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Mid-Season Report Cards: Forwards

Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Loui Eriksson are all fantastic.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Patrice Bergeron: A+++

  • (42 GP, 15-23-38, +5, 24 PIM)

Patrice Bergeron is the best player in the NHL and should be in the discussion for the Hart. He’s still dominating the possession game while playing against insane competition. He’s still one of the best PKers in the league. Only difference is this year, he’s added another dimension to his game on the PP. Among players with over 100 minutes on the PP, only two get points at a faster rate than Bergeron. One is Patrick Kane and the other gets to pass to Alex Ovechkin. While everyone in Boston always knew that Bergeron was as valuable as any Hart candidate, he now has the raw point totals to convince everyone else. Even Sportsnet likes him.

Loui Eriksson: A+

  • (42 GP, 15-20-35, +7, 4 PIM)

Loui Eriksson is a sensational two way forward that seems to continuously change the game around him as he plays for the better, and his supposed good comeback year has been a smash hit. He’s consistently keeping pace in the fancystats category, his play from the eye test is a delight, and down in front of the net and in the slot he’s an absolute wizard. Hopefully not getting mauled by an All-Star this year means that his 35 points goes up all the way 50, but even ten more points isn’t out of the question for a player often unfairly pegged as a third liner, even though he does that duty extremely well. As an added plus, Eriksson’s workrate is unparallelled. If he’d been given the Big Dig, he’d have made sure it was finished in half the allotted time. By himself. The Bruins would not be where they are without Based Loui.

David Krejci: A

  • (35 GP, 11-22-33, +2, 14 PIM)

PLEASE COME BACK. i cry everyday

You know the deal with him by now. David Krejci is a great center and an unbelievable passer and scorer who bends time and space itself and uses both like paint on a canvas to create unbelievable goals. His absence is noticeable, and a big liability to a team that needs his creativity. One can only hope now that his injury time table is moved up, or the Bruins will be in HUGE trouble without him.

Ryan Spooner: B

  • (42 GP, 9-21-30, -7, 25 PIM)

Spoons didn’t start out great, and a lot of it usually came from an inconsistent lineup and early possession struggles. He was mostly sheltered in the offensive zone for the purposes of masking this, but watching him in his own end you really saw some major flaws that made you wonder if he was going to last as a Bruin. And then the Krejci injury happened. Since then, Spooner’s revelation-level play on the Power Play and his incredible improvement as second line center in Krejci’s absence has shot his grade right up to where it is.

Brad Marchand: A

  • (37 GP, 15-11-26, +8, 56 PIM)

Could this be the year? Brad Marchand missed a few games due to a pretty bone-headed move on his part, getting suspended for the Winter Cluster. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still on pace for his first 30-goal season. The Bruins’ favorite pest has become their most dangerous scorer. When he isn’t drawing penalties or killing penalties, he’s the perfect tandem player to Patrice Bergeron, with yet again amazing possession numbers. It’s making things difficult for Don Sweeney, with Brad coming up on the final year of his contract. Will his elite play lead to an early extension? If he does hit 30 goals come April, it will be hard to argue against it.

Additional arguments from Brad Marchand superfan asmae_t:

  • there is a strong argument for Brad being the best player for the Bruins this year

  • dominant in every single facet of the game - at even strength, shorthanded, on the powerplay

  • there is no stat or relative stat where he fails or doesn’t rank top 3 in. he is top amongst bruins in pretty much everything you look at

  • ridiculously dominant influence on driving possession but especially scoring

Matt Beleskey: B+

  • (40 GP, 7-13-20, +7, 38 PIM)

Mattlan Belucicsky is a grinding, heavy left wing that the Bruins picked up via free agency back in July. While Beleskey likely overachieved in points last season, it doesn’t mean he’s a disappointment with his new squad. Matt has skated alongside Ryan Spooner and David Krejci pretty exclusively all season, and so far he’s been truth to the cliche of a guy that “does stuff that doesn’t always show on the score sheet.” He’s been very visible on the forecheck, always putting some pressure on defenseman, and finishing most of his checks. He’s only of the few guys on the roster that’s big and quick enough to make good of the dump-and-chase. And he has been solid and reliable in all three zones. While Beleskey only has 7 goals on the year, his 20 points put him on pace to completely demolish his previous career high in points (32). Could he improve? Of course. It’d be nice to see his scoring luck change for the better. But he’s pretty much been what he has his whole career. And this year, his performance is a strong as ever.

Jimmy Hayes B+

  • (40 GP, 10-11-21, 0, 31 PIM)

The Duke Of Dorchester. Hayes Of Thunder. Jimmy Hayes’ list of nicknames at Chowder are long and varied, but he’s quietly becoming a heck of an asset to the B’s. He and Matt Beleskey seem to enjoy playing together on the rare occasions they do, and have done so from early season. Hayes gives exactly what Beleskey does-only better. The big power forward is tied for the lead in 5-on-5 B’s goals and has sweet hands for a big guy, particularly tipping cannons from the point. Some in Boston have criticised him for not playing more of an “intimidator” role or “sticking up for his teammates”. Those people are wrong.

Hayes is the ideal secondary power-forward. Running at a point every other game, he’s a very useful asset to the B’s indeed. He's also top 3 in expected goals, which should surprise exactly no one given his scoring pace. He knows his strengths are at burying pucks as opposed to driving play and consistently puts himself in prime positions to score. GOOD FOR HIM. Self-awareness is important and he sure has it.

