We continue our 5 game grading with games 11-15 from the Boston Bruins schedule. We are harsh but fair graders, and spelling always counts. Lets see who improved, who regressed and who might get sent back a grade.
The Boston Bruins schedule got a little thrown off these 5 games with two seperate 5 day breaks due to COVID within the division. Easily the worst 5 game span for the Bruins, as they went 3-2 scoring just 10 goals and allowing 8.
Patrice Bergeron: When the team is only averaging two goals per game over 5 games, naturally point production will suffer. Just 1 goal and 2 assists for the Captain, but we all know he is much more than that. He still won 77 of 116 faceoffs (66.3%) and leads the way in defensively responsible hockey both on the PK and 5 v 5. Didn’t have his best outing against the Devils. He needs to be better, for the team to be better most nights.
GRADE: Games 1-5: A- Games 6-10: A Games 11-15: B
Brad Marchand: Marchand continued his torrid start to 2021 with 3 goals and 1 assist the past 5 including an OT breakaway game winner vs the Rangers. He played with a bit more of an edge than the previous 10, more like the #63 we are use to seeing from that end. He easily paced all forwards averaging 21+ minutes of icetime. The MVP chanting dropped a bit, but his effort every night cannot be questioned.
GRADE: Games 1-5: A Games 6-10: A Games 11-15: B+
David Pastrnak: Pasta stormed back onto the scene like he never missed a beat, but things cooled off a bit in the last 5. Just 1 goal and 3 assists he seemed to fan on more chances than we are use to from the defending Rocket Richard trophy winner. He was added to the 2nd line with Krejci vs New Jersey, and that didn’t go so well (although the entire team looked pretty bad). Undervalued for his physical game when it is needed and showed flashes this 5. Need to get him back on the top line and roaring again.
GRADE: Games 6-10: A+ Games 11-15: B-
Jake DeBrusk: JDB finally got back into the lineup after missing 5 games with injury and for the most part it has been a gentle return. Mostly slotted on the 3rd line he played just over 13 minutes per game in his 4 starts. After a 7 shot performance in his return game, he has managed just 5 the next 3. Still managed his 1st goal of the season, a beauty of a PP marker. Often looks like the fastest player on the ice. Known as a streaky scorer, he needs to get his streak on soon.
GRADE: Games 1-5: C-. Games 6-10: NA Games 11-15: C+
DAVID KREJCI: This grade has been a struggle each and every set of 5. The heartbeat of what should be Boston‘s secondary scoring line, he has not been able to get anything going with any of the partners the Cassidy Carousel throws his way. QB’d the top PP for much of the 5 and still only 2 assists. A pass 1st player for sure, but just 3 shots in 5 games? Left game 5 vs New jersey with a lower body injury. There are things he does every shift that don’t show up on the score sheet, but if this 2nd line is going to find a way offensively, it needs to start with him.
GRADE: Games 1-5: B- Games 6-10: B- Games 11-15: C-
NICK RITCHIE: Nobody expected Ritchie to be an every game 2nd line winger, let alone a mainstay on the top PP unit, yet here he is. Like the rest of the team, he wasn’t lighting up the score sheet (just 1 goal and 1 assist) but we did get to see a bit more of his physical game. Went 3 of the 5 games without a shot on goal, and not surprisingly had his share of defensive lapses. Still remains a force in front of the net. Just don’t expect it him to do it alone.
GRADE: Games 1-5: A Games 6-10: B+ Games 11-15: B
JACK STUDNICKA: out with injury/rehab in Providence. May get his chance in Tahoe if Krejci can’t bounce back.
GRADE: Games 1-5: C+ Games 6-10: C- Games 11-15: N/A
Charlie Coyle: The strength of this Bruin team is solid play up the middle of the ice. That just has not been happening for Coyle, despite Boston‘s great record. ZERO points in these 5 games. Just 5 shots on goal. Something needs to happen really soon with this Mass native. Too good of a player to be playing this bad for this long. He isn’t going anywhere, so he better figure it out.
GRADE: Games 1-5: B- Games 6-10: C- Games 11-15: D-
CRAIG SMITH: The Bruins shiniest and newest toy from the offseason suffered his first real new toy fatigue. Due in large part to overall weak play from the middle 6, but he is a HUGE part of that. High volume shooter managed just 10 shots and also ZERO points in the 5. He does bring an energy pretty much every shift, which we love, but we prefer something a little stronger than Gatorade. Maybe some fresh air in Tahoe will do him good.
GRADE: Games 1-5: B Games 6-10: B Games 11-15: C-
ANDERS BJORK: Here is one Boston Bruin that has hit the books and turned his grade on it’s head. Bjork went from nearly being a healthy scratch to being one of the teams most energetic and hardest skating players. Got rewarded with 1 goal and 1 assist, but he has been a lot more than that. Bouncing between the 3rd and 4th line he has proven he can make good use of his limited minutes with great speed and flashes of creativity and even strong physical play. A good 5 for Anders. Off the sit list. For now.
GRADE: Games 1-5: D Games 6-10: B- Games 11-15: B+
SEAN KURALY: These are the types of players that are hard to grade unless you are watching the games closely. Not going to light up the score sheet (1 goal), but needs to bring it EVERY shift and be hard to play against. Did manage 12 shots and for the most part the Kuraly motor is there. Has not hit his stride and needs to be better with his passes. Engine will only take you so far without some sort of steering. He has more.
