Halfway through the regular season, the Boston Bruins find themselves third in the Atlantic division with the Toronto Maple Leafs having five games in hand at the number four slot. Not exactly the kind of cushion the Bruins were hoping for coming out of the All Star Break.
Here’s a look at the midseason report card as the Bruins prepare for the second half of the season:
The Boston Bruins find themselves 24th overall in offense during 5v5 situations with a 45.64 GF%. Per 60 minutes, they are averaging 1.98 goals for with a league leading shots-for total of 1,423.
How would you grade our offense?
David Backes: B
The Boston Bruins signed the former Blues’ captain to a five-year, $30 million contract during last season’s NHL free agency Friday. Backes currently has 11 goals and 11 assists for 22 points half way into the season for the Boston Bruins. He has found himself as the winger for the second line with Krejci and Vatrano from time to time. His physical presence and leadership role is exactly what the Bruins need and has spiked some sparks to the lineup, but it is not consistent.
I would like to see a little more offensive production from Backes. Let’s hope he will stay healthy for the second half of the season and bring back that physical, bruising role that the Bruins saw last free agency.
Matt Beleskey: D
When Matt Beleskey came to Boston, he brought the physical aspect back for quite awhile. However, and I do not know if it is because of his injury, but that seems to have slowed down. Now, he takes stupid penalties and his game seems to be awfully slow. Hopefully the left-winger has a strong finish and bring the fire to turn his unfortunately awful season around.
Patrice Bergeron: B
Despite having a relatively slow start to season, Patrice Bergeron seems to be heating up as of lately. He currently has 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points on the season. His lack of offense has really impacted the Bruins’ production and is certainly a big part to their offensive struggles
Austin Czarnik: C+
This kid is fast, and I can honestly see a big future ahead of him if he stays a Boston Bruin. However, he is very inconsistent but has shown flashes from here and there. He’s aggressive, has shown that he can finish, and is very consistent when it comes to physicality. His size, however brings struggle to his game, and if he wants to stay at the NHL level, he should focus on his strength to become a better alternate on the roster.
Jimmy Hayes: D-
I would have given him an F, but I felt as if that would have been a little harsh. Overall, Hayes’ performance has been horrendous. When he plays physical and plays on the puck hard, it definitely is a bonus, but his inconsistency and very little sparks is not what the Bruins need right now.
Need I say more?
David Krejci: B
Just like Bergeron, Krejci got off to a slow start; and just like Bergeron, he’s been heating up lately. Krejci found himself coming into the season not knowing who would accompany him on the second line. The constant changes to his line could be a factor to his relatively poor play, but he seems to have made chemistry with right winger, David Backes. Hopefully, he continues to play physical and brings his leadership role to make his line more dependant.
Brad Marchand: A
Brad Marchand is the type of guy who you hate to play against but would love to have him on your team...and this year just proves that. His World Cup performance captured the heart of Canadian fans nationwide, and proved that he is a phenomenal player. He currently has 23 goals and 31 assists for 54 points halfway into the season. Hopefully he continues to play his physical style and bring the consistency to the second half of the season.
Dominic Moore: B+
Honestly, his penalty kill is exactly what the Bruins need. His ability to win faceoffs and always playing 100% has been a key factor to his play. This signing is exactly what the Bruins needed for a solid fourth liner.
Riley Nash: C
His inconsistent play and third line minutes has earned Nash 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points on the season and currently has a +/- of -5. This type of play could easily be replaced by someone more physical and just overall better.
David Pastrnak: A
David Pastrnak is currently having one of his best seasons yet. 20 goals and 21 assists brings him second on the team for 41 points. Right now, it seems like he is on a scoring drought, and hopefully brings more consistent scoring into the second half of the season.
Tim Schaller: B
Schaller brings the strength and size to what a fourth line NHLer should be. He has 6 goals and 7 assists for 13 points on the season and consistently plays up to his expectation every night.
Ryan Spooner: C+
Spooner is exactly what the Bruins needed for the power play. His ability to move the puck is awe-inspiring. However, his size and strength makes his play inconsistent and if he could learn how to continually finish, he could become a scoring threat.
Frank Vatrano: A-
Vatrano missed three months with a foot injury, and because of that, he’s only played 20 games. In those 20 games, he’s recorded 6 goals and 3 assists for 9 points and currently sits at -7. However, as soon as he came back, he sparked a fire under the Bruins’ offense and really brought back some life into their play. He can be inconsistent at times, but hopefully in the second half of the season, he consistently brings his physical and goal-scoring play.
It was clear at the beginning of the season that defense was still going to be a problem within this club. And it is still clear to this day that Bruins need a reliable defenseman and consistency within their defenseman. The Bruins have tried bringing in young guys like O’Gara, Morrow, Cross, Casto, and Grzelcyk...all who have shown potential, but clearly are not fit to stay up in the NHL level.
Who would you say deserves the “A” for defense?
Brandon Carlo: A
The rookie defenseman currently has four goals and eight assists for 12 points and sits with a +/- of -1. Not bad. He is paired with defenseman Zdeno Chara for the top defensive pairing. The rookie has shown that he can compete at the NHL level despite making rookie mistakes. He could possibly be the Bruins future for defense and hopefully shows consistency in the second half.
Zdeno Chara: A-
Believe it or not, Chara has been our best defenseman this season. He is consistent with little slip ups here-and-there but overall has been very dependable. He brings his “A-game” just about every night and continuously proves his captaincy. He is becoming older and has been slowing down his game, but when he finds his rhythm, everything seems to click for the vet.
Torey Krug: B
Many would argue that Krug is our best defenseman, and to some extent I can agree...that he is our best defenseman on the power play. Unlike Chara, Krug is able to handle the puck well and skate into the offensive zone more efficiently. However, if Krug works on his strength more in the offseason, I can see him as a reliable and consistent defenseman.
John-Michael Liles: C
When Liles brings his physical game every night, it is definitely a game changer. But he is insanely inconsistent and hopefully during the second half the vet can continue to bring his physicality.
Adam McQuaid: C
McQuaid is not someone I would want to mess with. We need him to continuously bring his physical play every night. He’s not the best defenseman on the Bruins, but hopefully during the second half of the season, he can continue to play his role on the team: someone who sticks up for his teammates and gets the team going on the ice.
Colin Miller: C+
In some ways, Colin Miller reminds me of Torey Krug in ways that his ability to move the puck is phenomenal...but the thing that makes Miller stand out is his strength and big figure. He is showing that he can compete at the NHL level and hopefully, for the second half of the season he continues to drop the gloves.
Kevan Miller: B
I cannot stand Kevan, so it pains me to say that K. Miller has shown that you cannot hate him so far this season. Did that make sense? He has been a bottom-pairing defenseman for the Bruins this season, and that is exactly the role he needs to have on the B’s. Hopefully he will have a strong finish to the season.
The backup goalie struggles continue for the Bruins half way into the season. The Bruins have played 55 games and Rask has started/played in 44. Backup goalies for the Bruins are 1-10-0 this season and has caused the Bruins to really depend on Rask. Because of that, I will not grade Khudobin or McIntyre...
Tuukka Rask: B
At the beginning of the season it seemed as if Rask was having one of his best seasons yet...as if he could possibly be a serious threat for the Vezina. His play just before the All Star Break seemed to begin to slip. He currently has a 2.31 GAA and .911 SV%. As of recently, Rask has been inconsistent and hopefully come the second half the season, he finds his rhythm and becomes the goalie that the Bruins can rely on once again.
All stats can be found at hockeydb.com and hockey-refernce.com.
Photo: (Causeway Crowd)