While the New Year isn’t officially the half-way point of the NHL season, it’s still far enough into the season to more accurately evaluate team performance.
Following Saturday night’s 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils the Bruins are 21-7-6 and still sit atop the Atlantic Division. Even with a recent 2-3-3 skid, Boston is still on pace for 115 points and comfortably in the playoff picture, far exceeding even the most generous preseason predictions. It’s hard to argue that the team performance as a whole deserves anything less than an A on their report card, but what about individual players?
David Pastrnak – A+
Pasta’s overall importance to the Bruins has already been covered but deserves repeating. His three point night against New Jersey was his third such performance this month and eighth this season. He’s fourth in the league in scoring and on pace for a career high 116 points. Hockeystatcards.com has graded him with the 9th highest offensive rating among forwards at 8.3, no other Bruin is above 3.9.
Charlie McAvoy – B
McAvoy hasn’t had the greatest season thus far relative to his lofty standards. He’s scored 20 points through 26 games, which would be a career high pace over a full season. His 3.5 offensive rating is the third highest on the Bruins and the only defenseman with a positive total. However his mid-term grade is dragged down by his defensive performance. McAvoy is currently a -7 on the season, a substantial drop from the +23 figure he’s averaged over his career. His defensive rating, per HockeyStatCards, is -0.8, second worst among Bruins blueliners. His 4-game suspension from the high hit on Ekman-Larsson didn’t help his grade either. McAvoy needs to find his Norris Top-5 form again in the second half.
Brad Marchand – A
The Bruins captain came alive in December after an underwhelming start to the season. After scoring just 7 goals and 19 points combined in October and November, Marchand records 6 goals and 13 points in December alone. He’s second behind Pastrnak in points and offensive rating. His 77 point scoring pace would be a 10 point bump over his total from last season. The Rat King is far from washed up.
Brandon Carlo – A+
Carlo doesn’t get as much love as other defensemen but he has quietly been a force for the Bruins blueline. His 4.2 defensive rating is the best on the team and sixth in the entire league. His defensive partnership with Hampus Lindholm has been the backbone of Boston’s Top 5 defense, only conceding six goals in over 346 minutes of game time.
Jake DeBrusk – C
DeBrusk has taken a significant step back offensively from his 50 point campaign last year. So far, he has just five goals and ten assists in 33 games. He chipped in the Bruins icebreaker against New Jersey on Saturday, which was his first goal in exactly a month. After back-to-back 25+ goal seasons, the last thing Boston needed was for DeBrusk to regress this much. His defensive metrics are keeping his grade afloat, sporting a 1.4 defensive rating, which is tied with John Beecher for the best for Bruins forwards. Still, DeBrusk needs to make a bigger impact offensively.
Photo: Michael Dwyer / AP