Patrice Bergeron – C+ – GP: 40, G: 8, A: 7, +/-: -1, PIM: 10, PPG: 3, PPP: 5, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 4, OTG: 0, S: 146, S%: 5.5
Patrice Bergeron, the premier two-way forward in the NHL, has had a rough first half of the 2016-2017 season. He’s not even close to the scoring pace he had last season. Coming off of a strong World Cup of Hockey appearance, Bruins fans showed excitement with how 2/3 of the best line of the tournament would do this season. He missed the beginning of the season with an injury and some believe that he may still be fighting some lingering injuries. Even with the significant reduction in offensive production, Bergeron has been a stalwart presence defensively. He’s still one of the top reasons that the Bruins have some of the best analytics numbers in the National Hockey League. I can’t imagine his scoring pace will stay this slow, but I can’t see him hitting 30 goals again this year. Look for Bergy to tally around 20G 30A by the end of the year. Due to his slow start offensively, I’d give Bergeron a C+ for his first half performance.
Brad Marchand – B – GP: 43, G: 13, A: 22, +/-: +4, PIM: 42, PPG: 3, PPP: 9, SHG: 1, SHP: 1, GWG: 4, OTG: 0, S: 122, S%: 10.7
Brad Marchand was coming off a great World Cup of Hockey tournament on a line with Bergeron, scoring the winning goal in the decisive game. Marchand started the season strong scoring twelve points in his first ten games, but his production dipped significantly after that. Despite his reputation taking a turn for the better, he’s still the victim of some reputation based penalty calls that aren’t always necessarily deserved. He finds himself sometimes doing a little too much for offensive chances and has turned the puck over in bad spots this year as well. With that said, Marchand is still the spirited offensive threat that keeps the opposing defensemen on their toes. Due to his early success mixed with his recent stumbles, I still would give Marchand a solid B for his performance so far in 2016-2017. I can see Marchand rallying later this year when the season is on the line and hitting 30G 25A by the end of the year.
David Pastrnak – A- – GP: 36, G: 19, A: 9, +/-: +12, PIM: 12, PPG: 4, PPP: 6, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 3, OTG: 1, S: 121, S%: 15.7
Pastrnak has been absolutely lethal offensively in the first half of the season for the Bruins. “Pasta” seems to make something happen every time he’s out there on the ice. Despite Pastrnak’s 2 game suspension (which was a load of bull poo-poo, by the way) and injuries, he’s far and away the most dangerous threat the Black and Gold have deployed against their opposition this year. He’s nearly on pace for a 40 goal season, something of which the Bruins haven’t had since 2002-2003, when Glen Murray tallied 44 goals with 48 assists. Pastrnak did undergo a procedure to repair an olecranon bursa in his elbow on December 17th and hasn’t been as lethal since returning from the surgery, but he’s looking better and better as time goes by. Due to Pastrnak’s explosive start to the year, I’m giving him a respectable A- in the first half. I’m also expecting a 35G 25A year out of him.
David Krejci – C+ – GP: 43, G: 9, A: 17, +/-: -8, PIM: 14, PPG: 4, PPP: 8, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 1, OTG: 0, S: 95, S%: 9.5
David Krejci, considered to be the 1B Center to Bergeron’s 1A, went under the knife in the offseason for hip surgery. Krejci started the season off slowly, which was expected with him having to acclimate to new wingers in Ryan Spooner and David Backes. Not a speedy player on his best days, Krejci looked as if he lost yet another step and found himself being blown by and turning the puck over at the beginning of the season. As his hip continued to improve and he grew more comfortable as the season went on, his skating game picked up significantly and the points have started to come. The Bruins need more out of Krejci and his line, and if these last few games are any indication the best is yet to come for David this season. Due to his awful start, I gave him a C+, and that could be considered generous. The boost he received was due to his line’s recent effectiveness after the Bergeron line had become neutered. I can see Krejci tallying a 15G 35A season.
