Quarter-pole report card: the forwards

Horton/By S. Bradley

The NHL season has crossed the quarter pole, so it’s time to grade each Bruins player before they start the season’s second quarter in Atlanta Sunday night.

The offense was the Bruins’ weak link last season, and general manager Peter Chiarelli knew he had to revamp his forward corps in order to improve the club’s scoring.

With the trade for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell, and the drafting of Tyler Seguin, Chiarelli made the necessary maneuvers. But the longer-than-expected rehabilitation of Marco Sturm’s knee and the training-camp revelation that Marc Savard was suffering from post-concussion syndrome set Boston back again the goal-creation department.

However, while Marco Sturm was expected to be out for a while, Marc Savard’s surprise revelation at the start of training camp that he was suffering from post-concussion syndrome added to Boston’s challenge to improve up front.

Thus far, the Bruins have at least escaped the basement of the NHL goals-per-game rankings, as they entered Saturday night’s play 18th. Obviously, they must be better to have a chance at a top seed in Eastern Conference and a strong chance to go deep in the playoffs. The forwards have again formed a solid defensive group, and aided the challenged defense corps in terms of getting the puck out of the defensive zone, but too often the necessary finish has been absent.

Here are the grades:

Milan Lucic: A-minus

We’re finally seeing the all-around, healthy Lucic the Bruins expected to see when they re-signed the young winger to a multi-year contract extension last fall. He leads the team in goals (10) and shares the points lead with Horton (18). Lucic has come up big in the clutch (three game-winning goals) and has been consistent. He has also been the physical presence the team needs, including a couple fights, most nights. But the Bruins need him to be a menace around the net and on the forecheck even more often.

Nathan Horton: B-plus

After a red-hot start, Horton has cooled off a bit over the last eight games. He is still tied for the team lead in points, but his 49 shots are not enough considering his ice time and his power-play duties. If he would just look for his shot more and use his body more often to create some space, he’d be more helpful to the Bruins’ cause.

Mark Recchi: B

It’s difficult to determine the standard Recchi should be held to. After all, he’s a future Hall-of-Famer, but he’s playing at 42 among a league dominated by guys that were in diapers when he broke into the league. The Bruins need him to do more to both score (just four goals) and help create offense for his teammates, especially on the so-far-disappointing power play. But no one plays harder every night.

Bergeron/By S. Bradley

Patrice Bergeron: B

It took the center seven games to score his first goal of the season, and he still has scored just three thus far. He makes up for that by leading the forward corps in shorthanded ice time (for the league’s best PK) and winning 52.8 percent of his faceoffs. But the Bruins need more offense out of Bergeron, especially while he’s centering Lucic and Horton.

Michael Ryder: B

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