The all-star break approaches, so let's take a look at the entire roster and see who's made the grade, and who needs to stay after class for some extra help.
Matthew Bartkowski - Grade: D. An Incomplete is more appropriate, but I'm a harsh grader. Sue me. -2 in 3 games and a negative Corsi don't earn you points in my book. Doesn't seem like he's developing the way you'd like, though to be fair, it's hard for anyone to look good on that lousy Providence team.
Patrice Bergeron - Grade: A. He probably should have made the all-star team, but averaging more ice time than any Boston forward, and the only one that sees consistent time in all three situations (penalty kill, power play, even strength), I'm thinking he could use the 5 days off. Bergeron is second on the team in points, brilliant on faceoffs and is a legitimate candidate for the Selke Trophy. Hard to do more than that at this point in the season.
Johnny Boychuk -Grade: B+. I like what Boychuk has done this year. He's benefiting, obviously, from pairing with Big Z on a consistent basis, but it's hard to knock the +22, or the sterling Corsi numbers. It seems like the brain farts that plagued Boychuk in the past seem to have subsided, and he's using his considerable physical talent to great advantage.
Gregory Campbell - Grade: B+. Campbell's a hard guy to grade. His relative Corsi is the worst on the team, and he's got just 10 points. So he sucks, right? Well, remember that he plays with a couple of muckers, gets an offensive zone start about once a month, and is a primary penalty killer. Soupy wins over 55% of his draws; only Peverley and Bergeron are better among guys who regularly take face-offs. He's dropped the gloves 5 times, allowing Lucic and Chara to rest their mighty knuckles and (somewhat more importantly) avoid potential injury. In short, Campbell does everything you want a fourth line center to do and a little more.
Jordan Caron - Grade: C. This has to be a frustrating year for Caron, who looked like a good bet to win a bottom 6 job, but his ascension has been stalled by the surprising play of Pouliot and Hamill. Personally, I'm okay with that. For years, the only requirement for promotion from Providence to Boston seemed to be having 2 legs, 2 arms and a head. If the Bruins are forcing good prospects to wait their turn, that's not a bad situation.
Zdeno Chara - Grade: A. 25 points, defensive leader in relative Corsi, and relative plus-minus (among guys with significant playing time). I'm sure he's looking forward to getting screwed out of another Norris Trophy.
Joe Corvo - Grade: B. I should give him an A just to show how much of an upgrade he is over the corpse of Tomas Kaberle. In truth, Corvo is playing the exact role that Kaberle played last year: tons of offensive zone and power play time, rarely on the penalty kill. If nothing else, Claude Julien is playing to his player's strengths. Corvo can skate like the wind, has a great shot and some very nice puck skills. But the Rock of Gibraltar on defense, he ain't.
Andrew Ference - Grade: B+. I don't think there's a player who's grown on me more in the last 18 months than Ference. He was dreadful in 2009-10, and signed to a contract extension that seemed mind-boggling at the time, was pretty good in 2010-11, sublime in the first round of the playoffs, and has kept it going from there. Ference's 16 points are impressive from a guy who's not renowned for his offensive skill set, and who gets essentially no power play time. On the intangible side, Ference is always one of the first guys to drop the gloves if a teammate has taken a borderline hit. You know what, Andrew? Just for you, I'll drive my mom's Prius on my next out of town trip, instead of my SUV.
Zach Hamill - Grade: C+. The eternal prospect has shown a pulse! I'm not convinced that there's a place in Boston for Hamill after this year, but he's skated well and (to my surprise) shown some ability to play wing. He's had some very soft ice time, surely by design, but he's shown that he may still have some value as an NHL player.
Nathan Horton - Grade: B. Horton should be a 30+ goal scorer every year, and yet, once again, he's on pace to come just short of that. He needs to shoot more and take fewer penalties, and neither of those flaws is likely to change. The +3 rating on a team this good is somewhat surprising considering he's on the top line. At this point, he is what he is: a very good winger who isn't quite a star.
Steven Kampfer - Grade: B. He's been phenomenal, but in very limited time. His Corsi and plus-minus numbers are off-the-charts good. Alas for Kampfer, Boston's defense has been (surprisingly) healthy all year, and so he's been stuck on the 9th floor more often than not. He'll have to settle for being one of the best 7th defensemen in the NHL.
Chris Kelly - Grade: A-. He's cooled a lot after a hot start, but that was to be expected. When your third line center is giving you 23 points in half a season and doing some first-class penalty killing, things are going well. I keep worrying that I'm going to wake up and read that Peter Chiarelli has signed him to a 3 year, $10 million contract extension.
David Krejci - Grade: B. He's the flip side of Kelly's season. After a cruddy start, Krejci has played to his true form, and his 31 points in 36 games are perfectly acceptable, considering where he started. But his +3 rating isn't impressive on this team, and his relative plus-minus is the worst of any forward. Krejci, improbably, seemed to be a better defensive player 3 years ago than he is now. If that's a product of working more on his offensive game and becoming a true #1 center, so be it, but it warrants mention.
Milan Lucic - Grade: B+. His numbers have been a little better than his linemates, so we'll bump him up half a grade. He's third on the team in points, is on pace for another 30 goal season and leads the team in hits by a decent margin. But Lucic takes way too many bad penalties, and I question whether that will ever change. Lucic plays with extreme aggression, and intimidation is a key part of his arsenal. It would be nice if he maintained the aggression, but played smarter, but I fear that it's something we'll just have to live with.