David Backes – B- – GP: 35, G: 11, A: 10, +/-: -1, PIM: 31, PPG: 2, PPP: 4, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 1, OTG: 0, S: 95, S%: 11.6
David Backes, the marquee free agent signing by the Bruins this summer was brought in to bring more of a physical tenacity to the Bruins forward group. He effectively replaced Loui Eriksson’s spot on the team. He was targeted by Don Sweeney for his leadership qualities on and off the ice and his ability to score the gritty goals around the net. Backes’ reputation of being quite resilient and didn’t have a tremendously long history of injuries other than a couple of concussions. Backes has fit in very well with the Bruins, and at times is even wearing the “A” on his sweater that Chris Kelly left vacant. Backes has been dealing with a few injuries here and there, but when in the lineup, Backes has made his presence known and has fit in quite well on the Bruins. He’s currently recovering from another concussion after the hit he took against the Sabres last week, but he recently began practice and should rejoin the lineup soon. I can see Backes breaking 20G and 25A for a respectable season. If the Bruins can squeak into the playoffs, I think his presence will be all the more significant. Due to the injuries that have slowed him down a bit this year, I gave Backes a B-. The production isn’t really there yet for Backes, but I like the game he’s bringing.
Ryan Spooner – C – GP: 42, G: 7, A: 13, +/-: -1, PIM: 10, PPG: 2, PPP: 6, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 2, OTG: 1, S: 85, S%: 8.2
Ryan Spooner has been in the media recently as trade bait and for good reason. Spooner has the foot speed and offensive instincts to be an NHL regular, but there’s something not clicking for the Bruins forward. He makes some questionable decisions and turns over the puck far too often for Claude Julien’s liking. He’s been a healthy scratch once, and he’s rebounded well in his return the lineup. The Bruins need Ryan Spooner’s speed, but they need him to be responsible and effective offensively. If Spooner does remain a Bruin, and that’s a big if with the trade deadline around the corner, I can see him staying on a line with Backes and Krejci and bumping his production up in the 2nd half of the year. I’ve given Spooner a C due to his hit or miss performances, but I could see him reaching 18G and 25 assists by the end of the year.
Austin Czarnik – C+ – GP: 39, G: 5, A: 7, +/-: -4, PIM: 10, PPG: 0, PPP: 2, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 1, OTG: 0, S: 52, S%: 9.6
Czarnik was another NCAA free agent signing by Don Sweeney. He signed his entry-level contract on April 1 2015 and spent last season with the Bruins AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. Czarnik technically won a job with the Bruins out of training camp, but an injury he sustained shelved him from the season opener. Czarnik brings a healthy blend of speed, hands and offensive creativity on a team that lacked it last season. Czarnik has had flashes of brilliance and has even been rewarded with special teams time by the Bruins brass. Czarnik has been victimized a few times when he bobbled a pass and gave the opposition an odd man rush or breakaway while on the powerplay. Once he gets more comfortable with the NHL game, I believe that Czarnik will be a legitimate NHL presence on the ice. I gave Czarnik a C+ due to his promising offensive ceiling, but slightly concerning turnover tendencies. I can see Czarnik hitting 12-14G and 20A by the time the 2016-2017 season has come to a close.
Riley Nash – F – GP: 43, G: 2, A: 6, +/-: -3, PIM: 8, PPG: 0, PPP: 0, SHG: 0, SHP: 1, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 62, S%: 3.2
Riley Nash was one of Don Sweeney’s free agent signings. He was a 3rd/4th line forward for a struggling Carolina Hurricanes squad, but he had a reputation of being strong on the puck and a reliable player. Nash doesn’t stand out much when he’s out on the ice. He usually doesn’t turn the puck over, but he doesn’t necessarily create much in regards of offense either. Nash has found himself a stable spot in the lineup this season for some reason. I don’t particularly care for his play so far this year. When you have as much ice time as Riley Nash, you need to contribute more offensively. Due to Nash’s offensive woes, I had no choice but to give him an F for the first half of the year. I hope he turns it around, but I’m projecting him to finish the season with around 8G and 15A. That’s simply not good enough if this team wants to be a playoff team.
Frank Vatrano – B – GP: 9, G: 2, A: 2, +/-: 0, PIM: 2, PPG: 0, PPP: 1, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 22, S%: 9.1
Frank Vatrano was primed for a big season with likely a top-six role with the Bruins going into the season. During training camp, he had a foot injury took him off of the ice for three months. The Bruins season has been a quiet one in the way of offense so far this year, but when Vatrano returned he made an immediate impact. And by immediate, I mean immediate. The Massachusetts native scored in his first game back with the Bruins. We don’t really have much material to judge, but from his offensive contributions he’s brought with only 8 games played, I can’t help but to give him a B. He’s outplaying Riley Nash already, but that might not be saying much. I can see Vatrano reaching 15G 10A by the end of the season if he can stay healthy.
