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How did the forwards fare this year compared to my expectations?

April 12, 2011

In October I thought that the Bruins offense would rebound a lot but not be the driving force it was two years ago. Essentially, I was right in that as the offense finished fifth in the league in goals. What I didn’t realize was that the Bruins would benefit from depth scoring as much as they did. The least consistent part of the Bruins came up as the most surprising.

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RW Nathan Horton– The newly-acquired Bruin has flown under the radar this summer because of Tyler Seguin and because he went relatively unseen in Florida, but the kid can play. He’s a big-bodied skill player who fits the Bruins mold quite nicely. He gives the B’s a definite first line goal-scorer who will also bring a physical presence and consistent productivity. He’s always scored 20+ goals in Florida, doing it mainly by himself, so he should improve with a better team around him. I don’t think that Horton will continue to fly under the casual Bruins fans radar when the season starts. He will turn some heads. Projected Stats: 31-35-66.

Horton wasn’t the goal-scoring dynamo I thought he would be but his numbers did come close to my predictions. If he hadn’t taken so many games off in the heart of the schedule, he probably would have got to 30 goals. Horton had 10 games with zero shots on goal and another 18 games with only one shot on net. Horts only potted six power-play goals, explaining much of the Bruins problems on the power-play. Actual Stats: 26-27-53.

C David Krejci– Krejci showed how good he can be and how important he is in the playoffs last season and it seems to have fueled him in the off-season. Krejci has been vocal about wanting to be the best center on the team and a lot of people think that he one day will be. Krejci is essentially a hybrid between Bergeron and Savard with the ability to do it all. It’s all been a question of support with Krejci. Well, this year he’ll get a chance at the first line out of the shoot with Savard hurt. I don’t think that he’ll keep the first line when Savard is healthy but he’ll damn near challenge for it. If Claude Julien can find the right pairing for him he could challenge for top production on the team. Projected Stats: 18-45-63.

The Bruins top point-getter (tied with Milan Lucic) was an easy prediction with Marc Savard on the shelf. I thought he’d score a few more goals but his points were there at the end of the day. I’d still love Krejci to shoot a little more in space but he’s the most gifted Bruins center and is their best creator of offense by a long shot. Krejci had 29 points in his 32 games after the All-Star break, which is encouraging but his five games in April only produced one point, which is concerning. Actual Stats: 13-49-62.

LW Milan Lucic– Lucic had a disappointing year both physically and productively. He should bounce back a little this season but our dreams of grandeur with Lucic could be proving themselves to be out of reach. I like Lucic, but I don’t see him being a consistent point-getter. He should benefit from being on the first line, but he hasn’t been reliable there in the past. He’ll get some dirty goals and being a force along the boards but it might be time to drop the illusion of ‘ultimate power forward’. Projected Stats: 14-22-36.

Lucic, along with Brad Marchand, was the runaway most surprising Bruins forward by a country mile. I was down on Looch coming into the year, I thought he had no hands and touch. I guess I didn’t understand how much he was hurt. Lucic broke through in a big way and was the first Bruins 30-goal scorer since Phil Kessel. Actual Stats: 30-32-62.

RW Mark Recchi– Recchi just missed his 17th season with at least 20 goals by 2 goals last season. Old Faithful also showed no signs of slowing down last season and I don’t expect him to slow down much this season either. He’s found a great center in Patrice Bergeron and still has the hands to tip home some goals in front of the net and put home loose pucks. He’ll also be an instrumental leader in the room and he’ll be a great mentor to Tyler Seguin. His intangibles are invaluable and he’s not a slouch on the ice either. Projected Stats: 18-27-45.

Recchi netted over 40 points for the 21st time in his career, a remarkable feat. Recchi seemed to break an NHL record every week for the Bruins this season and was a stalwart on the Bruins productive second line. He’s been a great influence on Brad Marchand and a terrific leader. Old Man Recchi played in 81 games this season at 42-43 years old and he was the Bruins fifth point producer this year. Unbelievable. Actual Stats: 14-34-48.

C Patrice Bergeron– The 25-year-old is the second-longest tenured Bruin on the roster and the most consistent forward in all three zones on the roster. From what I’ve heard and seen this pre-season, Bergeron is looking better than ever on offense. Last year, he led the team with 52 points while still shaking the effects of his horrific concussion. Bergeron, like every other Bruin, was hot and cold last year but I have reason to believe that he will be a 60-70 point getter this season. It’ll be interesting to see who Bergeron’s other wing will be this year (aside from Recchi) but if he finds a finisher, he could have a renaissance. I also think, he’ll finish with more goals than Bruins fans are used to. Projected Stats: 24-42-66.

I had really high hopes for Patrice coming into the year. I even boasted to friends that he’d get 70 points this year with unparalleled confidence. Well, I was wrong. Not to say Bergeron didn’t play well, however. I thought we’d see a healthy Bergeron return to be a point-per-game player but he was considerably less than that. I still think Bergeron is the Bruins most well-rounded player. If the Bruins had a more potent winger, his assist numbers would have been better. Actual Stats: 22-35-57.

