worthy of a spot on the Bruins roster, getting the call to suit up over forwards like Daniel Paille. His second half of the season provided him with career-high totals and he spent the majority of his season with the Boston Bruins instead of the affiliating Providence Bruins. I’ll be curious to see if he has a stellar post season mirroring that of Seguin’s last season.

#18 Nathan Horton

While he may be out indefinitely right now, the beginning of the season, prior to his concussion, Nathan was just beginning to find his game. He admitted early on that he didn’t feel”quite right”, but had just begun to find his game, notching 17 goals in a 46 game span.  He easily could have been the top contender for leading high scorer, had he not suffered his injury.

Grade for the season: (B+)

It is most likely Horton will not be back at any point in time during the playoff series, however, the positive remains that he has at least set foot on the ice. Unfortunately, that is the only bright side as of right now for the young superstar. (Aside from the birth of his new son)

#33 Zdeno Chara

6’9″, 255 lbs and a 108.8mph slap shot. What is there not to love about captain Zdeno Chara? He’s a defending Cup Champion, a record-breaker and played in his 1000th career game this season. He had 8 power play goals and 18 power play points providing a killer offensive season and putting him among the top 3 defensemen in the League. Once again he is in the running for the Norris Trophy, as he should be. His performance on and off the ice is one to be admired by all, hands down.

Grade for the season: (A+)

There really isn’t anything this gentle giant can’t do. He can pass, he can skate, he can shoot and he can place a hit. What’s most important? He knows what it takes to win it all and will stop at nothing to get there, dehydration couldn’t even keep him down.

#21 Andrew Ference

Eco-Friendly Ference, while he may have had his ups and downs the past few seasons, this season he provided a stellar performance with totals that haven’t been seen since he was a member of the Calgary Flames organization.  As much of a defensive asset he is on the ice, he is just as much of an asset off the ice and in the locker room.

Grade for the season: B

Ference has posted some impressive numbers this season and with a little more effort could be looking at career-bests. On the plus side, if the Bruins in fact win the Cup again, they already have their tattoo artist ready. (Let’s just hope they spell ‘champions’ right this time…)

#14 Joe Corvo

(Sigh) Oh where to begin on Joe Corvo. All season I tried to cut this guy some slack and give him the benefit of the doubt. We all know he has a bad rap for his previous history in Boston, but putting that aside, there is no denying he was atrocious this season and we would have been better off with Tomas Kaberle. (Yeah, I put that statement out there) Corvo didn’t appear to have any confidence or knowledge when it came to defensive positioning and while he may have a powerful shot, he rarely found the back of the net, registering only 4 goals.

Grade for the season: (D)

While he may suck at being an offensive-defenseman, he did provide the Bruins with some decent rebound opportunities that resulted in goals scored. He posted 21 assists and ended the season with a +10, not bad, but definitely not ‘great’ by any means.

#55 Johnny Boychuk

When I think of the ‘toughest’ guy on the team Johnny B comes to mind. He’s a consistent defenseman that isn’t afraid to get in the way to block a puck and thanks to Chris Neil and Arron Asham, no stranger to injuries either. Despite having some minor setbacks the second half of the season, that is all they were, minor. This guy is a warrior and nothing can keep him down. With someone who is so strong and seemingly made of steel, the Bruins have their secret weapon.

Grade for the season: (A)

With Boychuk being ready to go for the start of the playoffs, the Bruins are looking to be in good shape defense wise. With this man’s ability to block shots and use his body as a shield, the Bruins will pose as a threat to anyone in their path.

#54 Adam McQuaid

Biggest clutz of the team would have to be Adam McQuaid. I have never seen a guy get injured so much and at, literally, his own expense. His positioning, or lack there of, is what generally gets Adam into trouble. Currently he is out with an eye injury and despite efforts to come back against Ottawa, he is now listed as day-to-day with no timetable.

Grade for the season: (C)

While he has the ability to be a heavy hitter and momentum finder, much like Shawn Thornton, he needs to make sure that he is 100% healthy and ready to go before even thinking about playing in the playoffs. The stakes are far too high to be risking him getting injured any more/worse.

#44 Dennis Seidenberg

The German Hammer, who knew that Seidenberg had it in him to completely lay someone out?! While he outplayed most defensemen with 24 minutes of ice time a night, unfortunately Corvo’s efforts didn’t provide him with any stellar statistics. However, that doesn’t mean Seidenberg isn’t a defenseman to be bragged about. Seidenberg knows how to use the body and is great at clearing the puck out of the zone and creating offensive opportunities, if given the chance.