Tim Schaller – B- – GP: 37, G: 6, A: 6, +/-: -6, PIM: 21, PPG: 0, PPP: 0, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 1, OTG: 0, S: 63, S%: 9.5
Tim Schaller was another Don Sweeney free agent signing prior to the 2016/2017 season. The Merrimack, NH native had three contract offers similar to the Bruins’ offer, but due to the Bruins geography in comparison to home and that he grew up a Bruins fan, it was an easy choice to sign with Boston. Tim Schaller was not expected to provide much in the way of offense, but he’s been a pleasant surprise to the efficiency of the Bruins bottom 6. Claude Julien has had to send him to the press box for a game here or there, but he’s always been one to rebound strong. Plus, those giant Schaller heads in TD Garden are always worth a laugh. I believe that Schaller has done more than what was asked of him when he first signed as a Bruin. With that, I gave him a respectable grade of B-. I’d be happy to see if Schaller could break 12G and 15A, but we’ll see how it goes.
Jimmy Hayes – F – GP: 36, G: 2, A: 1, +/-: -4, PIM: 24, PPG: 0, PPP: 0, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 1, OTG: 0, S: 57, S%: 3.5
It’s official. I’m done with Jimmy Hayes. Outside of scoring in an unreasonably late round of the shootout to secure a win against Tampa, Jimmy Hayes has been a possession black hole. In addition to being completely unreliable with the puck, he’s prone to poorly timed penalties. When not in the box, Jimmy Hayes prefers to skate like he’s caught in quicksand or sit in the press box to look down where all of his teammates are playing. I don’t care that he’s from Boston, it’s time for Don Sweeney to pull the plug. I’d be shocked if Jimmy Hayes breaks 8 goals this season. My blood pressure is rising just by writing about this guy. He gets a big fat F for his effort so far this year.
Domenic Moore – A+ – GP: 43, G: 8, A: 5, +/-: 5, PIM: 22, PPG: 0, PPP: 0, SHG: 2, SHP: 2, GWG: 1, OTG: 0, S: 48, S%: 16.7
Domenic Moore has been an absolute stud so far this year, and a great free agent signing by Don Sweeney. He’s signed to an incredibly affordable 1 year $900,000 contract and has carried the fourth line at multiple different times this season. He’s already scored 8 goals and 4 assists, and a quarter of his goals have come shorthanded. Moore has been a Boston local for a while now. He played four seasons at Harvard University after being drafted by the Rangers. Moore has brought stability and strong penalty killing. He’s quite reliable 5 on 5 as well. Due to his surprisingly play, I have to give Domo an impressive A+. I can see Domenic Moore finishing the season with 15G and 15A this year.
Matt Beleskey – D – GP: 24, G: 2, A: 3, +/-: -6, PIM: 23, PPG: 0, PPP: 2, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 44, S%: 4.5
There’s one word that describes Matt Beleskey in the first half of the 2016/2017 season: disappointing. Beleksey was an ambassador of the Bruins, going with team staff and teammate David Pastrnak on a trip abroad to China. He seemed primed to produce this season with a decent chance of playing top 6 minutes. For some reason or another it hasn’t happened. Beleskey has struggled mightily, and it looks like his skating is to blame. He seems to be a step behind consistently, and hasn’t been able to skate hard enough to make the big hits or forecheck that makes him an effective player on a shift by shift basis. On top of his poor start, Beleskey suffered a lower body injury on December 3rd against the Sabres that knocked him out of the lineup for a decent chunk of time. Due to his ineffective play, I feel generous to give him a D and not an F. I still think that ‘Skibanger can bring a needed presence to this lineup, he just needs to get healthy and keep his feet moving. I can see Beleskey finishing the year with 10G and 15A.
