By: Matt Barry | Follow Me On Twitter @oobcards
As kids begin this most unprecedented school year, what better time than now to do a Bruins postseason report card. After a disappointing second round exit, you can begin to see some of the reasons the Bruins became underachievers after the pandemic break.
This is the type of report card my dad would have not been pleased with thirty years ago. In fact, I may not have taken the bus home that day. But, there is always room for improvement…next year.
Patrice Bergeron – B
The Bruins #1 center has always been a consistent player over the years. It is hard to criticize him and the last few years Bergeron has actually gotten better with age. However, this postseason may have been a precursor for things to come. Bergeron looked slow at times and was not as good on the faceoff dot against Tampa Bay as he has been his entire career. Patrice finished the thirteen game postseason at 2-6-8 with a +2, and provided some offense and a game-winning overtime goal against Carolina. Bergy did stay in the “B” range by not having a 5 on 5 goal scored against him in the 10 real playoff games. Patrice Bergeron was pretty good, but not his usual self at times.
Brad Marchand – A-
Marchand was the best Bruin throughout the postseason. The Bruins left winger was 7-5-12 in thirteen games and scored on twenty-five percent of his shots. Marchand was the one Bruin who brought it every night. Brad does not get a straight A because he only took twenty-eight shots in thirteen games. And I hate when Marchand tries a low percentage one-on-one move inside the blue line and turns it over.
David Pastrnak – C+
David Pastrnak was fighting injury from the start. Pastrnak obviously had a groin injury or potential sports hernia. Pasta had very little burst when skating and struggled to set his feet for his signature one-timer on his goal in Game 5 against Tampa. Pasta is the Bruins best goal scorer and finished at 3-7-10 in 10 games, but did miss games due to protocol issues, which probably did not help. Only one even strength goal and a -3 will not cut it.
David Krejci – C
Well, here’s the good: 4-8-12 in thirteen games and a big goal to tie Game 5 late against Tampa. Here’s the bad: A -5 and only twenty-three shots for the Bruins second line center. Krejci does not shoot enough anyway, but the Bruins really needed him to be more assertive. Defensively, his lack of speed is really becoming an issue. The Krejci line was hemmed in the zone quite a bit against a faster team. Krejci gets a C, only because he was nearly a point per game player in these playoffs.
Ondrej Kase – F
This is probably harsh, but I am not a an Ondrej Kase fan. I can see why teams see his potential because Kase seems to look the part and have all the tools. But, in the end, Kase shows why he was a 7th round pick. The mid season pickup just can not finish and David Krejci needs a finisher. Kase also missed Phase 3 due to protocol and posted a 0-4-4 in eleven games. It was just not good enough for a guy who was brought over for a package that included a first round pick.
Jake DeBrusk – C-
I am going to be hard on Jake here. The second line left winger did score four goals. Just when it looks like DeBrusk may never score again, he will score a couple and get you falling back in love with him. But DeBrusk was a -3 and is not getting enough chances. Jake was trying to get to the front of the net more, but the team needs a guy who can get deflections and rebound goals. Bruce Cassidy mentioned the need for it from his team going forward.
Charlie Coyle – B
Charlie has been a great pickup for the Bruins and is a very good third line center. Coyle was 3-2-5 in thirteen games, but did have a -4 overall. I am going to blame some of that on the cast of linemate characters Coyle has been given. The Weymouth, Mass. native is also one of the better puck possession guys on the team.
Sean Kuraly – C-
I will be honest and say that if I didn’t have the stats, I would have given Kuraly a B- or so. But Kuraly was a -4 and had just a goal and two assists. He was also injured and missed three games overall. Kuraly is at his best when he cycles and possesses the puck. The third liner showed flashes of doing that in the playoffs, but it wasn’t enough. Sean Kuraly is probably best as a fourth liner and was put on the third line often.
Anders Bjork – D-
I am beginning to lump Bjork into the group of AHL lifers that the Bruins have rolled out over the years. I didn’t give Bjork an F because he is a younger player, but the former Notre Dame star needs to show something more or the Bruins need to move on from Bjork in a trade. He was 0-1-1 and took three minor penalties in one game. Blah.
Chris Wagner – C
Chris Wagner is a good fourth line player. Wags plays with some sandpaper, a little bit of skill and is reliable. The Walpole native was not great in these playoffs (-5). Wagner did have two goals and thirty-four hits. Wagner also had an injury issue that took him out of the lineup later in the second round.
Joakim Nordstrom – D-
Someone should do a DNA check to see if Kase and Joakim Nordstrom are brothers. It seemed that Nordstrom could have had six goals in the postseason. The only thing keeping him from an “F” is his fifty-five hits. Nordy was a -6 and is a free agent. Good luck with your future endeavors, Joakim Nordstrom.
