Vacation. Relaxation. Warm weather. Spending time with family. Unfortunately for the Boston Bruins, these wonderful conjectures that encompass the summer season have arrived in the Hub far earlier than many of us expected.
Now a week and a half removed from Boston’s game seven loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals at TD Garden last Wednesday, it seems we’ve reached the perfect time to begin my four-part series of Bruins’ postseason report cards. The order will look like this:
Part I –> Top Six Forwards
Part II –> Bottom Six Forwards
Part III –> Defense Group
Part IV –> Extra Skaters/Call-Ups
Without further ado, I present to you part one, detailing and grading the 2011-’12 seasons of each of the Bruins’ top six forwards.
#17 Milan Lucic
Contract Status: $4.083 MIL Cap Hit/ Restricted Free Agent On July 1, 2013
Regular Season Stats: 81 GP, 26 Goals, 35 Assists, 61 Points, +7 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 0 Goals, 3 Assists, 3 Points, +2 Rating
– For the second straight season, Boston’s resident power forward posted a solid sixty-point campaign whilst easily exceeding the century mark (135) in the PIMs category. Lucic’s 2011-’12 regular season was very much on par with what we’ve come to expect from number 17 on a year-in/year-out basis. However, also for the second straight season, his postseason performance left a lot to be desired. In an NHL playoff series, its awfully tough for any team to come out victorious without even a single goal from their top-line left wing. It may all shake down to the fact that even at his best, Lucic isn’t a true first line player in this league. That is by no means a knock on the 6’4″ bruiser but merely a recognition that his playing style is best suited for a second line role, where he isn’t expected to produce 70-point campaigns.
Final Grade: B-
#18 Nathan Horton
Contract Status: $4.000 MIL Cap Hit/ Unrestricted Free Agent On July 1, 2013
Regular Season Stats: 46 GP, 17 Goals, 15 Assists, 32 Points, EVEN Rating
Playoff Stats: Missed Postseason Due To Post-Concussion Syndrome
– Without doubt, Nathan Horton is the toughest to assign a grade of any of the Bruins’ top six forwards simply due to his absence from the lineup for nearly the entire second half of the season. Number eighteen was able to recover from a poor start to the 2011-’12 campaign (five points in twelve games) by picking up 15 goals over the course of the next 34 games he participated in before suffering a concussion in Philadelphia on January 22. It’s tough to gauge where the Bruins will go from here in regards to their 2011 playoff hero. In the same way he declared that Horton would be back before the season ended this year (at the trade deadline), general manager Peter Chiarelli proclaimed last week that he expected the Welland, Ontario native to be ready to go by the start of the 2012-’13 season. However, as anyone with a working knowledge of concussions will most certainly tell you, it is near impossible to predict the return to normalcy for anyone suffering from post-concussion syndrome with complete accuracy.
Final Grade: C+
#19 Tyler Seguin
Contract Status: $3.550 MIL Cap Hit/ Restricted Free Agent On July 1, 2013
Regular Season Stats: 81 GP, 29 Goals, 38 Assists, 67 Points, +34 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 2 Goals, 1 Assist, 3 Points, +3 Rating
– Boston’s sophomore phenom came out with guns blazing in 2011-’12, leading hockey pundits everywhere to believe that number nineteen had reached the level of the player he’d drawn so many comparisons to during his final season of junior hockey in Plymouth, Michigan: Steven Stamkos. Picking up twenty-four points (12G/12A) over the first two months of the season (23 games), it looked like the Brampton, Ontario native had already reached superstardom. However, things slowed down for Seguin as the season went along and he ran into a few bumps in the road, including the infamous Winnipeg alarm clock situation that made headlines in Boston last December. Over the course of the entire campaign, Seguin emerged as a consistent force on the Boston front line, often flaunting the amazing skill and speed that made him the second overall selection in the 2010 Entry Draft. As the dawn of his third season in the NHL approaches with training camp this coming September, it’s clear that the 20-year-old Seguin is well on his way to becoming a true superstar in this league.
Final Grade: A-
#37 Patrice Bergeron
Contract Status: $5.000 MIL Cap Hit/ Unrestricted Free Agent On July 1, 2014
Regular Season Stats: 81 GP, 22 Goals, 42 Assists, 64 Points, +36 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 0 Goals, 2 Assists, 2 Points, EVEN Rating
– Twenty goals, sixty points, a league-best plus-36 rating, a 59% success rate in the faceoff dot and a Selke nomination. Sounds like a pretty phenomenal season, right? It would be for a number of players in the NHL. Yet, all of it was simply business as usual for Boston’s incumbent alternate captain who enjoyed the most consistent season of any forward in the Bruins’ top six forward group. The Quebec-native once again proved himself invaluable to the B’s in 2011-’12, leading the team in both assists and plus/minus while facing the task of shutting down an opponent’s top line on a nightly basis. It’s impossible not to feel good for the oft-underrated Bergeron who is finally receiving the recognition that he’s deserved for many years with his first career Selke nomination. After playing through a debilitating oblique injury and posting only two points in seven games during the Bruins’ opening round defeat at the hands of the Capitals, Bergeron made no excuses, taking full responsibility for his uncharacteristic lack of production. Just another likeable trait that makes the 26-year-old pivot one of the classiest players in the game today.
Final Grade: A
#46 David Krejci
Contract Status: $5.250 MIL Cap Hit/ Unrestricted Free Agent On July 1, 2015
Regular Season Stats: 79 GP, 23 Goals, 39 Assists, 63 Points, -5 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Points, EVEN Rating
– While David Krejci’s sixty-two point season in 2011-’12 was nothing to balk at, it sure made me look awfully silly after predicting the Czech-born centerman to surpass the 80-point mark in one of my many pre-season blog entries. This year’s campaign can all be boiled down to one word for No. 46: Inconsistent. During the months of December and March, Krejci looked like the top line pivot that Peter Chiarelli hoped he would eventually become. However, in October, February and April, he was nothing but a passenger, collecting only three goals and three assists in 24 games. After competing for the Conn Smythe – eventually won by Tim Thomas — in 2011, Krejci’s playoff performance fell off a steep cliff in 2012. Following up a 12-11-23 line during last year’s run to the Stanley Cup with a pedestrian 1-2-3 output during this season’s playoffs, questions about Krejci’s reputation as a clutch player have began to come to the surface. Don’t get me wrong, Krejci is a phenomenally skilled player — one that any team would be lucky to have on their roster — but much like Lucic, seems to have reached his ceiling (20G/50-65 Points) when it comes to offensive production.
Final Grade: C
#63 Brad Marchand
Contract Status: $2.500 MIL Cap Hit/ Restricted Free Agent On July 1, 2013
Regular Season Stats: 76 GP, 28 Goals, 27 Assists, 55 Points, +31 Rating
Playoff Stats: 7 GP, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Points, -1 Rating
– Boston’s favorite agitator did nothing but improve in 2011-’12 after a breakout rookie season last year. Falling just two tallies short of the 30-goal mark, Marchand reached fifty points for the first time in his young career whilst taking on an expanded role with both special teams units. Admittedly, his two-point effort this postseason was nothing to write home about, the Halifax-native’s overall performance this season has cemented his place in the Boston lineup – alongside Patrice Bergeron – for many years to come, as a sturdy two-way forward that head coach Claude Julien can rely on in any situation.
Final Grade: B+
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.