Report cards: Just average for second line
Bruins report card -- Second line
Final grades are in for the 2011-2012 Boston Bruins. Here's the second line.
|PLAYER||SEASON AND PLAYOFF RECAP/GRADE|
Lucic had solid stats this season, finishing with 26 goals and 35 assists in 81 games, but there were too many nights where the rugged winger wasn't using his size and scoring prowess to make a consistent impact. It seemed at time like Lucic would try to create intensity with physical play and fail and end up taking undisciplined penalties. When Lucic is skating and playing to his full ability, he can be a prolific power forward. But at times it seems like he gets caught not moving enough, expecting that the game or the puck will come to him. His three assists in the seven-game loss to the Capitals weren't close to what the Bruins need from a player that has his talent. Lucic can open up the paths to the net that the Caps and other teams successfully closed when they beat the Bruins but he didn't utilize his abilities enough.
Krejci also put up decent numbers, with 23 goals and 39 assists in 79 games. But like Lucic, Krejci struggled with consistency and really seemed to let the absence of Horton affect his game too much. Obviously it hurts to take away a player like Horton, but Krejci has shown that he has the ability to carry a team on his shoulders. In the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run, Krejci had 23 points in 25 games and showed that he can be a consistent scoring threat. After signing a four-year extension with the Bruins last fall, Krejci was only able to equal his point total of 62 from a season ago and saw his plus/minus go from a plus-23 to a minus-5. This was a season that Krejci could've have proven himself to be a No. 1 center and he didn't. The heat is on next season or Krejci could find himself playing out the final two seasons of that contract with another team.
Horton was close to getting an "incomplete" grade here. Even before the concussion that ended his season, Horton looked as if he was struggling to make it all the way back from the concussion he suffered in Game 3 of the Cup finals against the Canucks, making it hard to be critical of him. But he and the team both insisted he had fully recovered from that concussion and he ended up playing in more than half of the Bruins' game (46). So he is subject to the same criticism as his linemates were. Like Lucic and Krejci, Horton also battled inconsistency and on too many nights (and again, maybe this was a result of the concussion last June), Horton did not apply his size and strength. He had 17 goals and 15 assists but could never seem to find that groove he was in for most of the 2010-11 regular season and playoffs.
|LINE'S OVERALL GRADE|| |
With two power forwards on the wings and a playmaking center that can light the lamp as well, the line of Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton has shown the potential to be one of the most potent scoring lines in the NHL. With Horton and Krejci coming off huge playoff performances in 2011, hopes were high that this line would lead a deep group of forwards for the Bruins in 2011-12. But unfortunately, the trio was inconsistent for much of the season before Horton suffered what ended up being a season-ending concussion on Jan. 22 against the Flyers . With Horton gone, Lucic and Krejci had to play with different players for most of the second half. While that was obviously a factor, both players still failed to play to their potential, especially in the playoffs when they each registered just three points in seven games against the Capitals and were invisible on too many shifts.
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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.