Report cards: Corvo the weak link
Bruins report card -- No. 3 defense
Final grades are in for the 2011-2012 Boston Bruins. Here's the No. 3 defense pairing (also included are Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau, who were acquired at the trade deadline:
|PLAYER||SEASON AND PLAYOFF RECAP/GRADE|
Ference had a better than expected season offensively and also was a solid physical presence on the blue line. The Bruins' alternate captain had six goals and 18 assists for 24 points in 72 regular-season games, the second highest point total in his career (he had 31 for the Flames in 2005-06) and then a goal and three assists in seven playoff games. Ference also was a leader on and off the ice. His physical play and willingness to drop the gloves to defend his teammates once again made him a well-respected player in the dressing room.
Corvo himself was very open about the fact that he simply did not have a good season and did not deliver the offense and the boost to the Bruins' power play both he and the team were hoping he would when he was acquired from Carolina last July. After a 40-point season in Carolina in 2010-11, Corvo had just 25 points in 75 regular-season games and then none in five playoff games. Head coach Claude Julien was patient with Corvo, waiting until the final month of the season to make him a healthy scratch, but Corvo could never seem to find his way in Julien's system. His confidence was clearly dwindling to the point where, at his final media availability after the Bruins' loss to the Capitals, a downtrodden Corvo told the media he didn't expect to be back with Boston next season and openly wondered where his career would take him next. The Corvo experiment was one both the Bruins and Corvo will try to forget.
Zanon only played 17 regular season games and then seven in the playoffs, registering a goal and two assists in the regular season and then one assist in the playoffs. While he had a few bad games, he was a reliable player for Claude Julien when the Bruins needed him to fill in for an injured or scratched player. His willingness to block shots and his stay-at-home style made him a safe choice to play in a pinch.
There really wasn't enough of a sample from Mottau since he played just two games in the regular season with the Bruins and then two in the playoffs. But when he did play he was a dependable fill-in. Mottau usually made that safe outlet pass and wasn't really noticeable, which is a good thing for a defenseman.
|PAIRING'S OVERALL GRADE|| |
As we have said in our previous defense report cards, the pairings switched frequently due to injuries and match-up issues, but on many nights Joe Corvo and Andrew Ference were the Bruins' third defensive pairing, and while the Bruins expected much more offense from Corvo, they thankfully got a solid season offensively from Ference. But while neither Ference (plus 10) nor Corvo (plus 10) was a minus, each had a problem with turnovers and on many nights proved to be a defensive liability. Corvo is most likely gone next season, and thankfully for the Bruins that means his errors in the defensive zone and those that led to scoring chances for the opponent will be too. But the Bruins will need Ference to improve in this area and also find a better partner for him.
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Joe McDonald, a native Rhode Islander, joined ESPNBoston.com as a Bruins and Red Sox reporter in February 2010. He has worked at the Providence Journal since 1992, covering the Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots, PawSox and Providence Bruins over the past nine years. Ask a question in our next Bruins mailbag. Follow him on Twitter here.
James Murphy has covered the Bruins and the NHL for the last eleven seasons in various capacities whether it be online, print, radio or TV. In addition to being in his third season with ESPNBoston.com, Murphy has also written for NHL.com, NESN.com, Insidehockey.com, Le Hockey Magazine, the Boston Metro, News12.com and Newsday. On air, Murphy now hosts "Murphy's Hockey Law" a weekly hockey show on Murphyshockeylaw.com and Websportsmedia.com. He is also a regular guest talking hockey on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston and TSN 690 in Montreal. Murphy has also given his hockey insight on NESN TV in Boston. Ask a question in our next Bruins mailbag