Haggerty's Bruins midseason report card
Haggerty's Bruins midseason report card
With the Bruins coming out of the All-Star Break weekend, here’s a look at a midseason report card as they ready for the final 30 games of the regular season. There are some players that have managed to rise above expectations in an uneven, largely unsatisfying season for the B’s, but there are also many players skulking below expectations in a year where the Bruins needed to make a step forward. Here are the grades for the Black and Gold at the natural break in the schedule for Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game:
Brad Marchand: A-
Marchand went through a stretch where he wasn’t quite his explosive self, but it’s hard to argue with 21 goals and 49 points of production in 52 games while fighting through any World Cup-related fatigue this season. He deserved to be Boston’s representation at the All-Star game and he was red-hot right before the break as the Bruins desperately needed wins and points. He even somehow managed to escape a suspension on the “dangerous tripping” play with Niklas Kronwall right ahead of the All-Star break, so everything is coming up positive for him right now.
David Pastrnak: A
We know that the 20-year-old went through a 17-game stretch where he didn’t score a goal, but Pastrnak has still made a major breakthrough in his third NHL season. Pastrnak has 20 goals and 38 points along with a plus-14 rating, and has already set career-highs in pretty much all offensive categories. He’s on a pace for 30 plus goals and 60 plus points and is Boston’s best offensive hope for a game-breaking player. He just needs to continue working on the consistency things, so are most other 20-year-olds in the NHL.
Patrice Bergeron: B-
You can’t go any lower on the grade scale than the “B” range for a guy in Bergeron that brings so much to the table, and who seemed to clearly be playing through an injury during most of the first half. But the B’s need the offense from No. 37 along with the face offs and defense, and he’s on pace for 18 goals and 39 points playing with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. That’s certainly a big part of the team’s offensive struggles to this point, though Bergeron has been heating up more as of late.
David Krejci: D
Krejci got off to a slow start coming back from hip surgery and is a minus-11 with 30 games to go in the regular season. The 17 goals and 49 points actually aren’t that far off his usual regular season production, but No. 46 hasn’t really been able to create a viable second scoring line to go along with Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak this season. He needs to be better considering he’s getting paid $7 plus million per season to be a frontline, franchise center. He has not been that guy consistently this season.
Torey Krug: B
Krug also got off to a slow start coming off shoulder surgery, and has been a minus player (minus-7) this season while being asked to play a top-4 role on the Black and Gold. He’s projected to finish with six goals and 49 points and that’s good offensive production, and he’s been very good puck-moving and on the PP for the last six weeks. It would be ideal if the Bruins could scale back his minutes and shifts against opponents that can hurt him in the D-zone, but that’s not really the undersized Krug’s fault either way.
Ryan Spooner: C-
This is a tough one because Spooner has been forced to play on the wing for most of the season, and that's a place where the 24-year-old has ever felt comfortable. But he’s projecting for 11 goals and 38 points along with a minus-5 rating, and that isn’t good enough for somebody they wanted to play a much bigger offensive role this season. He doesn’t consistently play up to his speed and skill, and that needs to happen for him to be a better player.
David Backes: C
Yet another player that you’d like to see a little bit more offense from, but a player that has brought some toughness, leadership and accountability to a dressing room that has needed more of all those things. One has to hope he stays healthier in the second half, and that he can play a little more of the bruising role he played in the final game vs. Pittsburgh ahead of the break. The Bruins brought Backes on board to help lead the way and share the load with Boston’s best players, and he needs to do more of that over the final stretch.
Dominic Moore: A
One of the only players on the Bruins roster to go way above and beyond what was expected. He’s on pace for 13 goals and 24 points, has been a plus player and is killing penalties and winning face offs. He was an afterthought signing, but has been a fourth line staple that’s held things together there. Moore has been a good signing for Don Sweeney in the “credit where it’s due” department.
Austin Czarnik: D+
The 24-year-old Czarnik has shown flashes, but he hasn’t been the consistent factor with speed, aggressiveness and finish that he showed he might be during the preseason, or during his rookie year in the AHL last season. He misses the net quite a bit on scoring chances and is always going to be fighting uphill in the size and strength department. He needs to make himself more of a factor if he wants to stay at the NHL level, and the Bruins need to be looking for a better alternative if they want their roster to be more successful.
Tim Schaller: B+
The New Hampshire-born Schaller is yet another player that’s been asked to do more than he’s capable of, but would be a real find if he was simply the fourth line winger he’s supposed to be at the NHL level. He projects to 10 goals and 22 points and has the size and strength they lack on the wing, and has shown some snarl in his game at times. He could stand to play that way a bit more once he figures out where to draw the line in terms of taking penalties. But Schaller has been very good for the B’s.
