As the 2011-12 National Hockey League regular season approaches its last weekend and 16 lucky teams began to embark on a journey that they all hope leads them to Lord Stanley’s Cup, now is a good time to sit back and look at what went down over the past six months.
The Bruins season in a nutshell was an eventful one. After the Bruins kicked off the opening month with a 3-7 October, the Bruins kicked it into gear during November and December with an impressive 21-3-1 run. January, February and most of March saw the Bruins flirt with .500 hockey before finally finding their game again in the past few weeks.
What jumps out to me about the 2011-12 Boston Bruins was the amount of career years Bruins skaters had this season in different offensive categories. Seven—possibly eight depending on what Peverley does in the final two games— different Bruins hit a career high in goals, assists, or points; some went as far as to hitting all three. Let’s take a look at those individuals, starting with my personal favorite.
On March 6, against the Maple Leafs Kelly scored in what was a 5-4 Bruins win, the goal was good enough for his 16th of the year which at the time was a career high. Kelly would go on to add four more goals to hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. Kelly also has hit a career high with 39 points, beating his previous high of 38 in the 2006-07 season as a Ottawa Senator. No 23 is expected to play in the Bruins final two games giving the Toronto Ontario, Canada native a chance to add to his career year.
Pouliot was signed by the Bruins as a free agent this past offseason giving the Bruins a cheap replacement for Michael Ryder. After a slow start to the season Pouliot got hot for a few weeks. Another slump led to some press box sightings for No. 67, but since being placed on a line with Kelly, and veteran forward Brian Rolston, Pouliot has been one of the better Bruins of late. Pouliot’s 15 goals tie him for his career high in goals. He previously lit the lamp 15 times during the 2009-10 season when he played for the Montreal Canadiens. To go along with his 15 goals, Pouliot has added 16 assists giving him 31 points on the year which beats his previous high of 30 points that he reached last year in Montreal. With a career year in the books, and a restricted free agent next season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see No. 67 back in black and gold next season.
A year after leading his club to its first Stanley Cup title in 39 years, Captain Zdeno Chara has chipped in with one of his best offensive seasons of his career. After back-to-back 44 point seasons, the 6-foot-9 monster has set a career high with 52 points, two more than his previous high of 50 in the 2008-09 season. The 40 assists that Big Z has racked up this season is also a career high beating his previous mark of 37 from two seasons ago. Look for Z to continue his shut down defense, and continue to chip in on the score sheet as the Bruins look to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.
Although he hasn’t broken any career highs yet, it’s pretty obvious that Rich Peverley would of broke his career high of 33 assists had he not gone down with an injury. No. 49 missed 25 games due to a leg injury. Peverley has 30 helpers on the season and I think it’s safe to say that he would have had at least four assists in those 25 games to break his previous high of 30. Peverley still could break this mark as the Bruins do have two games left in the season, but it’s difficult to see Peverley picking up four helpers in those two contests.
Often knocked for his lack of fire in the regular season, David Krejci often showed signs of the guy we saw last season all throughout the playoffs. No. 46 scored twice in last Saturday’s win over the New York Islanders helping him break his previous high in goals of 22. Krejci sits at 23 goals with two games to play. The career high in goals has helped the fifth year center come within one point of his career high in points. If the Bruins top center plays in the remaining two games look for Krejci to tie, or even break his career high point totals.
After a career high 30 goal season a year ago, Milan Lucic has taken a step back in the goal department, but as taken a step forward when it comes to assists. A key reason for the career high in goals for Krejci has been the playmaking ability that Milan Lucic has found. The 228-pound power forward has set a career high in assists with 35 breaking his previous high of 32 from a season ago. With two games left, Lucic is two points back of his career high in points, another high set a season ago.
After a rookie season that no one saw coming, Brad Marchand did a heck of a job building off of the success he found a year ago. The pesky forward set career highs all across the board with 27 goals, 27 assists, and 54 points. No. 63’s 27 goals ties him with fellow sophomore Tyler Seguin for the team lead in goals. If Marchand wasn’t suspended for five games due to a clip on Canucks defensemen Sami Salo, it’s safe to say Marchand would have had a great chance to hit the 30-goal mark in only his second season.
Speaking of Tyler Seguin, the 20-year-old sniper has also set career highs across the board. The number two overall pick by the B’s in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft showed the world why he indeed was selected where he was. After a mediocre 11-11-22 campaign last season, No. 19 has responded with 27 goals, 38 assists, and 65 points. Seguin has shown incredible improvement from last year, not only offensively, but in his own end as well. The Bruins 2011-12 Seventh Player Award winner certainly has a bright future ahead of him in the NHL.