Boston Bruins Mid-Season Report
The Bruins started off the year on a tear by ripping up the league for the first nineteen games until they went into hibernation. They picked up only a few wins in their next twenty games and looked lacking of heart and desire as they appeared passionless on the ice. The Bruins have started to emerge from their hibernation as they have managed to pick up some wins in their last few games.
After two wins against the Red Wings and the Penguins, the Bruins currently sit 6th in the Eastern Conference with 48 points. There is speculation in Boston that GM Mike O’Connell could be in trouble with ownership if his team continues to struggle and doesn’t pull out of the nosedive they are in.
Patrice Bergeron, the youngest player in the NHL, has emerged as a legitimate Calder candidate after coming out of training camp a relative unknown and becoming an offensive weapon for the B’s. Instead of hitting the rookie wall, it appears that Bergeron is heating up at the halfway point in the season. Rookie goaltender Andrew Raycroft will be giving him heavy competition for the Calder as he has snatched the starting job from Felix Potvin and is giving the Bruins solid goaltending with .925 SV%, 2.04 GAA, 2 SO, and a record of 11-10-6. Although young blueliner Jeff Jillson has struggled at times, he has finally established himself as a full-time NHL player while giving the Bruins another option on the powerplay. Goaltending prospect Hannu Toivonen has established himself as an elite prospect because of his excellent play in Providence and at the WJHC. The Bruins have a stellar road record of 11-5-3-3.
After a fast start, the Bruins’ main offensive players have fallen into deep slumps. Thornton, Murray, Rolston, and Samsonov all are at significantly lower scoring paces than last year. The blueline has produced almost no offence and is clearly hurt by the losses of Berard and Girard. Nick Boynton was expected to lead the Bruins defence but his play has been marred by inconsistency. Martin Lapointe has failed to produce at the rate the Bruins expect from him and P.J. Axelsson is coming down to earth after a career year.
The Bruins home record of 5-6-7-1 is only better than the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Coach Mike Sullivan N/R
-It is unfair to rate Sullivan at this point in the season. If he turns the team around from the slump they are in and the Bruins finish with 93+ points, he will get a B+ rating. This rating could go as high as an A if the B’s finish with 97+ points. If Sullivan can’t turn the team around, he will get a D+ rating. He is a rookie coach and should have a little extra breathing room since O’Connell is on the hot seat, not him.
Joe Thornton B
-Jumbo Joe has not performed up to the lofty expectations formed from his performance last year. He is still picking up a similar amount of assists but is having lots of trouble putting the puck in the net. It has been rumoured that he is suffering from a nagging shoulder injury. Despite not meeting expectations, he is still almost at a ppg pace.
Glen Murray C-
-After a 44g 48a year last season, Glen Murray was expected to provide 40 goals and points at a ppg pace. Murray has fallen far short of this mark as he is on pace to only score 24g and 34a. His first-half has been a major disappointment
Mike Knuble B+
-Knuble has played very well at times but has been streaky. He is putting up around the numbers that were expected of him and continues to provide excellent defensive play.
Sergei Samsonov D+
-After losing a season to wrist surgery, Samsonov has failed to get back into his groove. He is on pace to have his worst season as an NHL player and continues to be dogged by injuries, losing 9 games to a sprained MCL. Samsonov is another player on the long list of underachieving Bruins fowards
Brian Rolston B
-Brian Rolston is Brian Rolston. He is a streaky player who has fantastic hot streaks followed by frigid cool streaks. He has more or less played to expectations and is currently in a cold streak. He has continued to be a force on special teams.
Patrice Bergeron A+
-The Bruins received a compensatory 2nd round pick after losing Bill Guerin to free-agency. That pick has turned into 18yr-old Calder candidate Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron has been fantastic for the Bruins giving them much more than they expected from the NHL’s youngest player.
Martin Lapointe B-
-While LaPointe’s offensive production isn’t up to par, he has done everything else well. After coming back from a knee injury, Lapoint has provided a physical presence, leadership, and a defensive conscience. He has also taken Bergeron under his wing, treating him like a younger brother.
P.J. Axelsson C
-Axelsson’s offensive production is far below last season but a certain dropoff was expected. Axelsson, usually a defensive stalwart is actually a minus this season. In addition, he has been dogged by injuries all season.
Travis Green D
-Green has been a disappointment since coming to Boston in the waiver draft(yes I realize he was technically traded for). He is a team worst -6 and has produced almost no offense.
Ivan Huml D
-Huml was expected to compete for a top-six role with the Bruins but has only played in a handful of games. The clock is ticking on him.
Sergie Zinojev (back in Russia) D-
-It was expected that Zinojev would be able to land a job as the Bruins 2nd or 3rd line centre in camp but he failed to even make the team. After bitching about playing in the AHL and threatening to go back to Russia, he got 10 games with the Bruins but failed to produce. He is back in Russia after refusing to play for Providence.
Rob Zamuner N/R
-The Bruins have placed Zamuner on waivers and assigned him to Providence. A combination of injury, poor play, and large contract have been the reason for the Bruins dumping him.
Michal Grosek C
-He has played to expectations as a 4th line player who will be scratched for a few games. He has missed a few games due to shoulder injury
Ted Donato C+
-After starting out in Providence, Donato worked his way back to the Bruins and is now providing veteran leadership on the fourth line.
Sandy McCarthy D
-He was brought in as a fourth-line enforcer but has seemingly forgotten how to enforce. He only has 28 pim and hasn’t contributed much offensively.
Martin Samuelsson N/R
-He is still in the system and has played a couple games as a call-up. He will have to make a stronger push for playing time.
Nick Boynton B-
-Boynton has had periods where he appeared lost and made countless turnovers but he has been decent overall. He is still very young and needs to develop his offensive game and improve his decision making.
Hal ”The Thrill” Gill B+
-Hal Gill always play solid defense but he leaves fans wanting more. A 6’7” giant can surely play a more physical game. Gill leads the defense core with a +7 rating. Gill can’t skate so he occasionally gets burned.
Sean O’Donnell B-
-O’Donnell continues to provide a strong defensive presence but he is taking too many penalties. O’Donnell isn’t the fleetest skater so when he is paired with Gill they can be exploited by defenders.
Jeff Jillson B
-Jillson has finally established himself as a fulltime NHL’er and is one of the few Bruins who don’t embarass themself on the powerplay. Jillson needs to keep playing hard in order to keep his icetime.
Ian Moran B-
-Moran has played his role as a 6th defensman well but has recently suffered an ankle injury and is out of the lineup indefinetly.
Dan McGillis C+
-After a strong playoff run, McGillis hasn’t played particularily well. McGillis needs to step up his play or he will lose playing time to Jillson and Morrisonn.
Shaone Morrisonn B
-Has done an admirable job filling in for Moran. He is still another year or two from being a top-four blueliner. He is developing nicely.
Andrew Raycroft A+
-”Razor” has made himself a legitimate Calder candidate, usurped the starting job from Potvin, and given the Bruins solid goaltending for a change. As I mentioned earlier, he is one of the few bright lights this season. His stock is skyrocketing.
Felix Potvin C-
-Potvin has failed to latch on to the starting job and is quickly becoming Raycroft’s backup. The Cat’s play has been terrible inconsistent and frankly, in today’s NHL, a .895 sv% is horrible.