Is Brad Marchand one of the elite goal scorers in the NHL?
That’s a question that’s been floating around during the Bruins’ 2013 season, which hit the halfway point Tuesday night after a loss in Pittsburgh.
It’s one that would’ve been received with a scoff three or four days before this season started, never mind three or four years ago as Marchand was working his way from junior hockey to the professional ranks.
Now he’s not only leading the team in goal scoring but is among the league leaders. Fresh off seasons of 21 and 28 goals, Marchand is scoring at a 44-goal pace (12 goals in 23 games) for a full 82-game season. Marchand has clearly been one of the biggest highlights of the Bruins’ forwards’ season.
Here’s a midseason report card on each Boston forward through 24 games:
Talk about a guy transforming himself. Agitating and killing penalties – things Marchand still does equally well compared to his first couple NHL seasons – are now afterthoughts in relation to his ability to score, get shots on net and create offense for his linemates with his speed.
The reigning Selke Trophy winner as the best defensive forward in the NHL leads the Bruins in points and hasn’t slacked off one bit in the defensive end. He’s still a plus-18 and he’s been a force in all situations for Boston while centering what might actually be the first, not the second, line.
It took Seguin until the Bruins’ ninth game to score a goal against an opposing goaltender. Since then he’s found his groove (he has nine goals in 24 games) and continued to improve his defensive play to go along with his blossoming offense. He could still stand to get his nose a little dirtier on the attack.
After a fast start, Lucic’s offensive numbers have tailed off. He’s still been a physical force, so he just needs to finish a little more. With three fighting majors he’s already halfway to last season’s total.
As the player most often identified as the Bruins’ No. 1 center, Krejci makes you want even more than he gives – even when he’s among the Bruins’ leaders in points and has been consistent enough to score at least one point in all but seven games this season. Maybe it’s because of the Bruins’ power-play struggles. Nonetheless, Krejci has been productive most of the season.
Any fears that Horton wouldn’t return to form after his second concussion in a year were put to rest with a physical and productive start to this season. However, he’s tailed off in both areas. Maybe it’s because a healthy Horton is typically a streaky Horton. He’ll need to get back on his 25-goal pace in the second half.
You can’t fail a guy who’s an integral part of the best penalty kill in the NHL – a unit that’s kept the Bruins afloat on a few of their off nights. Nonetheless, the Bruins need more than eight points from Peverley, who also has to get his plus/minus on the right side of the ledger.
Basically, you can take Peverley’s explanation and repeat it here. No one expects Kelly to repeat his 20-goal pace of a year ago, but the Bruins need points and less goals against from their third-line center – assuming he gets healthy. Boston’s hoping a change on left wing will help both Kelly and Peverley thrive again.
The concussion that kept him out of two games obviously slowed Thornton’s start to the season. As he and his linemates have gotten more involved, Thornton has been able to fill his role better even in fewer minutes than he’s played in years.
No one expected to get five goals out of Paille by this point in the season. Yet it still feels like he should finish more. He’s done well the couple times he’s move up the depth chart. But Boston needs him to keep providing solid two-way play on the fourth line going forward.
While Paille’s been finishing, Campbell still always seems snake-bit when he gets his chances. He’s a minus on the season as well, so in the second half he’s going to have to get that back up on the right side of the ledger.
While he showed he was ready to play in the NHL full-time, Bourque also showed he wasn’t a fit for the Bruins’ third line. He’s probably not a fit anywhere in Boston’s lineup and would be better suited lacing up his skates for a team with lower expectations and more job openings. One goal scored in 18 games wrote Bourque’s ticket back to Providence.
Jay Pandolfo: Has looked surprisingly fleet of foot and should be a solid fill-in for the stretch run.
Lane MacDermid: Young player has proven he can play in addition to his tough-guy duties and might come in handy when injuries hit.
Jordan Caron: This is the first-round pick’s best chance to establish himself as a full-time NHLer. Boston’s third line might be the perfect place for him.
Jamie Tardif: Long-time AHLer didn’t look out of place providing energy on the fourth line.
Ryan Spooner: One of Boston’s top prospects might get a longer look depending on Kelly’s status. A playmaker that should be ready to chip in.