Boston Bruins midseason report cards: forwards
Yesterday, the Bruins Daily staff took a look at the goaltenders and defensemen in Part 1 of the midseason report cards. Today, in Part 2, we grade the 12 forwards.
We are officially at the midway point of the 2013 National Hockey League season, and the Boston Bruins are solidifying themselves as one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Many of the Bruins have met or exceeded expectations, but there are some who have performed below their standards.
Today we examine the 12 forwards who don the Black and Gold. How is your favorite player rated?
Milan Lucic: After two goals in his first three games, Milan Lucic has scored just twice his last 20 games and has not scored in his previous nine games. After back-to-back seasons of 25-plus goals, it looked like Lucic was set to catapult himself into the group of top NHL scorers, but after his slow start this season, I think it is safe to say we can put the brakes on that idea.
To go along with his four goals, Lucic has just 10 assists. With Lucic playing on the Bruins top line alongside talented forwards David Krejci and Nathan Horton, 14 points in 23 games is just unacceptable. Starting next season Lucic—barring an unexpected trade or free agent signing—will be the Bruins highest paid forward, kind of crazy when you have guys like Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron on the team.
The Bruins need Lucic to start scoring again like he has the past two seasons or else it may be another first round playoff exit for Lucic and the B’s.- Anthony Travalgia (AT)
Krejci has been the usual Krejci we have grown to know as a Bruin. One of the underrated play-makers in the game, Krejci is quietly off to a good start this season with 20 points in 24 games—six goals—good enough for third on the team in points. Krejci could have more points if he had some help from his line mates thus far.
Krejci is second on the team among forwards in Average Time on Ice with 19:05 per game, just one second behind Patrice Bergeron who leads all Bruins forwards in Average Time on Ice.
No. 46 has taken heat in the past at times for being too inconsistent or “not engaged” but take a look at Krejci’s numbers in his Bruins career and you can easily see that is not the case at all. Krejci’s name always surfaces anytime a trade rumor has Boston bringing in the Iginla’s, Perry’s or Ryan’s of the world, but the Bruins would be smart to hold on to Krejci this season.- (AT)
Nathan Horton: For someone who has had his share of concussions, Nathan Horton seems to be okay this time around (I’m sure Bruins fans are knocking on wood). Sure he only has seven goals and five assists, but it seems like he is slowly returning to form from his amazing run during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs – before suffering his first concussion from the hands of Aaron Rome.
It’s no secret that the Black and Gold’s offense gets an added boost with Horton on the ice. Don’t believe me? Look at last year’s series with the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins will need a healthy Horton if they want to make another run at the Cup. And if that’s the case, Horton will be hearing a few more woo’s from The Hub of Hockey. – Tim Rosenthal (TR)
Brad Marchand: What a pleasant surprise Brad Marchand has been this season. Ok, maybe it isn’t surprising since he has scored at least 20 goals in each of his first two seasons with the Bruins. It looks like he will easily surpass that total this season as the “Little Ball of Hate” leads the Bruins with 12 goals, including four game-winners (good for fourth in the NHL).
Marchand and his line mates (Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron) are playing as great of hockey as any line in the league. The “Nose-Face Killah” just “nose” how to score and he is doing it at a torrid pace halfway through the 2013 season.
Marchand has been a real difference maker for the Black and Gold this season and without him, Claude only knows. – Chris Chirichiello (CC)
Patrice Bergeron: The “Selke Smooth” Bruins forward has been nothing short of exceptional this season. Patrice Bergeron leads the team in points with 22 (6 goals, 16 assists), has notched two game-winners and currently centers the best line on the Black and Gold. Moreover, Bergeron’s consistency in all three zones is certainly noticeable as evident by his plus-18, which is good for fourth in the league.
Bergeron has the league’s third best faceoff percentage (60.9) and earned the NHL’s Second Star of the week (for the week ending March 3) where he notched two goals and five assists in four games. – CC
Tyler Seguin: After dominating Switzerland’s National League A during the lockout to the tune of 25 goals and 15 assists in just 29 games, Tyler Seguin struggled to find the back of the net for the first two months of the NHL season; tallying three goals in his first 17 games. Even though his numbers were far off what most expected this season, it’s hard to put any merit to his early season goal scoring struggles because his line has been one of the most productive tandems in the league.
Seguin is just 21-years-old and is starting to look like the player hockey pundits envisioned he would be on the ice this season. Seguin has dominated the month of March by producing six goals and eight points total in just seven games played. Often hockey fans like to draw comparisons between Seguin and former trade partner Phil Kessel, but that should come to an abrupt stop when viewing the plus\minus rating of each player. Seguin: +16(+46 career), Kessel: -3(-36 career). – Dan St. Pierre (DSP)
Chris Bourque: So much for living up to the family reputation.
