Haggerty's Bruins midseason report card
Haggerty's Bruins midseason report card
The Boston Bruins are 41 games into the season, and they sit in wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. So it’s so far, so good for the Black and Gold after plenty of tumult and roster turnover from last summer really shook things up in the first three plus months of the season. It’s been a very streaky hockey club to this point, and the Winter Classic loss to the Montreal Canadiens was an unmitigated disaster that’s a tough one to bounce back from.
But it’s also totally true that a well-designed hockey trade or two could do a great deal to strengthen this hockey team, and push them over the top as a threat to do more than simply qualify for the postseason. But for today it’s about the Bruins team that’s built things up to where they are right now, and handing out some midseason grades to the organization with another 41 games to go in the regular season. Here is the B’s midseason report card:
Patrice Bergeron (A+)
Patrice Bergeron has been a force all season for a Bruins team that's needed his stability, and required him to play at an extremely high level while the new and young teammates find their footing. He's done just that while on pace for 30 goals, 70 plus points and a career-high 20:03 of ice time per game. He should be in the Hart Trophy conversation.
Matt Beleskey (A)
Matt Beleskey is on pace for 14 goals and 40 points after a slow start to the season, but has been everything the Bruins wanted him to be. He sets a physical tone and is hard to play against, and has really brought that workmanlike attitude to the Bruins this season. He gives it everything on every shift, and there is a lot to be said for that.
Jonas Gustavsson (A)
Jonas Gustavsson came in off the street as a training camp tryout, and has turned into an invaluable backup goaltender playing for the veteran minimum behind Tuukka Rask. He gets the grade for the simple fact that Rask won’t have to play 70 games again this season, and that Gustavsson keeps his team in the games he does play.
Loui Eriksson (A-)
Loui Eriksson has slowed down a little bit offensively as of late, but is still on pace for the kind of numbers (28 goals, 68 points) the Bruins thought they were getting when they first made the Tyler Seguin trade. He’s helped carry the team offensively, but has also had a few “off” games mixed in as well.
David Krejci (A-)
This was a straight ‘A’ for Krejci until he suffered his upper body injury, and started missing time in a season where the Bruins desperately needed him to stay healthy. Thirty-three points in 35 games and an average of 20:17 ice time per game are nothing to sneeze at.
Brad Marchand (A-)
Brad Marchand was trending toward an A+ until he got suspended for the hit on Mark Borowiecki, and showed some of the lack of good judgment that hurts him at times. But a 30-goal season would be huge for Marchand, and for the Bruins as well. Credit No. 63 for also taking over as a vocal leader in the B’s dressing room this season.
Torey Krug (B+)
Torey Krug’s goal-scoring production has been a little bit off this season, but he’s also topping 20 minutes of ice time per game while responding to the Bruins need for a couple of top-4 D-men. Krug has been a huge puck-moving presence for the Black and Gold, and should be with the B’s for a long time to come.
Landon Ferraro (B+)
Ferraro was picked up off the scrap heap, and immediately gave the Bruins a jolt at a key juncture of the season. He’s cooled off a bit since first being acquired on waivers, but Ferraro absolutely looks like he’s got a place on this team as a versatile grinder with good skating wheels.
Ryan Spooner (B)
Ryan Spooner has played in every game for the Bruins this season, and is on pace for 18 goals and 58 points while also surviving as a two-way center filling in for the injured Krejci. Spooner has been excellent over the last six weeks for the Bruins, and is establishing himself as an NHL youngster with a lot of upside.
Zdeno Chara (B)
The numbers tell one story as the 38-year-old defenseman is on pace for 10 goals and 44 points, and is skating 24:21 of ice time per game. But Chara has definitely had some rough games as well, and it seems like more of them have come lately as the D-man’s ice time burden starts to weigh on him a little more. But overall he’s been Boston’s No. 1 defenseman again this season, and they would collapse without a suitable replacement for him were he gone.
