HomeNHLBoston Bruins 2020-21 Season Grades by Position
Boston Bruins 2020-21 Season Grades by Position
May 14, 2021
The Boston Bruins’ 2020-21 common season is lastly over. The group completed with a report of 33-16-7, good for 73 factors and third place within the MassMutual East Division. Earlier than their first-round matchup in opposition to the Washington Capitals begins, let’s look again on the common season.
I shall be assigning a letter grade to every place based mostly on the group’s complete physique of labor. Sure, the star gamers largely lived as much as expectations, however we should additionally account for the opposite key contributors. Whereas one man could have been an elite participant at his place, the group as an entire could not have completed so effectively. In any case, every place was ok to earn the Bruins a coveted playoff spot, and that’s what counts.
Key Gamers: Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak, Jeremy Swayman, Dan Vladar
4 goaltenders began in not less than 5 video games for the Bruins this season. Tuukka Rask began 24 video games, Jaroslav Halak 19, Jeremy Swayman 10, and Dan Vladar 5. Between the 2 veterans of the group, Rask regarded significantly better than Halak, solidly beating him in save proportion and objectives allowed common.
Halak’s report of 9-6-4 is just not very spectacular, and he gave up some mushy objectives in his most up-to-date begin in opposition to the New Jersey Devils on Might 4. Some say he has performed his final recreation in a Bruins’ uniform. Whereas I agree that that is virtually definitely his last season in Boston, I believe he may nonetheless see a while within the playoffs. It’s too early to make Swayman the everlasting backup.
Whereas Rask was rehabbing a again harm and Halak was sidelined with COVID-19, Swayman and Vladar stepped up and performed a giant half in retaining the Bruins within the playoff race. Swayman’s numbers from his 10 begins are absurd: 1.50 GAA, .945 SV%, and a 7-3 report. That is no fluke. He was a big-time participant on the collegiate stage and within the AHL. The 22-year-old has all of the makings of a star goaltender within the NHL.
Vladar regarded sharp in reduction as effectively, for essentially the most half. His numbers don’t look practically as spectacular, however that is largely as a result of his last begin on April 11, through which he gave up eight objectives to the Capitals. He nonetheless made a powerful case for the Bruins to carry onto him for the long run or to make use of him as a precious commerce piece.
This grade would have been an A+ if not for Halak. However his efficiency wasn’t that dangerous, all issues thought-about. He confronted about three extra photographs per recreation than Rask, and his 4 OT losses can’t be positioned solely on his shoulders. It’s a lot simpler to get to the web in a 3-on-3 state of affairs, plain and easy. He’s nonetheless one of many higher back-ups within the league and will fill in adequately for Rask in a postseason recreation. He additionally simply had a birthday, so let’s minimize him some slack.
Key Gamers: Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Mike Reilly, Kevan Miller, Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton, Jakub Zboril
The Bruins’ blue line was plagued with accidents from begin to end. All the above names missed time as a result of harm, aside from Connor Clifton and commerce acquisition Mike Reilly. This has considerably affected the group’s general efficiency. When wholesome, that is an above-average unit, however that has merely not been the case for a lot of the 12 months.
McAvoy stepped up and confirmed he was able to fill the skates of Zdeno Chara. He’s a real two-way defenseman that each group wants. Grzelcyk is a talented number-two, who suits the mould of Torey Krug. He was quiet for a lot of the season, although, as a result of a number of stints on the harm report.
Reilly and Brandon Carlo make up the second half of a formidable top-four. Carlo is that this unit’s stabilizer. His return from a number of upper-body accidents is big for the Bruins transferring ahead, and his associate Reilly supplies some much-needed offense. He and Grzelcyk are essentially the most polished on that finish.
After these 4, there’s a noticeable drop in talent and manufacturing. Kevan Miller has managed to keep away from main harm and performed his enforcer position effectively, however he doesn’t convey a lot else to the desk. Clifton has silenced some doubters this season, main the group in hits and incomes a plus-10 ranking, which is third amongst defensemen behind McAvoy and Grzelcyk.
Jeremy Lauzon has proven some good chemistry with McAvoy and Miller, however he spends approach an excessive amount of time within the penalty field and nonetheless makes rookie errors. Jakub Zboril was despatched again to the Windfall Bruins halfway by the season, which was the precise transfer, however he’s been a growing prospect since 2015. How rather more time can we give him?
Different names like Jarred Tinordi, Steven Kampfer, and John Moore performed a couple of video games, however they had been simply placeholders for injured starters and didn’t do a lot else. Moore has been on the IR since February. Tinordi and Kampfer will doubtless signal elsewhere within the offseason.
All in all, Boston’s blue line was comparatively common within the common season. The grade will surely have been greater if not for the harm bug, however we can’t ignore that issue. The highest 4 hasn’t performed collectively a lot, and there’s numerous uncertainty after that. Some tough choices must be made with this group in the summertime.
Key Gamers: Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly, Curtis Lazar, Trent Frederic
Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are each nonetheless elite gamers on the heart place. Bergeron is just not solely the center and soul of the group however the group chief in plus/minus (plus-27) as effectively. Krejci’s numbers had been underwhelming for a lot of the season, however that was largely as a result of inconsistency on the wings. He has been nothing however spectacular because the commerce deadline. Nothing damaging involves thoughts about these two proper now.