LW Jordan Caron– It looks like Caron will make the Bruins opening day roster, and I think that that is a good thing. Caron brings some size and skill to the lineup and seems to be deserving of a roster spot based on his performance thus far. The former first round pick has adapted to the NHL game pretty well and will appear in the NHL a year before many expected him to. He is probably going to be a third liner for most of the year but he may be on the second line to start. If he’s not ready he could go back to Providence to marinate so it’s hard to say how big a role he will play this season. Projected Stats: 10-18-28.

Hey, Caron didn’t really play that much this year, huh? Mark that down as a swing and a miss. So I’ll use this space to talk about Marchand. Marchand was one of only four Bruins to score 20+ goals. Who saw that coming before this season? Marchand’s transformed himself from pest to viable offensive player and penalty-killer. We’ll see if Marchand evolves into a goal-scorer or recesses into a pest. One-hit wonder or just a good player? We’ll see. Caron’s Actual Stats: 3-4-7.

RW Michael Ryder– Ah, Michael Ryder. The lament of Bruins fans far and wide. The sniper who was but isn’t. I don’t expect much from Ryder (to tell you the truth I don’t think he’ll be here by Christmas). He’ll be buried on the third line, the lowest place he can fit on the roster, and although he will have the benefit of an above-average center, he won’t produce as his contract seems to assume he will. Projected Stats: 15-18-33.

The optimist in me thought that Ryder would swing together a nice season in a contract year, the pessimist in me saw a hole in the Bruins lineup. Ryder’s actual season was somewhere in the middle. Ryder’s famously streaky and some scratches by Claude Julien seemed to help him out. He didn’t score in the whole month of March and was relegated to third and fourth line duty at times. Ryder won’t be back next season and that’s for the best for both parties. Actual Stats: 18-23-41.

C Tyler Seguin– Boston’s latest crush will most likely hit the ice as a center with Marc Savard being sidelined as he recovers from PCS. I’d much rather see him learn the NHL game at wing, but the depth chart points to a need at center, so center he shall be. I think he’ll have a far better first year than Joe Thornton did in Boston because of the team around him. Bruins fans have lofty expectations for the young’n, some of which may be unreachable but I think he will fit in fine. Projected Stats: 18-30-48.

Even the most realistic hockey fans didn’t see Seguin struggling this much. In a sense it was good for him to learn without many repercussions but his lack of development has been a concer. Seguin hasn’t adapted to the physical style of the NHL and found himself scratched in eight games. Seguin’s upside is still very high but some are beginning to worry about him being Kessel 2.0 Actual Stats: 11-11-22.

LW Blake Wheeler– Wheeler, much like Ryder, has never lived up to the hype. He was given a one-year deal in the off-season, a move that I didn’t exactly agree with. Not to boast, but I thought you could get similar production from Caron or Joe Colborne. Wheeler is playing in a contract year, but then again, he was last year as well so don’t necessarily expect a contract year from Wheeler. If Wheeler doesn’t improve greatly you could see the Bruins move on. Projected Stats: 18-20-38.

Wheeler had a very Wheeler-like season, scoring sparingly and frustrating Bruins fans. He was ultimately traded where he went on to have good numbers in Atlanta which got me thinking, ‘is it the Bruins system that holds players back?’. His separation was good for both sides as Wheeler was rapidly becoming a whipping boy in Boston. Actual Stats: 18-26-44.

RW Shawn Thornton– Thornton is the Bruins quintessential tough guy. Not much more than fisticuffs, but not a black hole on the ice. It’s about all you can ask for. He’s beloved in the room and I don’t mind him on my fourth line, especially seeing what anemic players the Bruins have had on the checking line in the past. Projected Stats: 3-6-9.

The Quiet Man had his loudest season in his career, reaching a career high in goals and points. Thornton greatly benefitted from Gregory Campbell’s arrival on the fourth line, which has been surprisingly productive, so much so that the line was spread out over the lineup because of their productivity. Thornton also led the team in penalty minutes, mainly through fisticuffs. Actual Stats: 10-10-20.

C Gregory Campbell– Campbell was a throw-in for the Horton deal but a pretty good throw-in. He’s still young, he’s a competent penalty-killer. He’ll be measured up against Steve Begin, which means that by default, he is already better than Steve Begin. Along with Paille, he’ll shore of the fourth line with speed and grit and add to the penalty-kill. Projected Stats: 6-14-20.

Remember Steve Begin? He brought down my expectations in what a fourth line center could be. Soupie made me realize just how good a fourth liner center could be. It’s even been joked that Nathan Horton was a throw-in for Gregory Campbell. He’s been that good. He’s been a great penalty-killer and a great creator on the fourth line. Actual Stats: 13-16-29.

LW Daniel Paille- Paille was a nice role player last year for the Bruins. Once he joined the team the PK found its footing and was stout for the rest of the season. He can be frustrating to watch on offense because he’s so fast but lacks the ability to finish. Which is probably why he’s on the fourth line. He will bring speed and tenacity and will alter game plans on the forecheck. Projected Stats: 10-14-24.

Paille is a frustrating player for Bruins fans. He’s a former first round draft pick who lacks every skill besides speed. Recently he has been a good player, ending the season with four points in his last five games. Paille’s speed is a great asset, especially late in the season when he has fresh legs but not much is expected of him. And that’s Paille’s greatest asset. Actual Stats: 6-7-13.

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