Bruins grades: High marks for first line
Bruins report card -- First line
Final grades are in for the 2011-2012 Boston Bruins. We'll start with the first line.
|PLAYER||SEASON AND PLAYOFF RECAP/GRADE|
So much for sophomore slumps. Marchand followed up a 21-goal and 41-point season in 2010-11 with an even better season in 2011-12. The pesky winger scored 28 goals to go along with 27 assists and was a plus 31. Marchand also continued to walk that fine line of being an effective agitator without putting his team in a bad spot by ending up in the penalty box. In fact, toward the end of the season and in the playoffs -- where he struggled with just a goal and an assist -- Marchand put too much emphasis on goal scoring rather than being the pest that made him effective in the past. He did not play like himself and that seemed to diminish his overall performance.
Bergeron was hands down the team MVP for the Bruins in the 2011-12 season. The Selke Trophy Award nominee showed his offensive flair and became arguably the best two-way forward in the NHL. Bergeron scored 22 goals for the third time in his career and had 42 helpers. He was also a plus 36, which led the NHL. But what might have been even more valuable to the team than his stats was how he influenced Marchand and Seguin, helping them to become more complete players. It was no shocker to learn that Bergeron played through the grueling pain of a torn oblique muscle for the last three games of the seven-game series loss to the Capitals. Bergeron is what every head coach wants in a player and that was on full display this season.
After what he admitted was a difficult transition and learning experience in his rookie season, when he had 11 goals and 11 assists in 74 games in 2010-11, Seguin became a more complete player this season. As a result, his pure offensive talent was able to blossom. Seguin led the team in goals with 29 and points with 67. While that was a glimpse into what looks like a bright future for the second overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, the more impressive sign came with the development of Seguin on and off the ice. Yes, there was the alarm clock issue in Winnipeg and his one-game suspension by the team back in December, but talking to many veterans on the team after that incident, there was a general consensus that Seguin was becoming more of a "pro." There's no coincidence between that and his stats. Seguin, like many others, could've been better than the two goals and one assist he had in the playoffs, but this season was a major stepping-stone for a key piece to the Bruins' future.
|LINE'S OVERALL GRADE|| |
Entering the season and still throughout it, many referred to the line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton (or whoever was filling in for Horton after his concussion) as the Bruins' No. 1 line. But with all due respect to that trio -- which had the capability, even in the absence of Horton, to be a legit No. 1 line -- the Bruins' top line in the 2011-12 season was Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin. They had the most points, goals and, most importantly, consistency on both ends of the ice. Influenced by Bergeron's work ethic and defense-first approach, this line became arguably one of the best two-way lines in the NHL. Unfortunately, due to injuries on other lines, it had to be broken up many times.
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Joe McDonald, a native Rhode Islander, joined ESPNBoston.com as a Bruins and Red Sox reporter in February 2010. He worked at the Providence Journal for 18 years and covered the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, PawSox and Providence Bruins. He's a three-time winner of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's state Sportswriter of the Year for Rhode Island. Ask a question in our next Bruins mailbag. Follow him on Twitter here.