The Bruins wrapped up the first half of their 48-game schedule in horrific fashion Tuesday, blowing a two-goal lead in the final 6:18 against the Penguins and suffering their fourth regulation loss of the season.
The Bruins have led entering the third period in three of their four regulation losses this season, and they had a 4-3 lead in the third period of their other one. You can look at that one of two ways: Either that B’s can’t hold a lead in the third or that the B’s have been able to get points in all but four games thus far.
The latter is the reason they are on pace for the most points in the Eastern Conference this season. All things considered, they’ve been the conference’s best team, so as they hit the midway mark, the report card doesn’t feature too much doom and gloom (only one grade below a C, and you can probably guess which former third-line winger got that).
The grading formula is based largely about what we already knew about the player and the expectations going into the season, so a higher grade by no means says that player has been better than a player with a lower grade. For example, Daniel Paille, who has exceeded expectations this season, has a higher grade than Tyler Seguin, who got off to a slow start. Ditto for Dougie Hamilton and Zdeno Chara having the same grade. Hamilton’s ability to handle what’s been thrown at him gets him a B, while Zdeno Chara, who obviously is significantly better and more important, has a B simply because he doesn’t look like a Norris finalist at this point.
Also, these grades are completely subjective, but the takeaway in looking at the list afterward is that Claude Julien’s system and the team’s execution of it sure is strong, as the complete standout showings have been few and far between, with the majority of the grades falling in the B or C range.
Brad Marchand: A
If this is the type of player that Brad Marchand’s going to be -- a strong two-way player who can lead the team in goals -- the Bruins may have gotten quite the bargain with the extension to which they signed him last summer (four years with a $4.5 million cap hit annually).
So far this season, 12 of Brad Marchand’s 44 shots on goal have gone in. That’s good for 27.3 percent, which puts him fourth in the league. Marchand could have 15 or 16 goals right now were it not for a few whiffs earlier on in the season.
Patrice Bergeron: A-
Bergeron finally got the recognition he deserved by winning the Selke last season. With a plus-18, he should be in the conversation again this season.
David Krejci: B+
Consistency will always be the name of the game with Krejci, and it’s been there this season. Krejci has only gone two straight games without a point once. Last season he had six streaks of at least three games without a point, including stretches of five, six and seven games.
Daniel Paille: B
If this were an 82-game season, Paille would be on pace for 20 goals as a fourth-liner. That’s impressive no matter how you slice it. Paille also has looked good on Chris Kelly’s line when he’s been used there.
Tyler Seguin: B-
Seguin has picked it up of late, but you have to factor in that he was nowhere to be found offensively earlier in the season. Still, he leads the team with three power-play goals and he’s been a better two-way player than he was in his first two seasons.
Gregory Campbell: C+/B-
Playing in the first year of a three-year, $4.8 million deal, Campbell’s done nothing to change the idea that B’s were smart to keep him, especially at that price. Campbell’s line has also started to bring more offense after a slower start.
Milan Lucic: C+
Lucic answered early questions about being out of shape by scoring goals in two of the first three games, but he’s scored just twice in the 19 games since and has gone nine in a row without a goal.
Nathan Horton: C+
While Horton’s 7-5-12 line is so-so, the most important stat is his 24 games played. He’ll need to stay healthy down the stretch to command good money as a free agent.
Shawn Thornton: C+
The lasting moment of the first half for Thornton was Buffalo's John Scott handling him decidedly on Jan. 31, but Thornton’s back to dropping the gloves after missing time and not fighting in his first nine games back after his concussion. Thornton also scored a key goal Monday night to sent the Bruins into the first intermission down by one rather than two.
Chris Kelly: C
Kelly had a career year last season (20 goals, 19 assists for 39 points and a plus-33) and cashed in with a four-year, $12 million deal. Though he’s continued his strong two-way play and has helped kill off some key penalties, the lack of offense (two goals and four assists for six points and a minus-6) has been an issue. If he’s lost for a prolonged perioud, that will be rough for the B’s.
Rich Peverley: C
Peverley is in the first season of a three-year contract with an annual cap hit of $3.25 million. His three goals thus far have not justified that money yet.
Chris Bourque: D
Bourque doesn’t get an F because these grades are based on what the expectations were going in. Bourque looked like a big gamble going in, so was anyone really surprised when it didn’t work out?
Incomplete: Jay Pandolfo, Jamie Tardif, Lane MacDemid, Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner
Dougie Hamilton: B
The expectation was that it was going to take some time for Hamilton to be comfortable at the NHL level. While there have been some growing pains (giveaways), Claude Julien obviously trusts him a ton and he’s an asset on the power play.
Zdeno Chara: B
Has this been Chara’s best season defensively or offensively? While Tuesday night’s power-play goal prevents him from being on pace for his worst point-per-game production since 2002-03, the answer is no. Still, he remains a nightmare to play against and a minutes-eater.
Dennis Seidenberg: B
His giveaway to set up Pittsburgh’s go-ahead goal wasn’t pretty on Tuesday, but Seidenberg usually is as steady as they come and remains a steal at his $3.25 million cap hit. Additionally, he’s been a great mentor and defensive partner for Hamilton.
Johnny Boychuk: B-/C+
The argument that Zdeno Chara’s partner will always look good because he plays with Chara is valid, but Boychuk has been serviceable as usual.
Adam McQuaid: C+
He’s been the steadier half of a relatively shaky pairing this season with Andrew Ference and is second on the B’s with four fighting majors.
Andrew Ference: C
Ference has picked it up of late, but this hasn’t been the prettiest season for the veteran defenseman. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end, so it will be interesting to see what happens with him.
Incomplete: Aaron Johnson
Tuukka Rask: B+
Everybody knew that Rask was a No. 1 talent in goal, and it’s been so far, so good in the early going. He still needs to show that he can do it for an entire season, so Rask will have something to prove for a while.
Anton Khudobin: B
The end of Tim Thomas’ time in Boston also meant the end of one of the best goaltending tandems in the league, but Khudobin has been a fine backup for the B’s in winning four of the six games he’s started. Had the Bruins been able to hold on Tuesday night, Khudobin’s saves throughout the night would have been the reason.