Adam McQuaid (B)
Adam McQuaid had a pretty strong season until he was hurt via the Zach Sill cheap shot from behind, and has been the consummate, tough stay-at-home defenseman that has avoided a lot of big mistakes on the ice. The Bruins miss him right now on the slow road to recovery.
Tuukka Rask (B-)
The Bruins goaltender wasn’t good for the first six weeks of the season, and it was equal parts bad defense and shaky goaltending. But now Tuukka Rask has been back to his usual shutdown self over the last few months, and his numbers are now creeping back up toward full respectability.
Jimmy Hayes (B-)
Jimmy Hayes is on pace for 20 goals and 42 points, and those would be acceptable numbers that build a little bit on his last season in Florida. But Hayes has also been very streaky, and gets away from playing the big man’s game a little too often.
Frank Vatrano (B-)
Frank Vatrano has enjoyed some high moments (scoring his first NHL goal in his first game against the Canadiens, and a hat trick against the Penguins) in what’s been the typical up-and-down rookie season. There is plenty of potential there with the 21-year-old Vatrano, and of that there is no doubt as he navigates his first NHL season in Boston as a Massachusetts kid.
Colin Miller (C+)
Colin Miller has been excellent with the offensive production, and continues to show good offensive instincts while pacing for six goals and 28 points this season. But he’s had some costly mistakes in coverage, and has definitely struggled as a rookie going through the NHL for the first time. It will definitely make him better in the end.
Joonas Kemppainen (C+)
The big Finnish center gives the Bruins some size and faceoff ability down the middle of the ice, but has looked extremely challenged at the offensive end of the ice. He’s a very limited player that defenses don’t really have to pay too much mind in the attack zone.
Dennis Seidenberg (C+)
Dennis Seidenberg has been okay since coming back from his back surgery, and hasn’t been the problem for the Bruins on most nights. But he also isn’t exactly turning back the clock to what he was five years ago, and is a minus-1 on the season.
Zac Rinaldo (C-)
Zac Rinaldo is what he is. He hits hard, he hustles and he plays with an edge that the Bruins have when they want to be hard to play against. But he doesn’t bring much to the table besides the physicality, and needs to do a better job of sticking up for his teammates when things happen on the ice.
Brett Connolly (D)
Brett Connolly had a good first month, but has fallen off a cliff since then. He’s got just one goal in his last 30 games, and spent a great deal of that unproductive time skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. He needs to pick it up in a big way with the B’s in the second half if he wants to stick with this team. A pace for ten goals and 28 points isn’t good enough for a guy the Bruins gave up two second round picks to acquire.
Kevan Miller (D-)
It’s not all Miller’s fault because the Bruins have pushed him into a top-4 role this season while facing down the other team’s best players, and he’s been very, very prone to mistakes in his own end. The 19:52 of ice time per game is at least a couple of minutes too much for a player best served as a bottom pairing D-man. It all underscores how badly the Bruins need another top-4 D-man, and how miscast Miller is as a shutdown defenseman.
Claude Julien (A)
You can criticize the Bruins coach for his line combinations and his day-to-day decisions. Those come with the gig of being a head coach in the NHL. But nobody can argue that Julien hasn't pulled as much as possible out of this team in the first half of the season amid some difficult circumstances. Julien needed to be great this season, and he has been that while leading the Bruins through their roster turnover.
Cam Neely (B)
Neely oversaw big changes in management and on the roster this summer, and never wavered from the conviction that the Bruins could be a playoff team this season. He's halfway to being totally right.
Don Sweeney (C)
A nice waiver pickup in Landon Ferraro has helped, and Matt Beleskey has turned out to be a great signing given his style of play, and effort level on a nightly basis. But the grade doesn't get better until he finds a solution to his defensemen problem, and makes the move to address it once and for all.
David Pastrnak, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, Chris Kelly, Tommy Cross, Alex Khokhlachev, Seth Griffith, Tyler Randell, Max Talbot and Matt Irwin.