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.

The Good

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.

The Bad

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 Ugly

The Bruins home record of 5-6-7-1 is only better than the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, and Columbus Blue Jackets.

Ratings

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.

Forwards

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.

The Blueline

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.

Goal

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.


11 Responses to Boston Bruins Mid-Season Report

  1. MantaRay says:

    Good write up.

    The B’s seem to do this every season: start hot and cool off.

    Raycroft is looking like a steady goalie and Potvin has dissappointed, yet another team.

    I also expected McGillis to have a great year, especially after his performance in the playoffs last season.

    The problem is this is a one line team that is easy to defend against. Key on Thorton and everyone else dissappears.

  2. chanman says:

    Boston loves to get that super hot start but haven’t been to great in the first half. They always flounder in the second and could be on teh outside looking in if their big names don’t step it up. Good write up!

  3. DaveG says:

    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 attackers.

  4. The_Conductor says:

    I am not a huge Bruins fan and I may get heat for this comment… but Joe Thornton gets a A+.

    Reason: Cause in all honesty without Thornton there not the same team.

    I just think he is like a Mario. (I am not comparing Joe to Mario) but without your leader your team is nothing. If Joe leaves Boston or gets hurt… the team will greatly suffer.

  5. DaveG says:

    The ratings aren’t based on the quality of the player, they are base on where he is below or above expectations.

  6. bruinfan37 says:

    Good job on the write-up. Not much to disagree on. The one thing I would have liked was a predicted finish, and playoff run. 6th place, conference final exit.

    I do however disagree when you said that Thornton is having trouble putting the puck in the net. When I read that, it makes it sound like he gets a lot of chances and just can’t bury it. Its not that. When he shoots, and gets it to the net, he puts it in. He is too worried about making the perfect pass, and getting assist. Someone has to beat into his head to shoot the puck, and drive to the net more often.

  7. Gforce says:

    hey,you should have pointed it out.

    37

    Dave

    great piece ,enjoy the article.

    Samsonov! A “D”…have you watch the games..

    ..Samsonov is a leader on the Team, & as of late Bergeron & Sammie are the only one really doing on the ice..Cause of Note to mention he plays with a great amount of heart and when you know he’s on the ice u know something good can happens(Percently speakin %) At least a C+ or a B-

    Unlike Joe ,

    with the lose of his little buddy Pj stock he seems not to have the Fire he did the past couple years.

    As a Result is that the Team playing with less intensity..That reflects my next point to disagree on.

    Mike Sullivan-a N/R

    The things that really gets me and here’s why.Above Team being able to play with alack of intensity.He should be able to motivate them More .

    Also the Mixing of the lines even in the beging he had said playing time is a ” reward system”which he has kinda of forgot.Murrary slump happen when they replaced him on the big line not to say again BERGERON

    He can Play anywhere, but he is a Natural center and his development is getting slowed down by placing on right wing.Look at last year the STANLEY CUP WINNER the NJ had to do is shut down the one line. Zammuner Has A goal a game for two games & playing like fire and for life gets sent to Providence..Zammuner? i like this guy and just like Sheilds unfar Treatment.. So for a grade

    A “C”or a”C-” only cause there is another half of the season

    Not to Mention the assistants. Norm..

    look at some of the other benches

    Terry O’reall, Larry Robinson,Just for aggruements sake Pat Quinn(Even thou he is a head coach)the only guy that really parlay Bobby Orr..

    Norm Maciver ? Like Who Is he? He’s done what???

  8. DaveG says:

    Thanks for the compliments. The bottom line is that Samsonov’s role on the team is to put up points. Regardless of his leadership ability, he needs to produce. He is supposed to be a ‘money player” who is good for 70 points a season. While his play has improved as of late, he has not given the Bruins what they expected through the first half of the season.

    Sullivan got a N/R because it appeared the Bruins were coming out of their slump but it was till too early to tell. Its not fair to judge Sullivan until the playoffs are done. I am also one of the people who believes that poor play is more the players fault than the coaches fault. I didn’t mention any assistants because to be honest, Its very hard to judge them unless you are a team insider.

  9. Gforce says:

    Samsonov’s role! Out of 34 he has 19 points that averages out to 1.7 PPG(Points per game)as for there are 30 + more game ,i believe sammie will easly pass that 70 point goal IF he stays healthy..

    Really who would you rather have Norm Mcaiver or Larry Robinson???

  10. EmptyNetter says:

    Dude, that’s 1.78GPP (games per point).

    You did the math wrong.

    At .55 PPG, that’s about a point every two games.

  11. EmptyNetter says:

    Solid article, but I have to disagree with you on a few points —

    Take Thornton’s B and switch it with Samsonov’s D+. I’m giving Joe’s B to Sammy.

    As the team’s captain, Joe needs to lead by example. Although Joe is still putting up points, he has been slow to buy into Mike Sullivan’s new system this year. Joe rarely gives any defensive support when the puck is in his own end, seldom plays a physical game, and HE REFUSES TO SHOOT THE PUCK!!! Until Sullivan broke up the “700 lb line” Joe was playing a very predictable game that was easy for any opposing team to anticipate and shut down.

    On the other hand, Samsonov has been the perfect partner for Bergeron — fast, agile, and a great passing partner who opens up the ice and keeps opponents on their heels. One of the smallest Bruins, he’s now checking and helping out defensively. Since he and Bergeron have played on the first line lately, Joe has actually had to skate to keep up and it’s greatly improved Joe’s game.

    Travis Green deserves at least a C. He’s pretty good on the faceoff, and this was a real weak spot for the Bruins last year. He’s physical and carries the puck, though he needs to pass more and more accurately. Also like O’Donnell (and Boynton), he takes some stupid penalties.

    Also, you’re a little harsh in judging The Cat. I think the defense’s play has been “terribly inconsistent” and he is abandoned in too many 2 on 1 situations. Raycroft has been a tough act to follow so far. His past playoff experience may yet redeem him come season’s end when (not if) the B’s clinch a playoff spot. I’d give him a C+

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