GRADE: Grade games 1-5: B Games 6-10: B- Games 11-15: C-
CHRIS WAGNER: We have come to expect more from the Mayor of Walpole. A favourite of Cassidy, he saw under 10 minutes of TOI twice in 5 games and just might find himself on that healthy scratch list. Adding a number of bad penalties this 5 won’t help. Could use some of the tutoring Anders Bjork got, or we just might get our 1st Greg McKegg sighting at his expense.
GRADE: Games 1-5: B Games 6-10: B- Games 11-15: D
TRENT FREDERIC: We all know a little more aboiut what exactly Trent Frederic is. Tough, in your face player who can skate well and do a lot of those “hockey things” that you need on a team. Just don’t expect a whole lot of offence. He has had his chances, due to hard work around the net, but the finish is just not there. Yet. Still, we love to watch him play and teams have taken notice. Need to know where he is on the ice. But those stretches/shifts where he looks lost….they are not good.
GRADE: Games 1-5:A Games 6-10: B- Games 11-15: C+
Kuhlman, Lindholm, Blidh, Kase.: Not enough sample size to grade yet.
CHARLIE McAVOY: Here is the teacher’s pet! What is not to like about this 23 year old. He is the leader of this young backend and he does it every game by example. Hits, blocks, skating hard and appears to be the only Bruins D-man with any sort of offensive touch right now. Can get a bit wound up and take the odd bad penalty, but was impressive these 5 once again. Always leaves an apple on the desk.
GRADE: Games 1-5:B+ Games 6-10: A Games 11-15: A
BRANDON CARLO: Probably missing Gryzelcyk more than we know, he just has not been at his best again this 5. Hampered mostly by inconsistent play, you see the Carlo that is a defensive rock and then you will get some wandering, out of position play. Injuries in the back aren’t helping, but we have come to expect more from this player. Especially in a contract year.
GRADE: Games 1-5: C Games 6-10: B Games 11-15: C+
MATT GRZELCYK: Played 11:41 before back on the IR
GRADE: Games 1-5: C- Games 6-10: NA Games 11-15: N/A
Kevan Miller: Every game we seem to be surprised to see the situations Miller is put in. Labelled as a “bottom pair guy” he works the PK and even gets time 3 on 3. Nothing flashy. Nothing sexy. Just straight up go-go-go and as tough as they come. As expected often paced the team in hits and blocks for the most part of the 5. Has very much become a leader for this young D with McAvoy.
GRADE: Games 1-5: B Games 6-10: B Games 11-15: B
JEREMY LAUZON: Nobody has been thrown into a deeper end of the pool than Lauzon. Charged with playing on the top pair, he once again held his own over another 5 games. But we saw more youthful, inexperice errors than in the previous 10. Probably more suited to a bottom MAYBE middle pair he still is punching fairly well for being, what we think, is above his pay grade. Love his physical game. Still not sure what he will be, but so far we’ll take it.
GRADE: Games 1-5: B Games 6-10: B+ Games 11-15: B-
JAKUB ZBORIL: Found himself on the IR for the last game, but might have been a healthy scratch regardless based on play. Shows some real (and much needed!) offensive flair when he is out there, but can also looked completely lost at times in the 4 of 5 he played. Not unexpected with a young player. Needs to find his level with this D.
GRADE: Games 1-5: A Games 6-10: C Games 11-15: C-
CONNOR CLIFTON: Played in 3 of the 5 and continued his “Cliffy hockey” ways, just not with quite the same punch as his first few. Skated hard and never shied from a hit, he is who he is. Good skating bottom pair player who may have been asked to do a bit too much (like much of this D) due to injury. He will have more chances to improve, but we will take what he has given so far in this 5 as fair.
GRADE: Games 1-5: NA Games 6-10: B Games 11-15: C+
TUUKKA RASK: Tuukka played 3 of the 5 games and to us looked the best he has all season. He faced a lot of shots over 3 games stopping 94 of 101 shots, many in dramatic fashion. His positioning and movement is one of the best in the NHL and he proved it again in his starts. Making the crew in front of him look better than they are he will need to keep this up to keep Boston perched high in the East.
GRADE: Games 1-5: A- Games 6-10: B+ Games 11-15: A-
JAROSLAV HALAK: Jaro always seems to find himself in the less active games. In his 2 starts he faced 21 and 26 shots (Rask faced 24, 35 and 42) with two different rusults. A shutout win and a 3-2 loss. Nothing not to like here as the goals vs New Jersey were a result of poor defence and Halak made the saves he should. As good a backup as there is, and one of the more active ones. Kept up the good form in the 5
GRADE: Games 1-5: A Games 6-10: A- Games 11-15: A-
We will give out more grades after the next five games. Bruins will face:
February 21st, 2PM EST: Philadelphia Flyers (outdoor game Lake Tahoe)
February 25th, 7PM EST: @ New York Islanders
February 26th, 7PM EST: @ New York Rangers
February 28th, Noon EST: @ New York Rangers
March 3rd, 7PM EST: Washington Capitals