During the next two days, the Bruins Daily staff will be posting their grades for the 20 Boston Bruins’ through the midway point of the 2013 season. Today, we take a look at the Bruins’ defensemen and goaltenders.
Stay with us tomorrow as we grade the Bruins’ 12 forwards in Part 2 of the mid-season report cards.
Through 23 games in the 2013 season, the Boston Bruins see themselves in second place in the Northeast Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference with 37 points (17-3-3). There has been plenty of excitement in The Hub of Hockey, as many players have contributed to the hot start. On the other hand, there are some who have not lived up to expectations, either.
Today we look at the six defensemen and two goaltenders. How is your favorite player rated? Find out after the jump.
Tuukka Rask: It’s safe to say that Tuukka Rask is solidifying his spot as the Bruins’ No. 1 goaltender. The 26-year old Finnish netminder has been stellar all season compiling a 13-2-3 record to go along with his .927 save percentage and 1.96 goals against average. There are times where he’s let up a soft goal – as all goalies do – but for the most part, Tuukka has really improved his movement from one post to the next and is putting himself in good position to make the stops.
Perhaps the biggest move by Peter Chiarelli during the summer was only signing Rask – who has had his share of injuries – to a one-year deal. After the first half of the season, its safe to say that Tuukka deserves a long-term extension (and a raise). – Tim Rosenthal (TR)
Anton Khudobin: With Tuukka Rask needing a rest time and again, Anton Khudobin has been solid when called upon. In five starts, Khudobin is 4-1 with a .910 save percentage. While his goals against average is pedestrian at 2.42, he has stepped in nicely for the Black and Gold while trying to keep Rask fresh.
Sure, there have been times where Khudobin has looked a bit slow or out of sorts, but what back-up goalie wouldn’t playing one or two times a week? He is doing what is asked from his team-keeping them in the game and not trying to be a superstar. – Chris Chirichiello (CC)
Zdeno Chara: Once again, Zdeno Chara is proving to be a Norris Trophy candidate. The 6-foot-9 defenseman continues to be the team leader in ice time, logging over 22 minutes a night. Offensively, Chara continues to contribute with four goals and six assists on the season to go along with his plus-12 rating.
Chara’s presence on the ice is like no other player in the league. His physicality, his smarts and his reach are three attributes that make him a very special player. He got off to a slow start, but he is back on track and playing quality hockey for the Black and Gold. If you think he is impressive now, wait until the playoffs where Chara does not give an inch and gives up his body every night while shutting down the Alexander Ovechkin’s and Sidney Crosby’s of the world. – CC
Johnny Boychuk: Johnny Boychuk is a tough player to grade because if one looks at his statistics they will say “Oh, he is horrible,” but that’s not the case to an extent. Although he has only one goal and two assists on the year, Boychuk is a big body that is not afraid to throw his body around – sometimes a bit too much, but that’s another story for later. The Bruins defensemen have been suspect lately and Boychuk, who sports a plus-4, is no exception and his fundamentals must improve. As Bruins fans may figure, he is an average defenseman “doing his job” as the great Patriots coach Bill Belichick preaches. – CC
Dougie Hamilton: It’s been a solid start to Dougie Hamilton’s rookie campaign. In 23 games the 19-year old Hamilton has three goals and nine assists, good enough to tie him for seventh in rookie scoring. Hamilton has the most points among rookie defensemen. From a defensive standpoint, Hamilton – who is a minus-3 on the year – has struggled a bit, but has shown glimpses of good things to come.
As expected, Hamilton has seen plenty of time on the power play. He has four PP points where he has scored two of his three goals on the man advantage.
Hamilton’s vision is something that may fly under the radar, but the Toronto, Ontario native has been great at finding the open man which we have seen create some key Bruins goals. It should come to no surprise that as a 19-year old playing in the NHL, Hamilton has hit some bumps in the road, but overall Hamilton is exactly as advertised and is no doubt the future of the Bruins blue-line. – Anthony Travalgia (AT)
Dennis Seidenberg: In Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins arguably possess the best shutdown defenseman in the NHL, in their overall skill and AAV (annual average value) based off their contract. Once again, the “German Hammer” is playing a physical brand of hockey (56 hits) while logging a little over 23 minutes a game. This season, Seidenberg finds himself in a multi-faceted role, playing teacher to rookie Dougie Hamilton. By pairing Seidenberg with Hamilton, the Bruins have the ability to let the creative genius of Dougie take over in the offensive zone at times without worrying about leaving his defensive partner stranded on a two-on-ones.
Last season, Seids registered five goals, 18 assists and a plus-15 in nearly 24 minutes a game. In 21 games this season, the 31-year-old has yet to find the back of the net, but has six assists and hovers just outside of the top-15 in the NHL in blocked shots (54) to go along with a plus-6 rating.
With an annual cap hit of 3.25 million that expires after next season, Seidenberg continues to be vastly undervalued. – Dan St. Pierre (DSP)
Andrew Ference: Unlike Tuukka Rask, Andrew Ference is not doing himself any favors for a new contract with the Black and Gold. The usually reliable Ference – aka Captain Planet – has turned the puck over regularly in his own end and in a few instances has helped the other team on the scoresheet. It’s still pretty astonishing to see Ference sport a plus-5 rating (along with his five assists), but the good news is he hasn’t played all that bad in the last two games as he ended up on the right side of the plus/minus sheet.
There’s still plenty of time left, but Ference is going to need to step up if he wants that new contract. And certainly the Black and Gold could use some improvement from him in the second half. – TR
Adam McQuaid: Prior to the start of this season, Adam McQuaid trained hard to overcome a series of injuries that plagued him at the end of his 2011-12 season. Often, the sixth defenseman goes unnoticed on a team, no matter the level of play, but that shouldn’t be the case with Joe Dirt’s brother, Adam. It’s easy to understand the importance of McQuaid to the Bruins’ defensive corps, just by watching last season’s Game 7 defeat to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals which saw Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau log a combined 22:57 of ice time.
This season, McQuaid has brought the same familiar stay-at-home presence that played a large part during the Bruins’ Cup run in 2011. McQuaid is a plus-3 on the season, including one goal, three assists and four fighting majors. Boston leads the NHL in goals allowed per game and McQuaid’s a major reason why, or Aaron Johnson not playing is a major reason why. – DSP