The Boston Bruins defense and goaltending is a roller coaster again this year. There are some players who went above and beyond and point expectations thus far this year. Then there are some players who are failing again. The good news is there’s still another half a season to right the wrongs. The Bruins will need to play better in the 2nd half this year to make the playoffs again. For that to happen the defense needs to be more consistent and goalie Tuukka Rask will need to give the same rock solid play in the cage.
Right now though, the Bruins are just an average team and I’m here to go in depth and breakdown each player on the roster. Here are the mid season report cards for the blue line and netminders of the Boston Bruins.
Tuukka Rask: A
W-L-OT: 19-9-3 GAA: 2.00 Sv%: 926 4 Shutouts
Let’s start off on a high note. Tuukka Rask has been the team MVP of this hockey club halfway thru the regular season. Without his play, the Bruins would probably have at least 6-8 more losses and the team would be in the bottom of the Eastern Conftrence standings. Instead, the B’s are still within striking distance for the 3rd place spot in the Atlantic Division. Rask’s 4 shutouts also rank 2nd in the NHL.
Anton Khudobin: F
W-L-OT: 1-5-1 GAA: 3.06 Sv%: .885 0 Shutouts
Everybody knows where I stand with this guy in the net. If not, go check out this article: BREAKING NEWS: Khudobin placed on waivers, It’s McIntyre Time
Incomplete Grades: Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban
Zdeno Chara: B
Goals: 2 Assists: 7 Points: 9 +/-: +5
Let’s get one-thing straight here folks. I don’t care how many people say Chara is so slow or he’s getting older, he’s still far and away the best pure defensemen on the Bruins. The captain got off to a hot start this season. In his first 18 games played he totaled 1 Goal, 5 Assists, 6 points and a +/- rating of +12. During that time-frame his play in his own end was outstanding and found ways to even chip in offensively. He then got injured and missed 6 games with what was called a “lower body injury”. When Chara came back he did not have the same step as he did to start the season. Over his last 16 games he’s only chalked up 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Points and a +/- rating of -7. It has not looked pretty as of late for the big man and he needs to be better as the team goes into the home stretch.
Brandon Carlo: B
Goals: 2 Assists: 6 Points: 8 +/-: +2
Being paired with Zdeno Chara not only will help you become a better player but also boost your confidence knowing that the coaching staff believes in you. The young stud defensemen has been everything what the Bruins asked for and more in his first year. Carlo looked extremely comfortable playing with Chara and looked like a bonafide #1 defensive pairing. Then when Chara went down, Carlo was forced in a bad situation essentially playing against the other teams best players without his mentor. He did not look like the same player and at times was lost out on the ice. When Chara did come back the pairing was reunited but struggles continued. In his last 15 games he collected just 1 Assist with a +/- rating of -10. I would’ve lowered Carlo’s grade but given that he made the team out of camp and made a big impact, he gets a B.
Colin Miller: C+
Goals: 3 Assists: 3 Points: 6 +/-: -3
After a shaky start in October and November, Colin Miller has really stepped up his game in the month of December. Miller looked like a train wreck in the beginning of the season in his own end losing too many puck battles, turning the puck over and constantly trying to do too much. Once December hit, Miller simplified his game and played to his strengths. His outlet pass improved, he’s more efficient in one on one battles and has started to use his shot more often. Claude needs to trust this player and give him more ice time especially while his confidence is sky high.
Torey Krug: B-
Goals: 1 Assists: 21 Points: 22 +/-: -4
Krug by far is the Bruins most offensively skilled defensemen but just like Miller he struggled in October as well. Krug went through all of October without a single point which was concerning since the team signed him to a big money contract. Many people believe it was his shoulder injury that hampered his play. Krug finally started to pick his game up with 11 points in his last 14 games. The Bruins will need to rely on him more to be the catalyst of the blue line not just for this season but also for years to come especially with more youth on the way.
Adam McQuaid: C
Goals: 0 Assists: 1 Points: 1 +/-: +4
McQuaid never was the type of player to put offensive numbers on the board so lets just put that aside right now. His toughness and grit stood out among any Bruins player on the entire roster. If the team needs a kick in the ass or responds to a big hit, McQuaid has always been there. He’s always had the teams back no matter what. His defensive play has not at all been sharp this year. I can’t tell you how many times McQuaid and his pairing partner Torey Krug are always out there giving up an odd man rush. It’s maddening to say the least.
Kevan Miller: D-
Goals: 0 Assists: 1 Points: 1 +/-: -7
I need a quick rant before I start the player evaluation. Here’s a question. Why do the Bruins need to have two guys that bring the same skillset to the table at a position of need? Seriously, Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid are the exact same player and you only need one of them on your roster. I’m done. Lets get started here. Miller began the season the IR with a fractured left hand. It wasn’t til the end of November we got to see him play. To be honest with you, I see very minimal improvement from last year. His IQ in his own zone is piss-poor, he’ll turn the puck over numerous times and won’t give anything offensively. The one thing he does do well at is his ability to fight and intimidate the opposition. That’s about all I’ll give to him.
John Michael Liles: C
Goals: 0 Assists: 5 Points: 5 +/-: -2
The 36-year-old veteran had a rough go at it to start to the season and was finally starting to pick up momentum before he got sidelined with a concussion. Claude Julien used him in perfect situations to slow the game down with his steady defensive play. Liles plays a boring but yet simplified game. Nothing flashy but he just does his job in his own end and the Bruins can’t ask for more than that. Wish we got to see more of him in the 1st half to get more of an evaluation but he is set to return any day now for the black and gold.
Joe Morrow: C-
Goals: 0 Assists: 1 Points: 1 +/-: -3
Here’s what I find odd. Joe Morrow hasn’t been the worst Bruins defensemen this year, yet he gets shafted night in and night out. Morrow hasn’t played since December 12th and he’s only played in 13 games. The 24-year-old defensemen deserves more of a look than what he’s gotten. I get that there’s 8 different D-men rotating in and out of the lineup but for two players of the same skillset that get to play while a slick skater and puck mover like Morrow sits on level 9 is ridiculous.
Incomplete Grades: Matt Grzelcyk and Rob O’Gara
Photo Credit: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images