Chara/By S. Bradley

The first 82 games are in the books. Now the games really count. Before the start of the playoffs, here’s a look at how the Bruins graded out during the regular season.

While the Bruins might’ve boasted the best defenseman in the entire NHL on their back end all season, their defense corps as a group had a roller-coaster season at both ends of the rink.

The Bruins’ system, however, continued to play to most of the individuals’ strengths on the back end, and the defensemen chipped in for Boston’s 2.30 goals-against total (second-best in the NHL) and at the offensive end.

Here are the final regular-season report cards for the Bruins’ defensemen

Zdeno Chara

First-quarter grade: A

Midseason grade: B

Third-quarter grade: A-minus

Final grade: A

He didn’t set a career high for points or even finish in the top 15 among NHL defenseman in scoring. Still, 44 points is a pretty impressive total for a guy who was plus-33 while averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game and matching up against the cream of the crop of the league’s snipers. The way Chara handled the aftermath of the Max Pacioretty Affair while hardly losing any of his edge from his play showed not only his elite status as a player but also validated him as the team’s emotional leader. No one puts the team ahead of himself more than Chara. A second Norris Trophy in three years should be on its way in order to put him in the conversation for fourth-best defenseman in franchise history.

Dennis Seidenberg

First-quarter grade: B-plus

Midseason grade: B-minus

Third-quarter grade: B

Final grade: B-minus

If you were grading Seidenberg based on living up to his No. 2 defenseman salary, you’d probably have to be harder on him. But as they say, you can’t blame the player for taking the money. Seidenberg led the team in blocked shots and set a new career high with 31 points. His struggles moving the puck out of his own end and working the point on the power play contributed to general manager Peter Chiarelli’s desire to up the ante in pursuit of Tomas Kaberle. Seidenberg needed to contribute more at the offensive end and do a better job of deciding when to go for the block and when to let the goaltender see the shot. That he managed to play 81 games with his rugged style was quite an accomplishment.

Ference/By S. Bradley

Andrew Ference

First-quarter grade: B

Midterm grade: B-plus

Third-quarter grade: B-plus

Final grade: B-plus

Fears that Ference’s fragility would prevent him from contributing the way the Bruins needed after re-signing him last spring were mostly allayed, as Ference logged 69 games – his most since 2006-07. While he was best-suited to playing on the third pair, Ference held down the fort well in the top four when Johnny Boychuk was injured. Ference struggled the last couple weeks of the season but was still plus-22 with three goals (his most since 2005-06).

Adam McQuaid

First-quarter grade: B

Midseason grade: B

Third-quarter grade: A

Final grade: A-minus

The rigors of his first full NHL season obviously took their toll on “Darth Quaider” who was a hitting and shot-blocking machine up until the last few weeks of the season. He was obviously banged up. But his emergence as a reliable third-pair D who could hold his own in the top four for stretches not only helped the Bruins on the ice but made Chiarelli’s maneuvering a little easier. He even found an offensive upside few knew he had to go along with his plus-30 rating.

Boychuk/By S. Bradley

Johnny Boychuk

First-quarter grade: B

Midterm grade: C-minus

Third-quarter grade: C-minus

Final grade: C

In return for the faith they showed in him with a contract extension and more minutes, the Bruins were hoping for improvements from Boychuk in his second full NHL season. Instead they got the same 15 points with not enough of the physical side he made his name with as a rookie. Boychuk struggled with coverage in his own end and went through a stretch where his poor decision-making even landed him in the press box as a healthy scratch. The 2009-10 version of Boychuk showed up a couple more times in the final month of the season than in the entire previous five months. With a shot like Boychuk’s, there have to be more than just three goals on the sheet by the end of the season.

Steven Kampfer

First-quarter grade: None

Midterm grade: B-plus

Third-quarter grade: B

Final grade: B-minus

You don’t want to be too hard on the kid because we all know it could take two or three full NHL seasons before a player establishes himself as a legit blueliner at the game’s highest level. But Kampfer’s play really tailed off after a flying start. That confidence that was oozing out of him at the start of his stint in Boston tapered off and he struggled moving the puck regardless of where he had it. The game in Nashville, where he screened and then blocked Tuukka Rask’s efforts to make a couple saves, clinched his status as “not ready for primetime.” Still, five goals in 38 games is a pretty impressive total for a kid one year removed from college.

Tomas Kaberle

First-quarter grade: None

Midterm grade: None

Third-quarter grade: Incomplete

Final grade: B

The power-play savior didn’t deliver, but he can’t take all the blame for Boston’s man-advantage struggles even after his arrival. Kaberle produced nine points (one goal) in 24 games with Boston, which is a decent total when you consider that if anyone could finish on the power play he probably adds five or six more points to his ledger. Although he was sometimes caught out of position in his own end and continued his reputation as one of the most gun-shy blueliners around, Kaberle was a solid fit for the Bruins’ defense corps and alleviated some of the pressure off a couple Bruins defensemen that were being asked to do a little too much before the trade.

Shane Hnidy

First-quarter grade: None

Midterm grade: None

Third-quarter grade: None

Final grade: Incomplete

Three games played do not a grade-able season make. But at the very least Hnidy joined the Bruins for little cash and provided another sane, veteran voice for the locker room. For that, he’s been an A fit.