By: Lucas Pearson | Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_
The Boston Bruins have been one of the best teams in the NHL to begin the season. They’ve gotten contributions from up and down their lineup and have seen a plethora of players take the next step in their NHL careers. Now that the season is over a quarter of the way through, it seems like a good opportunity to dive into how each and every forward on the Bs have played so far. FYI, defense and goalies will be coming shortly.
Patrice Bergeron – A+
The man just seems to get better with age. At the ripe old age of 34, the four-time Selke winner is having yet another great season. With eight goals, 16 assists and his great defensive day in and day out, the center is well on his way to be a Selke finalist once again. After a minor injury scare, Bergeron didn’t miss a beat and put up five assists in two games after the injury which is great news for the Bruins.
Brad Marchand – A+
When you’re on pace for a 139 point season, how can you not receive an A+ grade? After his season ended on a very sour note with that mental lapse in Game 7, everyone’s favorite rat has come back and looks better than ever. I find myself mesmerized when he has the puck, his ability to slip through defenders is incredible. He’s able to use that to generate offense and it’s a big reason why he’s such an effective penalty killer.
David Pastrnak – A+
The league leader in goals is doing it all this year. With 20 goals already, he’s primed to usurp his career-high in goals (38) this season. It’s crazy to think that after a 38 goal, 81 point campaign someone can still improve but Pastrnak really does look like an improved player. He’s cut down on some turnovers, seems to miss the net less and is clearly developed into one of the league’s top goal scorers. His one-timer has gotten to Alex Ovechkin level and it’s really something special to watch.
David Krejci – B+
Yet again, David Krejci is quietly putting together another great season. Despite going through different winger after winger after winger, which I feel like we say every single year, the Czech native has managed to put up four goals, 11 assists to go along with a +15 rating in 17 games. We saw some vintage Krejci in the final minutes of last night’s game against the Wild and I can smell yet another 70 point year if we get a healthy Krejci (knock on wood).
Jake Debrusk – B-
After a very lackluster start to the season where he put up just one assist in seven games, Mr. Celly is beginning to pick things up as of late. In his past 11 games, the 23-year-old has four goals with three assists and whatever rust he had to begin the season is clearly gone. If the duo of Debrusk and Krejci can find some consistency to their right, there’s no reason to think Debrusk’s play will not continue to improve.
Brett Ritchie – C
Don Sweeney has a very good track record with plucking random depth from other teams and turning them into successful players. While he hasn’t been a game-changing player, Brett Ritchie been able to play from line two through line four and has thrown in some offense and physical play. After scoring on his first shot in his first game, the former Star is already just two points shy of his total of six from last year.
Charlie Coyle – B
Charlie Coyle has been everything the Bruins wanted when they traded for him at last year’s trade deadline. He’s provided the Bs with the ability to roll four centers they can trust. He has everything you need in a third-line center: size, speed, strong two-way ability, good vision and an underrated shot (that he needs to use a whole lot more). He’s been able to get some good chemistry going with Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork so as the season goes on, I’d only expect their chemistry to grow.
Danton Heinen – B+
The amount of hate Danton Heinen gets is incredible. Day in and day out, he is one of the Bruins’ best forecheckers and is great at simply diging pucks out of the corner to create some offense. He was recently rewarded for his puck-retrieving ability by getting the nod over Jake Debrusk on the top powerplay and it’s paying dividends. He’s done all of the little things right and now he’s finally beginning to see some results.
Here are two early plays where he demonstrates his puck retrieval, both of which turn into goals:
Anders Bjork – B
Anders Bjork is finally cementing himself as an everyday NHL player. After back to back seasons ending in injury, Bjorkie is here to stay. Despite not putting up massive numbers (three goals and an assist in 15 games) Bjork is providing very much needed stability to the third line. He looks stronger, smarter and more confident with the puck and just like Heinen, more results will continue to come.
The Fourth Line (Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom) C+
Yea this may seem like a cop-out to include all three into one rank but when healthy, they’ve been rolled out as a line for a large majority of the time. They haven’t been quite as effective as last year, but have continued to start about 67% of their shifts in the defensive zone against many opposing top players. The combined four goals and -8 rating isn’t going to show how defensively sound they have been but with the prowess of all three players and what we saw them do last year, a little more offense would be a nice boost to the Bruins’ roster.
Par Lindholm – C-
Despite only having one goal in 13 games, I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Par Lindholm so far. Interestingly enough, up until the Bruins last game against the Washington Capitals, the Swede was the only player in the NHL that hadn’t had a goal scored on him at even strength. He was brought in as a decent option for the bottom-six and has been that so far.
Zach Senyshyn – B
It’s a real shame we didn’t get to see more of Zach Senyshyn this season because in his short stint, there was a lot to like. He was able to pick up two assists in four games and that could’ve certainly be more if he didn’t get injured (and there wasn’t a certain thing called instant replay). I think it’s time for people to stop calling the former 1st-rounder a bust and let the kid show why the Bruins went after him.
Karson Kuhlman – C+
No points in his eight games but his speed and work-ethic were always there. He was able to generate many chances but his puck luck just wasn’t there. Hopefully, Kuhlman can wow us some more after returning from his injury.
David Backes – C
Backes predominately worked on his skating over the summer and after a slow start, he was starting to find his game again. Specifically, he looked great in the game against the Sharks right before his unfortunate injury. His leadership will always be there but the biggest question is his health. It’ll be interesting to see what transpires when he gets healthy.
These next few players I haven’t given their own little paragraphs simply because they haven’t played enough games, each of the following have played three or fewer games.
Cameron Hughes – C- Only played one game but didn’t look too out of place on the fourth line. Paul Carey – C- Copy and paste above from Hughes. Peter Cehlarik – C Cehlarik’s time in Boston is running down. He’s looked solid in his minimal games, picking up an assist in that time, but it’s clear the Bruins’ system and Cehlarik haven’t clicked. Trent Frederic – C- He was able to layout six hits in just 12:52 minutes of ice-time. He plays his game hard and I’d like to see more of him next season.