With the Stanley Cup Finals (painfully) in the rearview mirror, it’s time to break down the Bruins performances and assign letters grades for the season. As a team, the B’s rode a roller coaster of highs and lows through the season. Some played better than others. Some shined brightest during the playoffs. Some may have worn out their welcomes. First we’ll hand out marks for the forwards, then the defense, and finally the goaltenders and front office.
First Line Firepower
RW – Nathan Horton: B-
The big right winger gets a bit of a lower grade here because of inconsistencies during the regular season. We’ve come to expect from Horton that he’ll come out hot, shut it down for long stretches, and then score goals in bunches. Chalk it up to general streakiness, but the B’s could stand a little more consistency from the first liner. His decision to leave this summer may hamper the B’s offense a bit, but could also be a blessing in disguise, especially salary cap wise.
C – David Krejci: B+/A-
Krejci tends to sneak under the radar during the regular season, putting up solid but dependable numbers. It’s during the playoffs that the slick center steps up and makes his presence known. Not only did Krejci pace scorers through much of the playoffs, he put up some timely goals. He also showed a seldom seen physical side as the playoffs wore on, even becoming a bit of a nuisance during the Blackhawks series. Carrying a bit of that mean streak over could serve Krejci well moving forward. Certainly worth every penny the B’s are paying him.
LW – Milan Lucic: B
Lucic actually raised his grade to a B with a stellar playoff performance. He led in hits by a long shot and really stepped up his game, scoring some timely goals and being the physical presence the B’s and their fans expect to see when he takes the ice. It marked a big difference from the guy who came to camp allegedly out of shape, wafted his way through the season, and saw time on the 4th line by April. If that was a wakeup call, hopefully Looch doesn’t take a summer snooze.
Second Line, Skating Fine
RW – Tyler Seguin: B-
In November and December all anyone heard about was Seguin lighting up the Swiss Elite League. He couldn’t seem to capture the lightning again back overseas, starting sluggishly before coming on mid-season. Once the playoffs began, he was nearly invisible again. Give credit where it’s due, as the playoffs wore on, he found new ways to get involved in the play, setting up line-mates with some slick passes and even throwing a few hits in to boot. The young gun got some good chances, but wasn’t able to finish them. It’s a trend the B’s need him to reverse. Peter Chiarelli has already called him out publicly. They don’t have much in the way of snipers and they need Seguin to be that game changer like Patrick Kane was for the Blackhawks. Hopefully Seguin draws positively from the experience.
C – Patrice Bergeron: A+
Patrice Bergeron is, arguably, the most complete player in the game. Few can touch his sheer range of skills in all aspects. He put up his usual, consistent numbers during the regular season while remaining a defensive zone game changer and a force in the faceoff circle. The playoffs were even better, where he stepped up with some huge goals and re-defined the theory of a pain tolerance. This guy is all heart and class and the undisputed leader of this club.
LW – Brad Marchand: B
The little ball of hate charged out of the gate with a goal scoring prowess and noticeably stronger wrists on what’s becoming a signature snapshot. Marshy led the team in points and brought the offense when needed. The playoffs on the other hand were a different story. The offense dried up a bit and his normally irritating ways weren’t as noted. He seemed off his game a bit. Not a great time for that. The nose-faced-killah loses marks for a disappointing crunch time performance.
Merlot Liners Get it Done
W – Daniel Paille: A-
Paille came to play in this lockout shortened season. He put up strong numbers for a forth liner during the regular season while contributing to the all important penalty kill. Come playoff hockey, Paille stepped it up even more, earning himself a spot on the third line by the Finals and scoring a pair of big goals in the process. Don’t expect the offense to carry over to next season, but Paille should continue to contribute on the defensive side of things.
C – Gregory Campbell: B
Campbell staged one of the gutsiest performances of all time, propping himself up on one leg after breaking the other, helping to stop a powerplay during a crucial moment against the Penguins. That grit helped inspire the Bruins in a big way. It’s not surprising to anyone who watches the tenacious Campbell on a regular basis, as he often crashes the net hard, drops the gloves with much larger opponents, and in general just plays bigger than he is. That said, between the regular and post season, Campbell gave the B’s what they expected, a penalty killing fourth line center who can pop in goals and win faceoffs. Nothing more, nothing less. He’ll be back with a chip on his shoulder.
W – Shawn Thornton: B
Thorty was his normal self through the regular season, battling along and creating energy on the fourth line. It was that energy that seemed to dwindle and sometimes be missing in the playoffs though. Perhaps it’s the reduced playing time that makes it tough to hop out there with all cyclinders firing, but at times, Thornton seemed to be missing something on certain shifts in the playoffs. On others, he made driving plays to the net and just barely missed a handful of timely (and pretty goals). The fan favorite is still gives you plenty more than just a couple of stone fists.
Third Line Scraps
RW - Jaromir Jagr: C+
Jags looked like a great pickup through the end of the regular season, tallying 9 points in 11 games and creating plenty of space for his new, younger linemates. Success didn’t carry over into the playoffs however as the 41 year old future Hall of Famer’s speed and energy became evident at times. While still playing valuable minutes and creating chances, Jagr just wasn’t consistent enough. Getting shut out in the goals column doesn’t help much either. For a late season pickup, the B’s needed more out of him.
C/W – Rich Peverley: C
Peverley followed up a mediocre regular season with a dismal playoff showing, netting just two goals and no points. He was rarely used on faceoffs and didn’t factor in much on special teams. Pevs just isn’t the same guy they added two years ago when he combined speed and energy for timely goals, and added a presence in the faceoff dot. It may be time to cut ties with the once versatile winger in a salary dump.
C – Chris Kelly: C+
Chris Kelly was probably the single most disappointing Bruin this season. Following a career high 20 goal campaign last season, Kelly followed up with an injury riddled 9 point campaign. His saving grace is that he came alive late in the playoffs after being paired with sparkplugs Tyler Seguin and Daniel Paille. The line looked smooth out there and could be an option for next season. Kelly bought himself some time with the performance.
And the Rest
C/W – Jordan Caron: D+
The third line wing spot was Caron’s to lose coming into camp and he did so in short fashion. In 17 appearances he netted just 3 points. He didn’t fare much better down in Providence either. Here’s to hoping the young winger can turn things around over the summer and give the B’s options up front come September.
W – Kaspars Daugavins: C -
Daugavins was a shear depth pickup and played his role well enough for the most part. His glaring blunder will remain pulling an unneeded extra move on an already beat Corey Crawford following a Tyler Seguin laser pass during triple overtime of Game 1 against the Hawks. He eventually played himself out of a spot with Claude Julien opting for an offensive touch from Karl Soderberg.
W – Karl Soderberg: Incomplete
The burly swede came highly touted and showed a few flashes of potential, but never truly got a chance to get going. He played in 6 games of the regular season and playoff each. A fresh start at training camp should do him well in adjusting to new linemates and finding a groove. A start in Providence to hone his game could be in his future, but the big club will hope he can bring some offense at some point.