Grade for the season: (B)

While he may not be the lead-scoring defenseman on the team, he still provides the Bruins with a lot of opportunities and numerous rebounds. In fact, he was the guy who scored from center ice earlier this season, yes, that’s right center ice. Who wouldn’t want that asset on their team?

#6 Greg Zanon

In his first game as a Bruin this guy made an impact in my mind as he planted a heavy hit that sent his opponent flying. He definitely showed that he had the potential to be a part of the “Big Bad Bruins.” Since then he has recorded ten blocked shots against the Ottawa Senators in their last regular season match up and proved why he was chosen to be here.

Grade for the season: (C)

While Zanon has only been with Boston a short while, it took him a while to really get into the style of play. For the most part he was a positive influence on the ice and contributed what he could, but there is still work to be done if he plans on gaining extra playing time in the playoffs.

#27 Mike Mottau

Brought in with forward Brian Rolston, Mottau is a Boston native and is always found with a smile on his face. Granted he only played in six games with the Bruins, you have to give him credit because one of them he stepped up and played offense with no notice as Benoit Pouliot skated in warm ups and stated right before the game he was unable to play. Kudos to Mottau for stepping up and showing his true colors, taking one for the team and doing his best.

Grade for the season: (A)

This guys drive and determination to play a sport that he loves in undeniable and admirable and for that reason alone I am perfectly fine with him staying in Boston as long as he wants. He is a perfect example of a fan-favorite, his personality is contagious and you can tell he really enjoys what he is doing, especially for a hometown crowd.

#40 Tuukka Rask

Despite a brief moment with the media where Rask stated he would like to get more playing time, he was pretty solid through the beginning of the season. However, he hit a bump in the road as did the rest of the team in January-February and then would be injured in the beginning of March with an abdomen/groin injury.  He is expected to be back in time for the playoffs to begin, relieving back-up Anton Khudobin. Rask ended this season(in March) with a .929 save percentage and 2.05 goals against average.

Grade for the season: (B)

Despite Rask’s efforts, he didn’t live up to his full potential. Last season Rask would practically pull the Tim Thomas and stand on his head in the crease. While he looked more confident in between the pipes, he didn’t provide enough confidence for the entire team.  With his injury it is less likely that Rask will see a lot of playing time in the playoffs, but every starter needs a break every once in a while…

#30 Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas, a name generally associated with greatness did not play up to his full potential this year. Thomas made a crap load of risky plays this season and seemed to spend more time outside the crease than in it. As if his risky business wasn’t enough to scare fans, he also decided to go public with his religious feelings and freedom of speech to air some dirty political laundry. Yet, when asked about it he completely shunned media and ignored all efforts. Granted, you can’t blame the guy for not wanting to talk about it, it has nothing to do with his game. However, he’s in the public eye and should know anything he says will in fact be scrutinized.

Grade for the season: (C)

Tim Thomas wasn’t ‘great’ this season, but he wasn’t horrible either. He is still a phenomenal goalie and with any hope the past few games he has had off will do some good. With any luck we will get the same Tim Thomas we had all last season in the post season, the focused and determined net minder that was a brick wall.

#1 Marty Turco

While he may have only played in six games with the Bruins and didn’t have the greatest statistics, Marty was one of the best acquisitions the Bruins could have made. They were in a tight spot goaltender wise, with Hutchinson being the only contender but very inexperienced. With Turco we got some veteran experience, it was just a matter of getting his tempo up to par. Unfortunately for him, his time spent in Europe did more harm then good.

Grade for the season: (B-)

While Turco tried, his 3.68 goals against average and .855 save percentage don’t lie. He definitely showed signs of wear and tear and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hangs the bright yellow pads up after this season. However, he was fun to briefly get to know and did provide Tim Thomas with a couple games of rest heading into the palyoffs.

Overall this year’s team isn’t all that different from that of last season. Granted we don’t have our key finisher Nathan Horton, but at the tail end of the playoffs last season we didn’t have him either. With the depth the Bruins have and handful of goal scorers, combined with a strong defensive backbone, there is no reason the Bruins can’t have back-to-back up wins.

 

If you would like to see what our rival has to say on this matter, feel free to take a look at VC Chillin‘. Or simply applaud the efforts she sets forth in trying to portray the Caps as better than the Bruins.

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