Brandon Carlo: B+
Carlo was a revelation in the first couple of months as a 20-year-old top pair defenseman, but has hit the rookie wall hard in the last month plus of action. The Bruins need him in that position out of necessity, so the peaks and valleys are just part of the learning process for a rookie defenseman. The Bruins don’t have anybody they can replace him with on their roster if they wanted to give him a few games to recharge, so they’ll just ride it out. But there’s enough there to know he’s got a bright, bright future as a shutdown guy in Boston.
Zdeno Chara: B-
The Norris Trophy days are gone for Chara, but he’s been good enough as a de facto No. 1 defenseman at 39 years old. Ideally he’d be playing less than his 23:15 of ice time per game and he was definitely better when Carlo was playing at a higher level to start the season, but he’s still the best that the Bruins have. The hope is that Chara will bounce back better and stronger now that the schedule is going to calm down in the final 30 games of the season. But he’s not getting faster or more explosive at this point in his career and that situation is only going to worsen.
Riley Nash: D
Riley Nash gives an honest effort every night and he seems like a nice enough guy off the ice, but he’s played third line minutes for most of the season and projects to five goals, 14 points and a minus-5 rating. That’s the kind of player that could easily be replaced with someone better and more productive. He’s pretty much been just another guy in his first year in Boston, and not even a very good “just another guy” at that.
Colin Miller: B-
Miller has always had the puck-moving D-man tools, and he’s starting to show that it’s coming all together for him. He’s played the best NHL hockey of his career over the last couple of months, and showed some fire dropping the gloves vs. the Penguins ahead of the All-Star break. He could really do himself some good with a strong final 30 games to the season, but it’s clear that he’s really starting to show that he gets it.
Matt Beleskey: C-
Beleskey got off to a slow start on a third line that never really came together, and then he hurt his knee knocking him out for two months. He’s just starting to come back now, but needs a strong finish to avoid making this a really disappointing second season for the hardnosed left winger. The Bruins really need the fire that he can bring to the table during their 30-game stretch run, so he needs to be a much better player in the second half.
John-Michael Liles: C
Liles has been average for the Bruins with a concussion mixed in that knocked him out for a long stretch of time. The five assists and zero plus-minus rating in 29 games aren’t great, but they’re not horrible either. In an ideal world he’d probably be an extra defenseman for the Bruins, and that may be his fate over the final 30 games if everybody else stays healthy and productive. It would be good to see Liles make a few more offensive plays when he is in the lineup.
Kevan Miller: B
Miller has mostly been a bottom-pairing defenseman this season for the Bruins, and that is his most effective role. He’s been a physical player on most nights, and he hasn’t forced the offense to the point of making costly mistakes. It’s probably not a coincidence that the four game losing streak occurred when Miller was injured and out of the lineup, as he’s one of the no-nonsense guys in the Bruins dressing room that keeps up the competitive factor when he’s playing.
Jimmy Hayes: F
Hayes has shown signs of life in his latest stint as a fourth line winger after a long stint as a healthy scratch, so he’s got that going for him. But the power forward has two goals and three points in 38 games, and went through a slump where he basically went an entire half-season without scoring a single point. The effort on the ice is inconsistent at best, and he almost never plays to his size and strength out on the ice. The trade swapping Hayes-for-Smith looks bad in hindsight, but signing him to a multi-year contract extension before he’d ever played a game in a Bruins uniform was a poor, poor decision.
Adam McQuaid: C
McQuaid is what he is at this point. He’s a tough-as-nails competitior with limited offensive upside and he’s a guy that can get exposed pretty quickly against good competition as a top-4 defenseman. He’s also a guy that will stand up for his teammates, always gives an honest effort and has the respect of all of his teammates. Unfortunately the Bruins are never going to fully realize their potential in today’s NHL if they feature both McQuaid and Kevan Miller in their top-6 on a regular basis. You can have one of those guys, but not both.
Tuukka Rask: B
Rask was awesome for the first couple of months, but the performance has declined as the defense has regressed and the playing time responsibilities have weighed him down. The 2.15 goals against average and .918 save percentage are in line with what he did last season, and the last few weeks really haven’t been great for him. It could be a tough final 30-game stretch for Rask if the Bruins can’t straighten out their backup situation.
Anton Khudobin: F
The Bruins have one win from their backup goalies this season, and much of that comes down to Khudobin not doing his job. The B’s signed him to a two-year NHL deal to secure the backup situation behind Rask, and it’s been nothing but a source of consternation this season. If the Bruins even got a couple of wins from Khudobin this season they would be in a much better position for the playoffs. He’s back up with the B’s to start the final 30-game stretch and he needs to be much better, but one also has to wonder what the Bruins were expecting when he spent most of last season in the AHL.