Brett Connolly C

  • (40 GP, 5-9-14, -4, 16 PIM)

A few players have been called “passengers” when involved with Patrice Bergeron or Brad Marchand. The results and the stats are in and...Brett might’ve actually been have one. His 14 points over 40 games is somewhat disappointing, especially considering who he played most of the year with. Combined with his mediocre possession stats, he may have just not have been the kind of player for Patrice Bergeron...if that makes sense at all. Maybe playing him with Krejci when he returns might change something up, but as it stands, he has some catching up to do.

Frank Vatrano: A

  • (27 GP, 6-1-7, -1, 8 PIM)

Frank Vatrano is 15th among skaters with over 300 minutes in 5v5 G/60 with 1.19. He scores at a higher rate than Zach Parise, Steven Stamkos, Rich Nash, Jamie Benn, and Patrick Kane. He’s only shooting at 9%, but after 27 games he’s still the top player in the league in 5v5 shots/60. However, from an analytical standpoint, his numbers are quite concerning. He's a poor possession player, and a net negative influence on his linemates. the extent to which this is attributable to inconsistent or poor quality linemates remains to be seen. For right now, i would say he’s getting away with his creativity, shot and whole lot of luck. If that luck fails, he will drop down to a B-/B player.

Landon Ferraro: C

  • (23 GP, 3-4-7, -1, 11 PIM)

A recent addition, but one that seems to be somewhat promising in a 3rd line/4th line role. Ferraro came from the Red Wings after a quick trade, and has largely kept his nose clean and played inoffensive minutes to gain 7 points. As a 4th liner, he leads his line in points, which considering the low minute count in most games means there’s something to this young forward that is working, but he’s not performing to the point that he might deserve a promotion. Time will tell whether or not this grade changes.

David Pastrnak: A+ Five stars The Legend is real. (But for real, more like a very positive Incomplete)

  • (13 GP, 3-2-5, -3, 8 PIM)

...Okay, that might just be a little biased. In reality, Pastrnak stormed out of the gate like a lot of people hoped he might, but a nasty injury meant he’s spent most of the year on the IR list, and his return was stymied by the decision to send him to the WJC, and then to Providence. His reinclusion on the Boston Roster for a couple of games was a good sign and his play was encouraging, scoring a goal not too long after his return, but rushing him back has ultimately meant he’s Day-to-day on a roster that desperately needs him.

Tyler Randell: Incomplete, leaning C.

  • (20 GP, 4-0-4, +1, 40 PIM)

He scored 4 goals early, but otherwise Tyler Randell has remained fairly consistently...well, invisible in games he played. His shot is good, and he has played generally inoffensive minutes early on, and he punched a LOT of people, tying in leading the team in fights. Time will tell whether or not those 4 goals were aberrations, or maybe something overlooked.

Maxime Talbot C

  • (21 GP, 1-3-4, -5, 6 PIM)

Max Talbot is a fourth-line depth player who is up and down depending on need. When he’s been in the lineup, he’s done the job Max Talbot does, which is skate hard, hit things and make himself a pain in the ass to all and sundry not wearing a B’s jersey. If it’s a choice between him and Joonas Kemppainen, then Talbot probably gets the nod right now. But it appears the days of “Max Talbot, key forward on a Stanley Cup-winning team” are far behind him. There are better players in the B’s system, and Talbot is just keeping the spot warm. But he’s doing OK doing so.

Joonas Kemppainen: C+

  • (29 GP, 1-2-3, -8, 4 PIM)

Kemppainen is a decent fourth line center. Nothing special, will be able to get the job done at a reasonable level, but is a definite downgrade over Chris Kelly. Playing third line center has really showed the holes in his game, as he is dreadful offensively. He is another example of Bruins who are playing above their natural spot, and are suffering because of it.

Chris Kelly: Positive Incomplete

  • (11 GP, 2-0-2, +3, 0 PIM)

Chris Kelly as a fourth line center with the ability to slide up and play third line minutes are severely missed. Claude Julien used him in the Dan Paille role of fourth liner in name only, often being bumped up into a more prominent role when the bench was shortened. Out with a broken leg until the end of the year, his 3 million cap hit will have to be played with in order to add the top four defensive piece that this team sorely needs.

Zac Rinaldo: ...C-

  • (35 GP, 1-1-2, -7, 63 PIM)

A grade that high makes me feel unclean giving it to him.

Now that I’ve washed my sins away, Remaldo has done exactly what was expected of him as a 4th line grinder and a little beyond it. As a drawer of penalties (mostly for having a well founded reputation as an absolute shithead), he’s one of the best on the Bruins. According to he’s kept even or above .500, with only Jordan Tootoo dumping him on his head. On the other hand, he played apocalyptically bad at the Winter Classic, and just barely avoided suspension for running over former teammate Sean Couturier. He’s been inoffensive otherwise and his speed is always a nice surprise, but his unapologetic recklessness is something the Bruins should carefully consider curbing in the coming months, lest he remind fans just what Zac Rinaldo is famous for.

Alexander Khokhlachev: Incomplete

  • (5 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM)

81 minutes at 5on5. 81 minutes, some playing on his off wing, some playing on the fourth line. We have 5% of a clue as to what Koko is. Giving up on Khokhlachev would be a hasty decision, as he still shows the skill and versatility that Providence regulars know he has, and forechecks well. Tragically, his miscasting on lines that do not suit his needs or his strengths means that Koko has often been construed as a player who “isn’t making the most of his opportunities”. Which is impossible, since he’s never been in a position to do what he’s good at. may have to find playing time more in the AHL, hope for a drastic change in what the Bruins think a 4th line should do, another drastic injury has to happen, or he’ll need to hope for a trade at the deadline.