Anton Blidh – C – GP: 14, G: 1, A: 1, +/-: 0, PIM: 0, PPG: 0, PPP: 0, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 24, S%: 4.2
Anton Blidh was a rather strong contributor down in Providence to start the season. He was recalled from Providence in early December and has been a physical agitator on the ice for the 4th line. He’s not one that has a knack for scoring, but he’s good at getting the forecheck going and forcing turnovers. He hasn’t been fantastic, but he hasn’t been awful either. When the team gets healthy or makes a trade for another forward, I don’t see Blidh sticking. They’ll like send him back down to Providence. Due to Blidh’s contribution, I feel that a grade of C is fair. I don’t think he’ll break 5G 10A this year.
Zdeno Chara – B+ – GP: 37, G: 2, A: 8, +/-: 6, PIM: 34, PPG: 0, PPP: 1, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 51, S%: 3.9
Chara has been the subject of scrutiny for Bruins fans for the last few years. The Boston Tower of Power has slowed down and is becoming less effective, or so the stat line led us to believe. Playing alongside rookie sensation Brandon Carlo has proven to be somewhat of a fountain of youth. Chara’s legs have moved well, he’s been keeping up with the play and showing the active stick that makes him one of the best #1 defensemen in the NHL. His point production has been low this year, but with a team that had one of the worst blue lines in the league last year he’s doing a good job keeping the puck out of the back of the net while he’s on the ice. Due to his defensive resurgence and strong skating agility to start the year, I’m glad to assess Zdeno with a B+. I don’t, however, expect to see a 3.9% shooting percentage continue. “Big Z” is due for another goal, and I can see him breaking 8G 20A by the end of the year if he can put it all together.
Brandon Carlo – A – GP: 43, G: 2, A: 6, +/-: 3, PIM: 25, PPG: 0, PPP: 0, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 49, S%: 4.1
Brandon Carlo. What can I say? He made the team as a 19-year-old player from the WHL. The 6’5? Colorado Springs native has played on a pairing with Zdeno Chara from the beginning of the season and he’s played like a veteran for most of it. There’s been a small window of time lately that he seems to be struggling a bit, but he’s been mightily impressive so far. He’s proven that he belongs at this level and seems to be learning more and more. I think that Zdeno Chara has benefited from playing with Carlo so he can focus more on his own game, and not covering up for the mistakes his defense partner makes. Carlo is not an offensive defenseman. Carlo is a new era defenseman that uses his long legs and size to defend well, but turn the puck up into transition for the attack quickly. He also has a good understanding of offensive positioning and has made a few great plays that led to Bruins goals. It’s been a while since the Bruins have had a promising defenseman step into the NHL roster. Due to Carlo’s immediate positive impact, Carlo earns an impressive A. I look forward to more of Carlo as the season progresses. I hope he’s able to break 5G 20A by the year is over.
Torey Krug – B- – GP: 43, G: 1, A: 22, +/-: -5, PIM: 24, PPG: 0, PPP: 8, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 121, S%: 0.8
Torey Krug is the wheels on the Bruins blue line. He broke into the league during the playoff series against the Rangers a few seasons ago, and he’s been an offensive catalyst ever since. When reviewing the stats, my heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I was looking at his shooting percentage. 0.8%. Torey Krug needs to take over 100 shots on goal in order for him to score at this rate. Wow. Krug seems to have lost a bit off of the lethal slapshot that he showed when he broke into the league. I don’t know if he’s just opting for more savable wrist shots, or just is snake bitten now, but that is an absurdly low number. Krug is still doing very well for the Bruins in the way of transition, and his skating game has improved as the season continues. Due to the big minutes he’s logged, and the leadership he provides, Krug has earned a B. If the Bruins are going to become a threat from the blue line offensively, they’ll need Krug to show the way. I’d be happy to see Krug step it up and put 10G 40A up by the end of the year.
Adam McQuaid – B – GP: 38, G: 0, A: 1, +/-: +3, PIM: 42, PPG: 0, PPP: 0, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 41, S%: 0
When thinking of offense from the blue line, Adam McQuaid is not the first name that comes to mind. He’s a stay at home, in your face defenseman. He hasn’t scored a goal all year, after all. McQuaid has improved his puck possession game this year and has actually been one of the Bruins best advanced statistics players. He’s played with Torey Krug for much of the season and he’s played well. When the game gets chippy or someone takes liberties against a Bruin, McQuaid manages to make his presence known and handles the situation accordingly. I think McQuaid has earned the right to stay in the Bruins top 6 this year, even if what he brings to the table is redundant to Kevan Miller. I can see McQuaid finishing the year with 2G 5A and strong play on the back end for the Bruins.
