We’re just past the midway point of the 2011-12 season, so it’s time to assess the individual performances of the defending champs.
The grades below are based heavily upon expectations of each player heading into the season. Here’s a look at the Bruins’ band of centers and wingers:
Tyler Seguin (A)
42 games, 17 goals, 23 assists, 40 points, plus-35
Few knew what to expect of the second-year pro, but Seguin has seemingly been the Bruins’ leading point-getter since the start of the season. After a brief tour of duty on the first line, the 19-year-old has thrived on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. His plus-35 is tops among all NHL players by leaps and bounds.
Patrice Bergeron (A)
43 games, 14 goals, 25 assists, 39 points, plus-27
Boston’s ever-reliable pivot is on pace for a career year and has taken serious advantage of the talented wingers he’s been flanked by for most of the campaign. Furthermore, Bergeron remains an absolute stud in his own end and could be in line for a well-deserved stick salute when it’s time to vote for the Selke Award at year’s end.
Milan Lucic (B+)
42 games, 16 goals, 18 assists, 34 points, plus-5
After tallying twice from the middle of November to Dec. 14, Lucic and the rest of his line have turned up the dial. No. 17 has six goals in the last 12 contests and is right on pace for another 30-goal campaign.
David Krejci (B+)
40 games, 10 goals, 24 assists, 34 points, plus-1
Since inking a contract extension to remain in Boston for the foreseeable future, Krejci has been on an absolute tear. He has 11 points through eight games in January. The center’s unspectacular plus-1 rating is a bit of a concern, as just eight of his points have come on the power play.
Brad Marchand (A-)
37 games, 16 goals, 16 assists, 32 points, plus-27
Many were quick to assume that Marchand’s marvelous rookie year and superb playoff run were a mere fluke, but the feisty winger has more than proven those assessments dead wrong. No. 63 is on pace to crush the 21-goal total he finished with last season, provided he doesn’t do anything the second half that warrants yet another conversation with league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.
Nathan Horton (B)
43 games, 16 goals, 15 assists, 31 points, plus-1
Horton has upped his game of late with seven goals in his last eight games, but the 2011 playoff hero has been quite prone to stretches of inconsistency. In the three games leading up to his two-goal outing against the Lightning on Jan. 17, Horton put one puck on net in each contest. If he can avoid such lulls going forward, 30 goals should be quite achievable.
Rich Peverley (B+)
37 games, 7 goals, 22 assists, 29 points, plus-15
Peverley has been slowed by a nagging injury that’ll reportedly plague him all season, but his production has still been highly impressive. The 29-year-old forward has really clicked on the third line with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot and has proven to be more than adept at distributing the puck from the point on Boston’s top power-play unit.
Chris Kelly (A)
43 games, 13 goals, 10 assists, 23 points, plus-21
While Seguin’s first half has been astonishing, perhaps no Bruin has exceeded expectations more than Kelly. The veteran center is just two of his career high of 15 goals. He’s been a key cog on the penalty kill, provided a surplus of offense and certainly done more than enough to warrant a contract extension from GM Peter Chiarelli.
Benoit Pouliot (B)
38 games, 8 goals, 8 assists, 16 points, plus-17
Many gagged at the thought of Pouliot trading in blue, blanc et rouge for black and gold, but after a decidedly slow start, the former Canadien has found his stride. In his last 30 games, Pouliot has 16 points and a plus-20 rating. The 25-year-old winger’s confidence has clearly shot straight up, leading to Claude Julien exuding far more trust in him in a number of situations.
Dan Paille (B+)
39 games, 8 goals, 3 assists, 11 points, plus-6
Well here’s another offensive surge no one saw coming. At times in the past, it seemed like Paille couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat, but the speedy winger has added a finishing touch to his defensive excellence. Paille’s .174 shooting percentage is a hair above the .173 he posted in 2007-08 when he had a career-high 19 goals for the Sabres.
Greg Campbell (B)
40 games, 4 goals, 6 assists, 10 points, plus-7
Campbell’s best month in 2010-11 came in January when he had four goals and five assists in 13 contests. This time around, he has just one point through eight games. Overall, the numbers haven’t popped off the page as much as they did last season, but the 28-year-old center’s grittiness and reliability have been right on par with a year ago.
Shawn Thornton (B)
43 games, 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, even
Like Campbell, the scoring chances have been down for Thornton this season, as Boston’s resident pugilist is on pace for roughly 40 less shots than he fired last season. However, No. 22 has more than done his job for Claude Julien’s squad, racking up a team-high 10 fighting majors thus far – twice as many as Campbell, who ranks second on the club with five. Thornton’s scintillating strike on a penalty shot also earns him a few bonus points.
Jordan Caron (incomplete)
17 games, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, even
Zach Hamill (incomplete)
12 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, plus-5
Stay tuned for Part II, featured the Bruins defensemen, goaltenders and coach Claude Julien.