December 5, 2013

Bruins Report Card: Forwards

 By Jesse Connolly

Here’s the second half of our Bruins report card, which looks back on the first third of the season for the Black and Gold’s forwards:

PATRICE BERGERON (B)
8 goals, 5 assists, 13 points, plus-8, 27 GP

To the surprise of zero intelligent hockey fans, Bergeron has done all the little things right in 2013-14. That’s best exemplified with his 60.2 faceoff percentage, which ranks third among all qualifying centers in the NHL. But the point totals haven’t been up to No. 37’s standards. That’s primarily a byproduct of Bergeron being on a line that hasn’t fired on all cylinders quite yet.

On pace for: 13 points
Over/under: Over

GREGORY CAMPBELL (C+)
1 goal, 3 assists, 4 points, plus-1, 27 GP

Campbell’s been a mixed bag in the first third of the season. He’s third in hits (50) and second in blocked shots (17) among Boston forwards, which is impressive considering his ice time. However, he’s seen his faceoff percentage drop for a third straight year (46.5 right now), took 17 games to record his first point of the season and has been beaten soundly in each of his three fights on the year.

JORDAN CARON (D)
1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point, minus-3, 11 GP

Caron started off the season strong with an impressive showing on opening night and a followup performance that saw him bury his first goal of the season. He hasn’t done a darn thing since, going nine games without a point (many without even putting a puck on net) and has become the team’s full-time spare part up front, shy of the occasional insertion onto the fourth line to shake some rust off.

On pace: 33 games
Over/under: Under


LOUI ERIKSSON (B-)
5 goals, 9 assists, 14 points, plus-8, 22 GP

We’ll start with the good news: Eriksson really started to come around in November. The bad news: In what’s been a hot-and-cold first season in Boston, that month of November saw him post zero points in six of the 14 contests. We knew it might take time for him to develop chemistry with his new comrades, and t seems like the B’s second line is ready for launch, but one had to figure Eriksson -- who missed five games with a concussion -- would be on pace for more than 45-or-so points at this juncture.

On pace: 28 assists
Over/under: Over

JAROME IGINLA (B)
5 goals, 10 assists, 15 points, plus-11, 27 GP

Much like Eriksson, Iginla’s numbers aren’t quite where we probably thought they’d be, but color me slightly more impressed with what the future Hall of Famer’s shown so far. The goal total’s a bit perplexing, as Iginla is second on the club with 71 shots and the tide has to turn at some point. He’s fought (and won) multiple times throughout the year, trails only Milan Lucic among forwards with 56 hits. If strong games were a category, I might venture to say Iggy’s been the B’s most consistent forward. The points should start coming at a higher rate soon.

On pace for: 15 goals
Over/under: Over


CHRIS KELLY (C+)
3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, minus-1, 27 GP

A poor man’s Bergeron is a good way to describe Kelly, who’s a hair under 50 percent on the year on faceoffs and has been a key cog for a penalty kill that had climbed its way back to among the league leaders in November. It’s looking more and more like that 20-goal season in 2011-12 is one he’ll never be able to replicate but, at worst, Kelly’s just short of realistic expectations in 2013-14 -- an assessment based on his play at both ends of the rink. One has to think he’ll bump into more points as his linemates, Reilly Smith and Carl Soderberg, continue to develop chemistry.

On pace for: 12 assists
Over/under: Over


DAVID KREJCI (B)
4 goals, 17 assists, 21 points, plus-9, 27 GP

Krejci came out of the gate like a man possessed, notching 12 points in the first 10 contests. He hasn’t quite sputtered out since then, but his nine points over the last 17 contests are underwhelming. Boston’s first-line pivot had a tough November and still hasn’t scored a power-play goal, despite being a mainstay on the first unit. He does, however, head into December with five points in the last five games.

On pace for: 12 goals
Over/under: Over


MILAN LUCIC (A)
11 goals, 9 assists, 20 points, plus-10, 27 GP

The B’s best forward so far in 2013-14 has looked motivated and mean on a nightly basis, making life rough for opposing defenders. Lucic leads the club in goals and game-winners and has managed to rediscover the blend of punishing hits and consistent goal-scoring that made him the game’s marquee power forward a few years back.

On pace for: 60 points
Over/under: Slightly over

BRAD MARCHAND (C)
4 goals, 8 assists, 12 points, plus-6, 27 GP

Had he not closed out November with four points in the last four games, Marchand probably would’ve warranted a lower grade. Who’d have ever thought we’d be saying that about Boston’s leading goal-scorer a season ago? No. 63’s been off since the moment the puck dropped, as his offensive production has been bare bones and his trademark feistiness and pest-like ways have been MIA. Maybe if we see more of the latter it’ll benefit the former going forward.

On pace for: 12 goals
Over/under: Over


DAN PAILLE (B)
3 goals, 2 assists, 5 points, plus-2, 27 GP

Paille might’ve set the bar a little high after scoring 10 times in 47 games last season. We’ve seen a return to the norm for the winger in his fifth season with the club. Paille’s point totals go hand-in-hand with Campbell’s lengthy drought to begin the year. Because the left winger has been extremely effective defensively during 5-on-5 play and while on the PK, he still warrants an honor-roll worthy grade.

On pace for: 15 points
Over/under: Over


REILLY SMITH (A-)
5 goals, 12 assists, 17 points, plus-3, 27 GP

If you predicted Smith would sit third on the team in point heading into December, you’re a big fat liar and I will never believe anything you say ever again. But seriously, the former Stars farmhand has been quite the pleasant surprise. What’s truly impressive about Smith's numbers is the fact that he has spent two-thirds of the season on the B’s third line and ranks seventh among forwards in power-play time.

On pace for: 51 points
Over/under: Push


CARL SODERBERG (B-)
3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points, minus-2, 21 GP

The Swedish forward is quickly becoming quite the playmaker as he continues to adapt to NHL hockey. Soderberg has developed killer chemistry with Smith on the third line and the B’s second power-play unit. He could use some sharpening up in his own end, but that will come with time and hopefully his offensive game will continue to blossom.

On pace for: 9 goals
Over/under: Over

RYAN SPOONER (INCOMPLETE)
0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, even, 2 GP

Spooner looked closer to being NHL-ready than he was when summoned to the NHL during his first full year of pro hockey in 2012-13. The skilled center has been spectacular down on the farm for Providence, but it’s too early to judge his body of work for the 2013-14 campaign with the big club.

SHAWN THORNTON (B)
3 goals, 0 assists, 3 points, plus-4, 25 GP

Thornton’s done exactly what’s always expected of him so far this season, as he owns a 4-0 fighting record and continues to be extremely effective in the pugilistic element of his role with the Black and Gold. Furthermore, Thornton’s on pace to be back in that double-digit goal range. No. 22’s been on the ice for just two goals against this season in 210 minutes of play. That’s, essentially, a 0.57 goals-against average for Boston when Thornton’s on the ice.

On pace for: 12 fighting majors
Over/under: Over

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com