Karson Kuhlman – D
Karson Kuhlman has terrific speed. There was one play when Kuhlman burst down the left side and cut across the net for a great chance. Kuhlman needs to do more of that in order to separate him from other players on the roster. In five games, Kuhlman was a -2 with eleven shots. Kuhlman showed some flashes, but not enough of them.
Par Lindholm – F
How can you play seventy-five minutes of hockey and get five shots on net? A -2 in six games, I am not sure what Lindholm brings to the table. Lindholm only had SEVEN hits as a fourth liner. Yuck.
Nick Ritchie – Expelled
In eight games, Ritchie had six shots. The mid-season acquisition, that sent Danton Heinen to Anaheim, started the playoffs skating around aimlessly. Then he tried to be an enforcer, which resulted in a five minute major. Ritchie does not get a grade. Nick Ritchie has been asked to leave.
Jack Studnicka – Incomplete
Jack Studnicka is an intriguing player. The rookie forward did not get on the scoresheet in five games, but Studnicka seemed to be around the action a lot when the winger was out there. Studnicka was noticeable. Jack certainly is skilled and, although he will not be an overly physical type of player, the Bruins need him to be a productive top six forward, preferably top three next season.
Charlie McAvoy – B+
Charlie McAvoy got better as the postseason went on. McAvoy is the new top defenseman, in case you have not noticed. McAvoy logs a ton of minutes, is a real bulldog, and started to assert himself more offensively too. The former BU star can really rush the puck. The one downfall was his a -6 rating, or this would have been an “A”. Charlie is the cornerstone for a long time and he’s only twenty-years old.
Brandon Carlo – B+
Brandon Carlo will not overwhelm you with great stats, however he is a pretty solid defenseman. Carlo had some rust after entering the bubble. With his style, it is hard to take a layoff and then return to form. But Carlo got better as the postseason went on and had an Even plus-minus rating on a team with a lot of minus players.
Zdeno Chara – D
Ugh. It pains me to do this. Zdeno Chara was slow and not as strong with his stick or on his skates. Nikita Kucherov knocked him down, which says a lot. The Captain was a -4, but Chara did have twenty-one blocked shots. Chara’s strength is still his long stick on the penalty kill. In his old age, Chara does hold the puck too long and had trouble clearing the zone all postseason long.
Matt Grzelcyk – C+
I like Matt Grzelcyk’s game. The former BU star has good speed and excellent skating ability. I think Gryz will add more offense if given the opportunity. The Charlestown, Mass native was solid in the postseason and made good decisions with the puck for the most part. The restricted free agent was a bright spot and in line for a raise.
Connor Clifton – B
Connor Clifton was really good for much of the postseason. Clifton plays with a little edge and personality. Connor had thirty-three hits and was a presence physically. Clifton and Grzyelcyk should signs of becoming a good third pair on defense. “Cliffy Hockey” even chipped in a goal and was only a -1.
Jeremy Lauzon – C-
Jeremy Lauzon played six games and was a -3. Lauzon did have nineteen hits and may have a future as a third pair defenseman. But, next season is a big one for the 2015 draft pick. Can Jeremy Lauzon be an NHL defenseman or not?
John Moore – Incomplete
John Moore played one head-scratching game. Moore was inserted into the lineup for Clifton and was a -1 in 15 minutes of ice time. It was a weird lineup change considering Clifton was playing well.
Tuukka Rask – C-
Before he opted out, Tuukka Rask was 1-3 with a 2.57 GAA and .904 save percentage. The Bruins netminder was good at times and not so engaged other times. It will be interesting to see if Rask returns next season, especially if the season begins in a bubble.
Jaroslav Halak – C-
It was a challenging position for Jaroslav Halak when Rask left abruptly. You can add to the fact that there was a back-to-back scenario on the schedule, which resulted in Halak being pulled. However, Halak really battled and almost stole Game 5. The backup goalie let in too many soft ones, though. Losing Rask really hurt.
Dan Vladar – Incomplete
I am giving Dan Vladar an incomplete. The rookie was obviously over his head when he was inserted into Game 3 of the second round. To make matters worse, his teammates allowed the skilled Brayden Point to walk in alone from the red line. It just wasn’t a great spot for Vladar. The coaches did not do him any favors. However, management did by signing him to a three-year extension.
I am a big Bruce Cassidy fan. I love his honesty and willingness to take responsibility. This was not a great postseason for the Bruins head coach. Losing Rask did not help and he also had a banged-up David Pastrnak. His lineup changes, however, were odd, and he was unwilling to break up the top line for much of the postseason. When Cassidy finally did, the team played well in the elimination game. It just was not Cassidy’s best effort. However, it was an unprecedented situation and the team just never seemed to get back to their game that won them the President’s Trophy before the break. My question, though, is: If you used the round-robin portion as a preseason of sorts, why rest players mid-series? But, I am willing to chalk this up to “nobody’s perfect.”