Colin Miller – B+ – GP: 33, G: 3, A: 3, +/-: -2, PIM: 23, PPG: 1, PPP: 1, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 54, S%: 5.6
Colin Miller has been a story of frustration. For him, for the fans, and for the coach. “Chiller” has shown flashes of brilliance – a quick stride, a booming slapshot and a nice dose of nasty that makes an NHL defender that much more effective. Miller has been a victim of Claude’s veteran preference complex. He’s been inexplicably benched in favor of the veterans that Claude loves so much, most notably Liles and Kevan Miller. Colin Miller has been impressive, evading forecheckers and creating odd man rushes with his speed, pinching down the wall to keep the puck alive in the defensive zone, and some stronger defensive play. Colin Miller should be in the lineup every night. Due to his offensive awareness and speed, I’d give Colin Miller a B+ so far this season. Now you just need to play him more, Claude. I can see Colin Miller finishing the year with 10G 20A.
Kevan Miller – D – GP: 23, G: 0, A: 3, +/-: -4, PIM: 15, PPG: 0, PPP: 0, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 25, S%: 0
I have had enough of Kevan Miller. He’s the California version of Adam McQuaid. He’s a good guy and good for the room, but he’s redundant and not needed. He’s strong in the defensive zone and protects his teammates, but he’s too prone to mental mistakes and bad offensive zone pinches that lead to dangerous scoring chances for the opposition. When we have players like Joe Morrow and Colin Miller doing nothing as healthy scratches, it’s inexplicable to have Kevan Miller playing with McQuaid already in the lineup. Don Sweeney has to cut his bait and move on. Miller has only had games played this season and I can’t think of one game where I said to myself – “Wow, that was a great game by Kevan Miller.” I gave Kevan Miller a D because he hasn’t been a complete train wreck, but he’s not useful. I’d be surprised to see him hit 4G and 10A this year. I hope he doesn’t see another game in the Bruins uniform.
John-Michael Liles – D – GP: 23, G: 0, A: 5 +/-: -1, PIM: 4, PPG: 0, PPP: 3, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 20, S%: 0
Liles was a trade deadline acquisition last year by Dealer Don Sweeney. He came to the Bruins from the Carolina Hurricanes and brought a presence that the team needed. He has a quick first step and some strong offensive instincts, but he’s not exactly a cornerstone in his own zone. He has the skillset to thrive in today’s NHL and I don’t particularly blame Sweeney for signing Liles, but he can’t be played over younger, higher ceiling players like Colin Miller and Joe Morrow. If anything, Liles should be in over K. Miller. Liles has struggled a bit this year with a concussion he suffered against Tampa Bay when Bishop tripped him up and he went crashing into the boards hard. Liles just returned to the lineup, and I hope to see him get his head back on straight as he was directly responsible for Sebastian Aho’s OT GWG against the Bruins on 1/8. I would like to see Liles put up 4G 25A by the end of the season if he’s a regular in the lineup.
Joe Morrow – C+ – GP: 13, G: 0, A: 1 +/-: -3, PIM: 6, PPG: 0, PPP: 0, SHG: 0, SHP: 0, GWG: 0, OTG: 0, S: 18, S%: 0
The tragedy of Joe Morrow. That’s the title of the book I should write about Joe. Joe Morrow has the offensive, high skill upside a top 4 defenseman needs in today’s NHL, but he’s stuck behind the likes of Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller on the depth chart. Unfortunately for him and the Bruins, he’s also susceptible to waivers. If he is sent down to the AHL for playing time, he’d surely be claimed by a team looking for defensive help. For now, he continues to wither in the press box. I wanted to give Joe Morrow more than a C+, but due to his lack of playing time it’s impossible. I’m hoping somehow Joe can get back into the lineup (whether it’s due to trade, injury, whatever) or he’s dealt to a team that can use him for an asset the Bruins needs. I doubt he’ll get a chance to break the 5G 10A threshold.