Brad Marchand - Grade: B+. Much like Lucic, Marchand really needs to do a better job of cutting down the dumb penalties. For a guy with a (well-earned) rep as an agitator, Marchand doesn't draw a whole lot more penalties than he commits. He draws 1.4 penalties per 60 minutes, but commits 1.3. You don't have to be a prick to be great at drawing penalties; Boston's leader in this department is Hamill, at 2.2. Among regulars, Bergeron and Seguin both score higher than Marchand. Still, we can't judge Squirrel too harshly when he's got 32 points in 37 games, and a gaudy +27.
Adam McQuaid - Grade: C+. McQuaid showed a little offensive skill last year, but that appears to have been an aberration, as he has just 4 points so far. He's been solid in his own zone, but his Corsi numbers are the worst on the defense. I'd say it's because he's on the third pairing...except that Andrew Ference has posted some very nice offensive numbers, almost exclusively at even strength. If only the Bruins could take McQuaid and Kampfer into a lab, and combine McQuaid's size, strength, physicality and own-zone awareness with Kampfer's speed, skating, passing and offensive awareness. If they could do that, they'd have one all-star defenseman, and one guy who's doing something other than playing hockey for a living.
Daniel Paille - Grade: B+. Quietly, Paille is having a magnificent year. So good for a fourth liner that I nearly bumped this up to an A-. I'll take 10 points in 36 games and a +7 from a fourth line winger any day. Yes, his Corsi numbers stink, but that's to be expected from a fourth liner. You know what really stands out, though? Paille hasn't had a penalty all year. Not a one. If the job of a fourth liner is to go out there for 10 minutes a night and not hurt your team, Paille has excelled.
Rich Peverley - Grade: A. I didn't love Pevs' contract extension, nor did I love the fact that they traded Blake Wheeler to get him, but Peverley has been excellent this year. 29 points in 36 games is excellent for a third line forward. What really stands out, though, is his penalty killing. Peverley has been Boston's best penalty killer, and it's not even close. (Yes, better than Bergeron. I'm sorry if that hurts his case for the Selke Trophy.) Peverley has 1.72 points per 60 minutes shorthanded. For perspective's sake, that's better than 4 Bruin forwards at even strength. He has a +4.32 relative plus-minus, by far the best of any Bruin penalty killer (Chara is second among regular penalty killers at +2.21).
Benoit Pouliot - Grade: B. With all the fuss about Pouliot's resurgence (or, I guess, "surgence", since he was never any good before this season), I was rather surprised to see that he had just 15 points. I honestly thought he had more. You can't complain about the value: 1 year, $1.1 million, some inside dirt on Les Habitants (probably), and a goal that's one of the sweetest you'll ever see. For a third liner, though, he doesn't provide as much ancillary value as you'd like. He doesn't kill penalties, he's nothing special defensively, he doesn't block shots, and he takes more penalties than I'd like. But he's been offensively good enough to hang with the second line on occasion and he has 47 hits, good for 6th on the team, 2nd among forwards (Lucic, obviously, is first) and ahead of guys like McQuaid, Ference and Campbell. Even the "greatest waste of talent in NHL history" can become tough when he puts on the spoked B.
Tuukka Rask - Grade: A. He leads the NHL in save percentage and goals against. I can't imagine what else you'd be looking for from a goaltender. Remarkably, the Bruins are poised to have the NHL leader in save percentage and goals against for the fourth straight year. Hey Timmy, is your seat getting a little warm? (Whoops, hang on, I'm dodging a lightning bolt.)
Tyler Seguin - Grade: A. It's hard to overstate what Seguin has done this year. At the tender age of 19, he's become an offensive alpha dog, leading the Bruins in goals and points. He almost never gets penalized and draws a fair number of them. Seguin's a Corsi machine, and small wonder: only Chara has taken more shots (only 2 more, at that). He's figured out that putting the puck on net is always a good thing. (Horton is 7 years older and still doesn't always grasp the concept.)
Dennis Seidenberg - Grade: B+. It seems that Seidenberg has finally done what the Bruins wanted him to do all last year: carry the second pairing. The Seidenberg-Corvo match seemed an odd one, to me, but it's worked pretty well. Seidenberg continues blocking shots at an impressive rate (81), and is second on the team in hits, and still soaks up ice time like a sponge, so the ancillary value is there. He's not providing quite as much offensive value as you'd hope, but part of that is probably due to letting Corvo carry more of the water. In return, Seids is picking up more of the slack on defense.
Tim Thomas - Grade: A. He's on pace to break his NHL record for single season save percentage...and he's second on his own team in that category! Thomas, of course, has a shot at his third Vezina Trophy in four years, and can't realistically do any more than he's doing. The goaltending Boston is getting right now is just unbelievable.
Shawn Thornton - Grade: B+. I've long said that having a designated enforcer is pointless. But if you're going to have one, it's hard to do better than Thornton, who at least won't hurt you too badly when he's on the ice. He's got 8 points and is a plus player despite playing on the fourth line. He's fifth on the team in hits despite getting about half the ice time that Lucic does. And of course, he inspired the Shawn Thornton Hat Trick.