Bruins third-quarter grades: the forwards

Bergeron/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.

A balanced bunch that has to work extra hard to generate the necessary offense that’ll make the league’s best defense – in terms of goals against — count for something, the Bruins’ forwards have suffered their fair share of ups and downs.

That said, Boston’s offense is fifth-best in the league in terms of goals for, and that’s with a power play that’s struggled to stay in the top half of the NHL rankings.

Here are my third-quarter grades for the forwards:

Patrice Bergeron

First-quarter grade: B

Midseason grade: A-minus

Third-quarter grade: A

There has been no presence in the Bruins’ top 12 that’s been as consistent as Bergeron, who has added offensive upside (he leads the team with 50 points) without diminishing his value as a shutdown center. He wins tons of draws and does so much great work in the corners and behind the net that doesn’t show up on the score sheet.

David Krejci

First-quarter grade: B-minus

Midseason grade: C

Third-quarter grade: B

It’s amazing how far Krejci has come since midseason, when he looked like a shell of his former self. He has been so hot the last few weeks, he is now second on the team in scoring and is nearly contributing at a point-per-game pace for the season. Maybe he just needed to shake out the cobwebs for a while after his concussion or had to be inspired by Marc Savard’s loss, but Krejci looks ready to make this year’s stretch run his ultimate coming-out party as a legit No. 1 center.

Milan Lucic

First-quarter grade: A-minus

Midseason grade: B

Third-quarter grade: B-plus

We’re finally seeing the all-around play of a blossoming power forward we thought we were going to see from Lucic this season. He, like his first-line running mates, had a few dry weeks. But he leads the team with 27 goals. Although some claim he’s not as physical, I’d argue he’s picking his spots better and still forechecking effectively. As far as fighting, it’s hard to drop the gloves when most would-be challengers are afraid of you. Now Lucic has to prove he can be a consistent scorer down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Recchi/By S. Bradley

Mark Recchi

First-quarter grade: B

Midseason grade: B-plus

Third-quarter grade: B

There are nights Recchi doesn’t register a shot on goal and games where he doesn’t even record a point. Yet, there he is at fourth on the Bruins’ scoring chart. And even when he’s not scoring, he contributes so well on the forecheck and in the defensive zone that he never seems to hurt the Bruins. Maybe he could take the initiative a little more to get this power play cranking again, but otherwise it’s been another solid all-around season for the future Hall-of-Famer.

Nathan Horton

First-quarter grade: B-plus

Midseason grade: C-plus

Third-quarter grade: B-minus

At this rate, they’re going to have to remake the move “The Fighter” and make it about Horton. It seems his goal-scoring pace only picks up when he’s had a couple scraps. Although he’s still going to fall short of that 30-goal target from the preseason, Horton has picked it up over the last several weeks and could keep a passing grade for the season if he keeps not only finishing with the puck but also finishing his checks.

Michael Ryder

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