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Bruins report card: Forwards

Posted By DJ Bean On June 10, 2014 @ 4:15 pm In General | No Comments

Brad Marchand's streaky season hurt the Bruins. (AP Photo) [1]

Brad Marchand [2]‘s streaky season hurt the Bruins. (AP)

As the Stanley Cup [3] finals take place, the fact that the Bruins didn’t even reach the Eastern Conference finals after winning the Presidents’€™ Trophy further accentuates the failure that was their 2013-14 season. Here are the individual grades:

FORWARDS

Patrice Bergeron [4]: A
Regular season: 80 GP, 30 G, 32 A, 62 PTS, plus-38
Postseason: 12 GP, 3 G, 6 A, 9 PTS, plus-1

Bergeron had the type of season that led Twitter to be insufferable over his candidacy for a video game cover, so that’€™s a good thing, I guess. This was Bergeron’€™s second career 30-goal season, and the fact that he scored 30 goals given that he never, ever cheats offensively, was pretty insane. He likely would have had more points than his 62 points had his linemates been more consistent early on.

Bergeron had nine points (three goals, six assists) over the first eight games of the playoffs, but he failed to register a point in the last four games against the Canadiens.

Jarome Iginla: A-
Regular season: 78 GP, 30 G, 31 A, 61 PTS, plus-34
Postseason: 12 GP, 5 G, 2 A, 7 PTS, even rating
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT

He hit 30 goals in the regular season, and while that thrilled Bruins fans, that’€™s what they should have expected from him. It took him a bit to start scoring regularly, but once he hit his stride, the Bruins’€™ first line had perhaps its most consistent regular season since David Krejci [5] became the team’€™s No. 1 center. The Bruins will want to bring him back, but there’€™s no telling whether Iginla is willing to go year-to-year given that it’€™s the only way the Bruins can capitalize cap-wise on his status as a player over 35 years old.

Carl Soderberg: A-
Regular season: 73 GP, 16 G, 32 A, 48 P, plus-4
Postseason: 12 GP, 1 G, 5 A, 6 PTS, plus-4

It’€™s probably too early take positives from the season and apply them going forward, but Soderberg showed he can be one of the league’€™s better third-liners since he was moved to center. Considering Bergeron and David Krejci [5] aren’t going anywhere, that’s where Soderberg will remain. He has one year left on his deal with a $1.083 million cap hit. If the 28-year-old takes another step forward in his second full NHL [6] season, he’ll be due a sizable raise.

Reilly Smith: A-
Regular season: 82 GP, 20 G, 31 A, 51 PTS, plus-28
Postseason: 12 GP, 4 G, 1 A, 5 PTS, plus-5
RESTRICTED FREE AGENT

Don’€™t confuse his midseason slump with a complete collapse; Smith was one of the Bruins’€™ best players in the postseason. With even a little consistency down the stretch in the regular season, this would be an A+.

The Bruins coveted Smith when it came time to talk trade with the Stars, and they planned on him being a steady third-liner for them this season, but he claimed the second-line right wing job and raced out to a team-leading 18 goals in his first 52 games. Of course, scoring just two goals over the final 30 games wasn’t exactly top-six material. How much of that can be attributed to his midseason illness that caused him to lose weight is unknown, but with more consistency Smith can expect to push for 30 goals going forward.

Milan Lucic [7]: B-
Regular season: 80 GP, 24 G, 35 A, 59 PTS, plus-30
Postseason: 12 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 PTS, plus-3

Lucic hit a goal-scoring rut in the middle of the season and he hit some of his opponents in the you-know-whats late in the season. That scoring slump saw Lucic score one goal over an 18-game stretch from Dec. 5 to Jan. 14, and without such a stretch Lucic could have pushed for 30 goals.

Daniel Paille [8]: B-/C+
Regular season: 72 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 PTS, plus-9
Postseason: 7 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PT, minus-1

He had three concussions this season, but he still played in 72 regular-season games. Paille’s the type of player who could figure to stick around if the Bruins decide to revamp their fourth line, as he has the speed that’€™s allowed the B’s to move him up in the lineup at points in addition to his penalty-killing duties.

Gregory Campbell [9]: C
Regular season: 82 GP, 8 G, 13 S, 21 PTS, plus-1
Postseason: 12 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, even rating

The Bruins’ bottom-six –€“ particularly their fourth line — is supposed to be better than that of other teams, and it was a bad year for the Merlot Line. Campbell was a minus-3 in the Montreal series, with his line on the ice for the disastrous shift against Montreal’s fourth line in Game 7 that resulted in Dale Weise‘s first-period goal. The positive is that Campbell played all 82 games and 12 postseason games coming off a broken leg that ended last season in the Eastern Conference finals for him. 