After spending many years in the American Hockey League, Chris Bourque could not have asked for a better opportunity to solidify a third line presence with the Black and Gold after an injury to Jordan Caron sidelined him for the start of the season. But the former Boston University forward was inconsistent in his 18 games with the Bruins (one goal, three assists and a minus-6 rating) and did nothing to help his fellow linemates Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley. Even more baffling was the amount of time Bourque got on the power play.
There was plenty of hope that Bourque would break through and stay in Boston, but it just wasn’t meant to be. For now it looks like he’ll be staying in Providence; a place that seems a little more comfortable for him. – TR
Chris Kelly: Coming off a career high 20 goals last season, it was easy to expect Kelly’s goal totals to decrease this season, but no one could have predicted that Kelly would start off as poor as he did in the first half of hockey this season. Kelly has just two goals on the year and it took 14 games for Kelly to get his first. You can blame the play of the entire line as the cause of Kelly’s slow start, but Kelly didn’t do much to get the line going.
Once Jordan Caron got recalled and replaced on the Bruins third line, things got going for Kelly and his linemates as Caron helped Kelly light the lamp for the second time this season, but thanks to a knee injury after a knee-on-knee collision with Chris Neill in a game in Ottawa, Kelly will miss some time. The Bruins have yet to announce the extent of the Kelly injury and how much time the veteran forward will actually miss.-(AT)
Rich Peverley: Remember when Rich Peverley put up 42 points and a plus-20 in 57 games played last year? It’s tough to believe how effective a player Peverley was last season as the unsung seventh forward for the Bruins last season after watching the third line struggle every night this season.
Sure, we keep hearing how bad the third line has played collectively, but who’s to blame? In large part, it was Chris Bourque’s fault, then Chris Kelly’s fault, now Jay Pandolfo’s to blame, but never Peverley. The Hub of Hockey points to the likes of a Jarome Iginla or Danny Briere as the remedy to the third line woes, but how about getting more production in general from a guy who registered nearly a point-per-game totals last season?
In 23 games, Peverley has found the back of the net only three times, assisted on five goals and is a minus-8 on the season. Moreover, over his last 11 games played, Peverley is a minus-4 with a goal and an assist. With a cloud of doubt hanging over Kelly’s injury status, the Bruins will rely on Peverley to center the third unit. For the Bruins to bring in a big name at the deadline, a player like Kelly and/or Peverley is expected to be included in any trade package, making an already blazing spotlight even brighter on No. 49. – DSP
Daniel Paille: Milan Lucic, Rich Peverley, and Chris Kelly. Three Bruins forwards who Paille has scored more goals than. Only getting around 11 minutes of ice time per game, the fourth-line grinder has made the most of his opportunity with five goals on the year. Paille has also chipped in with four assists.
Known for his tremendous penalty killing and physical grind-it-out style of play, Paille scoring has been huge for a Bruins team who has struggled with getting secondary scoring. On a majority of other teams, you would find Paille on a team’s third line, but with the depth at the forward position here in Boston, Paille doesn’t see much time playing with anyone other than his “Merlot Line” line-mates.
Paille is hugely appreciated among the Bruins players and coaches and is that perfect fourth line guy. One of Paille’s five goals this season ACTUALLY came on a breakway, how about that!?-(AT)
Gregory Campbell: The Bruins’ fourth line was once viewed upon as the best trio in the NHL, but I’m not sure that’s the case this season. No one expects the fourth line to dominate the box score on a nightly basis, but bringing a consistent effort every night can go a long way to the overall mindset of the team, especially in a shortened season. It’s not an issue with effort because we all know Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille wear their hearts on their sleeve as much as it has to do with displaying consistencies in the little aspects of the game that makes a fourth unit effective in the league.
Fourth line responsibilities include bringing an energetic, defensive minded, gritty game to help provide rest to your top three lines without being a liability against the opposition’s top units. In an eight-game stretch (from February 12-March 2), Campbell registered only three hits – hardly what you expect from a fourth line forward, especially one who you’re accustomed to playing a physical brand of hockey. The Bruins need more production from Campbell who is also currently on pace to endure his worst season at the faceoff circle having only won 40% of his draws – down 10.7% from 2011-12. – DSP
Shawn Thornton: What more needs to be said about Shawn Thornton that hasn’t already? Sure he finds himself on the Merlot Line and is not a prolific goal-scorer (two goals, one assist in 20 games), but he is there to do his job.
The energy Thornton brings each night is second to none, but his willingness to drop the gloves with almost any enforcer – at any given moment – is what stands out the most to Bruins fans. It seems like Thornton has recovered nicely from his concussion sustained in the fight with Buffalo Sabres goon John Scott from the end of January.
Make no mistake Shawn Thornton has meant a lot to the Bruins both on and off the ice. He is there to play is role, and he’s played it nicely since arriving in The Hub of Hockey during the 2007-08 season. – TR