Bruins third-quarter grades: the defensemen

Chara/By S. Bradley

With 19 games remaining in the regular season, it’s time to grade the Bruins’ players’ performance through three quarters of the 2010-11 season.

Despite some suspect play in their own end from their blueliners, the Bruins have been at or near the top of the league in goals allowed all season long.

The team has benefited from the development of a couple kids and sold teamwork. Now with Tomas Kaberle in the mix after the trade with Toronto, this group is more well-rounded and should be an asset to the club down the stretch.

Here are my third-quarter grades for the defensemen:

Zdeno Chara

First-quarter grade: A

Midseason grade: B

Third-quarter grade: A-minus

The Norris Trophy talk has heated up again for Chara, who as the anchor of the league’s best defense deserves a lot of the credit for the team’s success in its own end. With 10 goals and a plus-21 rating, it’s hard to ask for much more from the captain, except maybe a little more consistency offensively on the power play. He might’ve been wearing down a bit, and he has to adapt to several different partners, but he seems to have gotten his second wind.

Dennis Seidenberg

First-quarter grade: B-plus

Midseason grade: B-minus

Third-quarter grade: B

It’s been a season of adaptation for Seidenberg, who skated with Chara last season after he was acquired and this year has been asked to thrive on his own pair. While moving back and forth between the left side and the right, he has been a rock most nights. He sometimes gets a little lax with the puck below his own goal line, but for the most part he has made up for it with his shot-blocking and physical presence.

Andrew Ference

First-quarter grade: B

Midterm grade: B-plus

Third-quarter grade: B-plus

You just knew the injury bug was going to bite at some point. Now it’s a matter of how long Ference will be out. The Bruins finally have enough depth to play Ference on their third pair, which considering how well he has fared in the top four should be a cakewalk for the veteran. He could still stand to contribute a little more to the offense, but he’s been as reliable as they come this season.

McQuaid/By S. Bradley

Adam McQuaid

First-quarter grade: B

Midseason grade: B

Third-quarter grade: A

There are several remarkable stories on this Bruins team, and the emergence of “Darth Quaider” as not just a solid defensive presence and semi-regular member of the top four but an offensive contributor, is one of the best. McQuaid leads the team at plus-27 and he’s no longer just “keeping it simple,” he’s making plays that are causing opposing defenses fits.

Johnny Boychuk

First-quarter grade: B

Midterm grade: C-minus

Third-quarter grade: C-minus

Down the stretch, a couple February healthy scratches might turn out to be the turning point in Boychuk’s season. He has already shown signs of improvement. Nonetheless, his second full NHL season has been full of growing pains, as Boychuk has struggled to make strong decisions and utilize his shot to make an impact on a nightly basis. He has to keep his physicality level where it’s been the last few games for the final 19.

Steven Kampfer

First-quarter grade: None

Midterm grade: B-plus

Third-quarter grade: B

Oh that rookie wall. In Kampfer’s case, it wasn’t a wall made of raggedness from the schedule but made of forechecks that have caused him to doubt himself and hurry up his decision-making process. Like Matt Hunwick before him, Kampfer has struggled as his ice time has been reduced (he’s been scratched a couple times) and the time he’s spent on the ice hasn’t always been with Boston’s top six forwards. While you don’t want to put too many restrictions on a guy with Kampfer’s skill set, the Bruins are going to have to get him to simplify his play in order to avoid having him hurt them when he’s in the lineup while Ference is out.

Tomas Kaberle

First-quarter grade: None

Midterm grade: None

Third-quarter grade: Incomplete

You can already see how he’s helping the power play move the puck and be a threat, even if the Bruins haven’t cashed in much yet. He has also held his own in the defensive zone. We’ll see how he holds up against some of the league’s better offenses as the playoff race unfolds.

Page 1 of 3 | Next page