Chris Kelly [10]: C
Regular season: 57 GP, 9 G, 9 A, 18 PTS, plus-2
Postseason: DNP

It was a supremely frustrating season for Kelly, who missed time with a broken fibula, came back and found success as Soderberg’s left wing, and then suffered a herniated disc in his lower back that cost him the postseason. He’€™s signed on for two more years with a $3 million cap hit, but don’€™t think his lack of goals this season means he’€™s no longer worth the cash as one of the team’€™s primary leaders and an integral part of the team’€™s penalty kill.

David Krejci [5]: C
Regular season: 80 GP, 19 G, 50 A, 69 PTS, plus-39
Postseason: 12 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 PTS, minus-3

Krejci gets the low mark despite posting his second-highest regular-season point total. Why? Because when people think of David Krejci [5], they think of the playoffs, and Krejci had established himself as one of the best postseason players in the league before disappearing in the playoffs this year.

Loui Eriksson: C
Regular season: 61 GP, 10 G, 27 A, 37 PTS, plus-14
Postseason: 12 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 PTS, plus-1

On the one hand, Eriksson spent much of the season either dealing with a concussion or adjusting to new linemates, and he wasn’t terribly effective when all that was going on. On the other hand, part of the reason Soderberg was so good down the stretch was because he had Eriksson as his right wing. Ten goals isn’t going to cut it in future seasons, but Eriksson was hardly a bust.

Jordan Caron: C-
Regular season: 35 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 PTS, minus-8
Postseason: 7 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 PT, even rating
RESTRICTED FREE AGENT

Put where he was drafted aside for one second and consider that Caron was supposed to be the team’€™s 13th forward this season, and that’€™s what he was. When he was in the lineup, he didn’t make mistakes for the most part, though he did take a few penalties down the stretch. The idea that he was a disaster every time he took the ice is absurd. The truth is that he was safer during the regular season than most 13th forwards. He didn’t bring anything offensively, but he was a smart player in his own zone. Yes, he was replaced by Justin Florek and Matt Fraser at points in the postseason, but he also scored a pretty big goal in Game 3 of the first round.

All that said, it might be mutually beneficial for Caron to depart during free agency. The Bruins have plenty of bottom-six options with Florek and Fraser pushing for jobs, while Caron could go the route of guys like Paille and Benoit Pouliot as a firs-round pick who didn’t really find a home until after he left the organization that drafted him.

Brad Marchand [2]: D+
Regular season: 82 GP, 25 G, 28 A, 53 PTS, plus-36
Postseason: 12 GP, 0 G, 5 A, 5 PTS, plus-4

This year, Da Brat was da streakiest player this side of the Mississippi, and his season — in which he played 82 games and the entire postseason without injury or suspension — can be broken up into three parts. A good preseason candidate to lead the team in goals, Marchand scored just four goals in the first 31 games of the season before taking off for 17 goals over the next 31. Then he fizzled, scoring four goals over the final 20 games and entire postseason — in which he went without a goal –€“ combined.

The reason this grade is so low despite him putting up 25 goals in the regular season is because Marchand is a better player than that. The stuff about him missing Tyler Seguin [11] is nonsense; with the strides Marchand has made in his career, he should have been expected to produce big this season.

Shawn Thornton [12]: D
Regular season: 64 GP, 5 G, 3 A, 8 PTS, plus-3
Postseason: 12 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PT, minus-2
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT

Thornton’€™s play wasn’t as bad as a ‘€œD’€ would suggest. His play would earn a ‘€œC’€ and the fact that he missed 15 games due to suspension drops him down a full letter grade. Still, he’€™s worth re-signing for the Bruins if they have the money. Yes, fourth lines are becoming faster with more skill, but keep in mind that the Bruins didn’t lose because their style didn’t work; they lost because they underperformed. Thornton’€™s a good dressing room guy who will cost less than a million bucks.

Incomplete: Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, Justin Florek, Nick Johnson [13], Matt Lindblad, Craig Cunningham, Alexander Khokhlachev


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URL to article: http://bigbadblog.weei.com/sports/boston/hockey/bruins/2014/06/10/bruins-report-card-forwards/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://bigbadblog.weei.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/MarchPile.jpg

[2] Brad Marchand: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/brad-marchand.htm

[3] Stanley Cup: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/stanley-cup.htm

[4] Patrice Bergeron: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/patrice-bergeron.htm

[5] David Krejci: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/david-krejci.htm

[6] NHL: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/nhl.htm

[7] Milan Lucic: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/milan-lucic.htm

[8] Daniel Paille: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/daniel-paille.htm

[9] Gregory Campbell: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/gregory-campbell.htm

[10] Chris Kelly: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/chris-kelly.htm

[11] Tyler Seguin: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/tyler-seguin.htm

[12] Shawn Thornton: http://audio.weei.com/hockey/shawn-thornton.htm

[13] Nick Johnson: http://audio.weei.com/baseball/nick-johnson.htm

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