The opposite facilities have completed their jobs unselfishly and persistently. Sean Kuraly, Charlie Coyle, Curtis Lazar, and Trent Frederic are all nice suits for head coach Bruce Cassidy’s recreation plan, contributing to the all-important faceoff recreation and killing a ton of penalties. Don’t let their plus/minus rankings idiot you – the rankings are certain to be damaging, with how a lot shorthanded time these guys spend on the ice.
The defensive prowess of this group actually helped choose up the slack on the blue line. We give loads of credit score to Bergeron and Krejci, however these different guys have been the unsung heroes of the common season. Sure, Coyle has disillusioned on the offensive finish (and this bumps the group’s grade down a bit), however there’s a superb cause he was by no means benched. He’s simply too precious in all the opposite sides of the sport.
Regardless of all the great this group did, the scoring was merely non-existent outdoors of Bergeron and Krejci, so this bumps them right down to a B+. If Coyle and Kuraly contribute any form of scoring depth within the playoffs, the Bruins shall be unstoppable.
Proper Wings: C+
Key Gamers: David Pastrnak, Craig Smith, Chris Wagner, Ondrej Kase, Karson Kuhlman
That is an attention-grabbing group. David Pastrnak is arguably essentially the most proficient proper winger within the league, however he didn’t fairly play prefer it this season. Don’t get me incorrect – he has been passable, however not as dynamic as in years previous. He went by a scoring stoop late within the season, however fortunately Craig Smith picked up the slack.
The previous Nashville Predator has been excellent because the commerce deadline. With that being mentioned, when taking a look at his regular-season efficiency as an entire, he was quiet for a lot of the 12 months. The addition of Smith was supposed to deal with the Bruins’ lack of scoring depth, however he didn’t dwell as much as that expectation till Taylor Corridor got here alongside.
Chris Wagner is a precious participant on the penalty kill, and he mixes it up on the boards. For these causes, he’ll in all probability discover himself within the lineup within the first spherical in opposition to Washington. We’ve seen higher years from him offensively, however he performs his position effectively.
Ondrej Kase hardly performed in any respect this 12 months. His absence hurts the precise wing’s general grade due to his anticipated top-six position and the way a lot the Bruins gave as much as get him. Hopefully, his most up-to-date harm isn’t severe, and he can see a while within the playoffs. The speedy Karson Kuhlman may additionally see some playoff time if Boston ought to meet the Pittsburgh Penguins, however he didn’t do something price mentioning within the common season.
This group largely underwhelmed for a lot of the season, however Pasta’s 48 factors and Smith’s post-deadline resurrection is sufficient to give them a C+ grade – good, however not nice. All Boston actually wants is 2 succesful scorers at this place, and so they definitely have them.
Left Wings: A-
Key Gamers: Brad Marchand, Taylor Corridor, Nick Ritchie, Jake DeBrusk
Brad Marchand’s efficiency this 12 months – 69 factors in 53 video games – has solidified his standing because the best-left winger within the NHL. Artemi Panarin and Leon Draisaitl may be extra proficient scorers, however neither of them does extra for his group than Marchand. He’ll get votes for each the Hart and Selke Trophies.
Nick Ritchie has additionally completed his half this season, giving the group some much-needed scoring depth with 15 objectives and an additional hand on the ability play. He additionally confirmed some good chemistry with Coyle and Kuraly in the previous couple of weeks of the season. That line could be a bodily power within the playoffs. Taylor Corridor took Ritchie’s spot on the second line, helped spark a late-season profitable streak, and has turned his profession round within the span of 1 month.
Different heart/wing hybrids like Kuraly and Frederic stuffed in seamlessly on the left-wing once they wanted to. This can be a good luxurious to have, and it definitely paid off this 12 months, with the quantity of accidents and lineup adjustments the Bruins went by.
Jake DeBrusk didn’t impress offensively, however he was nonetheless plus-1 on the 12 months and confirmed defensive enchancment on the penalty kill. He additionally helped win a few shootouts, which made the distinction within the Bruins getting the three-seed and a extra favorable matchup in opposition to the Capitals. He doesn’t harm the grade all that a lot. If he may regain his confidence, this might be the most effective place group on the group, from prime to backside.
Bruins Primed for Playoffs
To be clear: this can be a regular-season report card. It has no bearing on how I believe the Bruins will carry out within the playoffs. Even for those who disagree with this listing, we are able to all agree on one factor: the Bruins aren’t only a playoff group. The commerce deadline additions have elevated them from pretenders to contenders. Las Vegas agrees because the Bruins have the most effective odds to win the Cup out of any group within the MassMutual East Division.
Boston has a real championship-caliber roster: hardened veterans, younger sparkplugs, scoring depth at every ahead place, measurement/physicality, a few go-to defensemen, and a wholesome, skilled goaltender. Whereas their common season definitely may have gone higher, that highway is behind them. The highway to the Stanley Cup lies forward, and the Bruins are primed for a deep playoff run.
I cowl the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. Fan of all issues New England sports activities.