Tuukka Rask – A+ – GP: 32, GS: 32, W: 20, L: 9, T: 0, OT: 3, SA: 846, GA: 61, GAA: 1.93, SV%: .928, SO: 5, MIN: 1,894
Tuukka Rask has been a major reason for the Bruins success. When Tuukka is between the pipes, the Bruins have a great chance to secure two points. Tuukka has been strong when tested and has reduced the number of “soft” goals he’s allowed. He’s already got five shut outs on the season, and probably should have more of them if it weren’t for some last minute collapses. My only concern so far through the first half of the year is health – can Tuukka stay healthy with the heavy workload? My money is on yes, and he’ll be able to work with this year’s stronger defense. If Tuukka can continue to play as strong as he has for the first half of the year the Bruins will likely find themselves in the playoff picture by the conclusion of the regular season. Due to Tuukka’s fantastic play, I’ve given Tuukka an A+. He’s got to be a leader and he’s leading the way thus far. I’d like to see Tuukka play 67/68 games and post 45 wins with around a .935 SV% and sub-2.00 GAA.
Anton Khudobin – F – GP: 8, GS: 7, W: 1, L: 5, T: 0, OT: 1, SA: 200, GA: 23, GAA: 3.06, SV%: .885, SO: 0, MIN: 451
Yuck. This season has been abysmal for the Boston returnee. The backup goaltending role may seem like one that slips by the wayside, but during the regular season it’s of paramount importance that your #1 guy gets the rest he needs. Rask has been a stud so far for the Bruins, but even the best goalies in the world need a night off from time to time. Being a goaltender, especially in the day of the butterfly, is a rigor on your knees and your hips. The Bruins brought Khudobin in because they weren’t happy with what Jonas Gustavsson was bringing them. All that you can ask a goalie to do is to “give us a chance to win”. I’m not sure that Khudobin has necessarily done that for the B’s. Due to his poor play, he’s been demoted to Providence where he responded with a respectable shutout for the Baby B’s. If given a recall, I hope that Anton can put it together and try to climb back to .500, at least as close as he can.
Zane McIntyre – B – GP: 8, GS: 7, W: 1, L: 5, T: 0, OT: 1, SA: 200, GA: 23, GAA: 3.06, SV%: .885, SO: 0, MIN: 451
It’s never an easy task to be called up to the best league in the world on an emergency basis, nevermind getting a second crack after the first one didn’t go so well. McIntyre had his first NHL start this season and while it didn’t end in the Bruins favor, his hard work and determination earned him a second NHL recall when the Bruins waived Anton Khudobin. McIntyre had posted an incredible 10-0-0 in his last 10 in Providence and had shown that he was ready for the next challenge. Boston recalled McIntyre for the current road trip, and while the Bruins were unable to secure the full 2 points against Carolina, he performed admirably. The sample size isn’t there to make a fair determination on McIntyre’s first half performance with the Bruins, but his commitment to the franchise and effort in Providence was worth a B. If he stays with the big club and continues to put more tallies in the L column than the W column, his performance grading will change quickly. For now, I am giving the Thief River Falls, Minnesota native the benefit of the doubt. Let’s see how he does and if he sticks in the Bruins backup role. I’d like to see him put up 5 wins by the end of the year with an over .900 SV%.
BOSTON BRUINS OVERALL
Overall, the Bruins have shown flashes of brilliance, and signs of despair. I fear they look like yet another middle of the pack team that will finish anywhere from 6th to 10th in the Eastern Conference, doomed to either an early playoff exit or a playoff miss with a mid-round choice in the 1st. This is not the greatest draft to have a mid to late pick, so I would be surprised if the Bruins stand pat with the amount of prospects they have in the system. As of now they sit 2nd in the Atlantic Division, the weaker of the two divisions in the East. They are not sitting there comfortably. Both Ottawa and Toronto have four games in hand, Toronto trails by three points and Ottawa by only one. It’s only a matter of time until they find themselves out of the playoff picture once again unless they’re able to put together some consistent play. Look for Don Sweeney to show some desperation at the trade deadline or before and bring in some tangible assets that can contribute immediately, and the Bruins to shed some of the prospect surplus they have. I’d give the B’s a C- so far this year, but I’d be overjoyed for that to become a B.