The Bruins will enter this weekend with just one player among the top 50 NHL scorers, as Patrice Bergeron is right around 30th.
If you pro-rated David Krejci’s point total to make up for the games he has missed, he would also rank in the top 30. Only one Bruins player, Milan Lucic, is in the top 40 in goals. As a team, the Bruins started today ranked fourth in goals per game.
So considering Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli’s comments about making just a “minor” deal if he does anything between today and Monday’s trade deadline, I wondered how the Bruins’ balanced offense compares to the offenses of 20 teams that have reached the Stanley Cup semifinals in the five seasons since the lockout. After all, it seems the Bruins’ top six to nine forwards will consist of the same personnel by this time Monday evening.
I did not take into account injuries to key players, including Sidney Crosby, who was so limited in 2007-08 he finished 31st in scoring. I also didn’t factor in how these teams ranked defensively during the regular season.
Seven of the 20 teams that have reached the final four have done so without a scorer in the top 20. But every Cup winner has had a points-producer no worse than 11th in the Art Ross Trophy race. Teemu Selanne finished 11th in scoring while leading the ’07 Cup champion Anaheim Ducks in scoring. As a team, that Ducks squad is the only one to not finish in the top six in goals per game, as Anaheim was eighth.
Every other Cup winner has had at least one scorer in the top 10. The Cup runners-up, however, run the gamut. Last year’s Philadelphia Flyers and the 2006 Edmonton Oilers, both largely considered to be Cinderella teams, didn’t place a player higher than 34th (Ales Hemsky for the Oilers).
Oddly, only two of the five Cup winners placed two players in the top 25 in goals (’09 Pittsburgh, ’08 Detroit). Last season, Patrick Kane finished just 19 in goals and Jonathan Toews was 49th for the champion Chicago Blackhawks. The second-leading goal-scorer for the ’07 Ducks and ’06 Carolina Hurricanes, ranked 47th (Dustin Penner) and 35th (Justin Williams) behind top-10 goals scorers (Selanne and Eric Staal).
Six of the 20 semifinalists failed to place more than two players (and in some cases had just one) among the top 60 goal-scorers. With Brad Marchand’s hot hand, he has joined Bergeron and Lucic among the NHL top 60.
Barring a historic hot streak by Bergeron or Krejci, the Bruins would be trying to buck a major trend this spring by winning the Cup without an elite points-producer. But as far as reaching the final four and bettering their playoff finish of the last two seasons, the Bruins don’t necessarily need an elite scorer to combine with their all-world goaltending and defensive stinginess. Teams with balanced scoring without one or two players that challenge for the Art Ross in recent years have at least gotten one step from the Cup final, and some have made the final.
Having an elite scorer on the roster would definitely give you reason to breathe easier about the Bruins’ chances. But you can’t count them out just because there’s no Brad Richards, Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos in black and gold.