After an up and down season, Bruins finished on a high note on Friday, and a dismal, go though the motions on Saturday. I was one that thought; no way would these Bruins make the playoff. I was wrong. Now it’s on to the Big Stuff. Into the tournament they go and right off the bat they get the big bully on the block. But more about that stuff later. Here one man’s opinion on grading the 2007-2008 Boston Bruins.
Zdeno Chara – A GREAT BIG “A”
Considering how he started the season with a couple of boo boos that may have cost the Bruins a few points, your Captain had a marvelous season. He was the backbone of the team as he should have been and even when he was out of the lineup for five games late in the season, the team still kept coming. Nine of his 17 goals came on the power play and he finished a plus 17. Solid!
Tim Thomas – A-
Let’s face it boys and girls, without Thomas, the Bruins would be Tampa Bay North. The feisty, athletic, flexible, unorthodox, competitive goaltender did everything asked and more. Sure he occasionally had a bad game and let in a bad goal at the wrong time, but he got Boston a win when there was no way they should have.
Marc Savard – A-
Solid performer all year long. Led the team in scoring with 15 goals and 63 assists. I think he needs to shoot the puck a bit more but nothing wrong with Savard. Now lets heal that back. He will be needed in the playoffs.
Marco Sturm – B+
The only thing left from the Jumbo Joe Thornton trade, Sturm was a pretty good performer leading the Bruins in goal scoring with 5 game winners.
Chuck Kobasew – B+
Who could have guessed that the former Boston College product would have chipped in 22 goals? He’ll be missed in the playoffs with broken leg.
Phil Kessel – B+
Started off with a bang, faded a bit in the middle and toward the end, maybe a bit of a sophomore jinx season and still needs to work on protecting the puck. But overall, not a bad season. And was one of three Bruins to play in every game.
Milan Lucic – B
This kid is gonna be a player. He was slated to play 9 games and then head back to his junior team. But his play and toughness in those early games made the Bruins decision a tough, but good one. Lucic took on all comers and chipped in with 8 tallies. I look for the same in the coming years.
Mark Stuart – B
Some may say this is a high mark, but when you look back and see how solid he was on defense and durable as he played all 82 games, this a true tribute to a young defenseman that was learning on the job and doing a pretty damn good job.
Aaron Ward – B-
Ward gets this grade for his toughness and all around steady play. But he was out of the lineup for 17 games which brought it down a bit. No problem with Ward and his experience in the playoffs can’t be measured.
David Krejci C+
After doing the Providence-Boston shuttle for parts of the year, Krejci showed that he is ready for prime time. Working hard in the corners and in front of the net to score or set up some big goals down the stretch when the Bruins needed every point.
Alex Auld – C+
Who knew what the Bruins were getting when they got Auld. But he came and won his first three starts. Had a couple of duds, especially in Montreal, but who didn’t. Overall he was the perfect backup to Tim Thomas.
Glen Metropolit – C
The free agent played hard and had some good games but faded and was missing in a lot of others.
P.J. Axelsson – C-
The Tim Wakefield of the Bruins had and up and down season. Going 15 games without a goal. You need more from your veterans and 13 goals is just not enough.
Dennis Wideman – C-
Wideman progressed as the season went along. I think the biggest thing was not pairing him with Chara. I know that sounds weird since I gave the Captain an “A”, but he seemed to get into his own rhythm and game when he was out there with others. Could be a big factor in the playoffs.
Shane Hnidy – C-
Not sure what the Bruins wanted in this guy but he was neither terrible nor fantastic. Did score a big goal down the stretch. But all Bruin goals are big goals.
Glen Murray – D
This one is tough because of all he has given to the Boston Bruins twice in his career. But sorry, Murray is a shadow of himself. In 63 games, a mere 17 goals and he looked lost a lot of the time on the ice. He looked old and with the injuries, it looked like he was getting older right before our eyes. Not a good season for another veteran.
Peter Schaefer – D
I don’t think this is what the Bruins were looking for from Schaefer. Nine goals and not a lot of ice time in 63 games. Insignificant acquisition.
Andrew Ference – D
I really want to like this guy, but he really had a rough season. A tough guy but just doesn’t seem to come out of the corners with the puck and has coughed it up too many times for opposition goals. Let’s hope he can turn it around next year.
Jeremy Reich & Shawn Thornton – D
Yeah, they did everything that was asked of them. And they fought when necessary and did protect when protection was needed. But they just didn’t provide much of anything else. They needed to be a shell of the Rangers Sean Avery and they were not close.
Petteri Nokelainen – D
One of the hard working kids that have come up and seem to belong with the Bruins. Like some of the other kids, not sure he would be in a lineup with more talent, but showed spark and heart and a willingness to learn how to put forth a quality effort on the ice. Would have gotten a better grade, but played in too many games with limited production. I could be tough here with this grade but when you get to the big time, it’s put up or shut up.
Vladimir Sobotka – D
Same as Nokelainen. I look for more in the future.
Matt Lashoff, Matt Hunwick, Bobby Allen, Pascal Pellitier, Jeff Hoggan, Tuukka Rask. All Incomplete as their contributions were very limited.
Andrew Alberts – I will put him into the incomplete category since he had begun to play well when he was run into the boards while on his knees by one of the thugs (Scott Hartnell) in Philadelphia. Post concussion syndrome kept him out of 30 plus games.
Manny Fernandez – BUST
Brought in this past offseason to take the number one job away from Thomas after off season knee surgery. Played a mere 4 games for a 2-2 record. What was Chiarelli thinking on this one.
Claude Julien – B+
Never underestimate a coach that knows what he is supposed to do. He has manage to get this team where several coaches over the past decade plus have not been able to. The Playoffs. He has dealt with injuries and sometimes horrible play by his charges. But down the stretch he brought the team back from losing streaks to clinch a playoff spot. Albeit to their number one rival that they have not defeated since March of 2007. Through it all he has been solid in what he wanted from the team and has not deviated from that philosophy. For me it was hard to imagine what he would be like considering he was fired from the New Jersey Devils one year ago as the first place team in the East was heading into the playoffs. But he did a good job with these Bruins and like many of the players; I look forward to more from all.