Bruins report card: Grading every player at the halfway point of the season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Bruins have played 41 games as of Friday, which means they are officially at the halfway point of the 2022-23 NHL season.
Most people thought the Bruins would be a very good team this season and likely make the playoffs. Few could have predicted they would be on pace to break the records for most points and most wins by any team in league history. Boston has a 32-5-4 record, putting the Original Six franchise on pace for 136 points and 64 wins.
The Bruins have a 9-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs for the best overall record. The B’s lead the league with 154 goals scored and 88 goals against (20 fewer than the next-best team). They also own the third-best power play and top-ranked penalty kill. Jim Montgomery has done a fantastic job in his first year as Bruins head coach, too.
As you might imagine, most Bruins players have met or exceeded expectations thus far. Let’s look at midseason grades for every Bruins player who’s played 20 or more games.
Stats: 32 G, 26 A in 41 GP
Pastrnak is having his best NHL season at the perfect time given his contractual situation. He’s on pace to tally 115 points, which would be the highest of any Bruins player since 1992-93. He’s also on track to score 60-plus goals (64, to be exact) — something no Bruins forward has done since Phil Esposito in 1974-75. Pastrnak ranks second among all players with 32 goals and tied for fourth in scoring with 58 points.
Linus Ullmark, G
Stats: 22-2-1, .938 SV%, 1.88 GAA
Ullmark is the favorite for the Vezina Trophy.
He leads all goalies in wins, save percentage, goals against average and goals saved above average (26.31). Ullmark has been remarkably consistent, too, allowing two goals or fewer in 20 of his 27 appearances. He’s given up more than three goals in just one game.
Ullmark going from a very good goalie to a consistently elite goalie is the primary reason why the Bruins have dominated the league over the first half of the season.
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Stats: 15 G, 18 A in 41 GP
Bergeron shows almost no signs of slowing down at age 37. He is on track to score 20 goals for the 10th consecutive season. His defense has continued to be elite, too. The Bruins have allowed just nine goals during his 483:43 of 5-on-5 ice time, which is the best mark in the league among players with 450-plus 5-on-5 minutes. Bergeron also hasn’t missed a single game yet this season.
Hampus Lindholm, D
Stats: 5 G, 23 A in 41 GP
Lindholm’s offensive talent has been unlocked in Montgomery’s system. He’s being more aggressive in jumping into the play and creating scoring chances. The results have been 28 points in 41 games, putting him on pace to shatter his previous career high of 31 set in 2014-15. Lindholm also has been strong defensively — the Bruins account for 55 percent of all shot attempts and 66 percent of all goals during his 5-on-5 ice time. The Swedish defenseman contributes over two minutes per game on the power play and penalty kill, too, showing his full all-around value to the team.
Stats: 11 G, 20 A in 36 GP
Krejci has exceeded expectations offensively with 31 points in 36 games. He has a realistic chance of getting to 20 goals for just the fifth time in his career. He’s also been a great fit on the second line with Pastrnak — their chemistry is brilliant. Boston needed an upgrade at second-line center over Erik Haual and Krejci has done the job tremendously.
Brad Marchand, LW
Stats: 13 G, 24 A in 33 GP
The first couple weeks after Marchand returned were a struggle for him at 5-on-5. Most of his early points came on the power play. But since Christmas, Marchand is tied for the team lead in 5-on-5 points with seven in eight games. Overall, he’s on pace to score above a point-per-game for the seventh straight campaign. Even at age 34, Marchand remains the league’s most complete left wing.
Jake DeBrusk, LW
Stats: 16 G, 14 A in 36 GP
DeBrusk’s reported fibula fracture will sideline him for about a month. It’s an unfortunate stroke of bad luck for the 26-year-old forward, who was enjoying the best season of his career.
DeBrusk was on pace to score 36 goals — nine more than his career high 27. He also was the hero of the 2023 Winter Classic, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at Fenway Park. In addition to his scoring uptick, DeBrusk has been a more complete two-way player and has even contributed to the penalty kill. He’s thriving under Montgomery, and we should expect that to continue after his return from injury.
Charlie McAvoy, D
Stats: 2 G, 21 A in 28 GP
McAvoy is producing offense at a career-high 1.39 points per 60 minutes (5-on-5) and playing his typically elite defense. The Bruins account for 53.5 percent of all shot attempts, 55.1 percent of all shots on net and 64.9 percent of all goals — strong numbers across the board — when McAvoy is on the ice at 5-on-5. Boston goalies have a staggering .943 save percentage at 5-on-5 with McAvoy on the ice. McAvoy is playing at the No. 1 defenseman level everyone expected.
Derek Forbort, D
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Stats: 2 G, 5 A in 30 GP
Forbort is a very valuable piece on Boston’s blue line and it wasn’t a surprise that during his absence from Nov. 2 through Nov. 28 the Bruins ranked 20th in penalty killing. It’s also no surprise that before his injury, and then after his injury, the Bruins have the No. 1 ranked penalty kill. Forbort’s physical play, shot blocking and ability to defend at a high level against quality competition make him quite important to the B’s overall success.
Charlie Coyle, C
Stats: 10 G, 13 A in 41 GP
Despite playing against tough competition and beginning just 36.13 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone, Coyle is on pace to set career highs in goals and points per 60 minutes. Coyle has been fantastic defensively, too, and leads all Bruins forwards with 2:42 of ice time per game on the league’s top-ranked penalty kill. He’s also winning 55.2 percent of his faceoffs. Coyle remains one of the very best third-line centers in the sport.
Pavel Zacha, C/LW
Stats: 5 G, 20 A in 41 GP
Zacha’s goal scoring has slumped this season. He is on pace to score five fewer than last season, and he’s also found the back of the net just twice in the last 25 games. However, his assists and points per 60 minutes (5-on-5) are both up over 2021-22 and the versatility he gives Montgomery with the ability to play at left wing or center, or on pretty much any line, is valuable. Zacha has been a good fit with Krejci and Pastrnak on an all-Czech second line.
Stats: 1 G, 11 A in 37 GP
Grzelcyk has played quite well since returning from offseason surgery rehab in mid-October. The Bruins have a 31-12 goal differential at 5-on-5 when Grzelcyk is on the ice. He’s also been a very good playmaker (especially on the power play) and helps drive puck possession at a solid rate.
Trent Frederic, C/LW
Stats: 9 G, 18 A in 38 GP
Frederic is having a fantastic season and on pace to set career highs in goals, assists and points. In fact, his 17 points through 38 games are just one fewer than he had in 60 games last season. Frederic recently credited Montgomery for his offensive turnaround.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Monty,” Frederic told NESN after Sunday’s win over the Anaheim Ducks. “He’s done a great job letting me play free and just putting confidence in me. He’s been awesome for me and everyone.”
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Brandon Carlo, D
Stats: 1 G, 6 A in 37 GP
Carlo has done a very good job as a defensive defenseman. The Bruins have outscored opponents 28-13 and the goalies have posted a .943 save percentage during Carlo’s 5-on-5 ice time. Carlo also has played a key role on the penalty kill, tallying 3:14 of shorthanded ice time per game (second-most on the team behind Forbort).
Taylor Hall, LW
Stats: 13 G, 16 A in 41 GP
Hall’s stats are good — only Pastrnak has more 5-on-5 points for the B’s — but the consistency has been lacking. He enters Friday with a 10-game goal drought. He also went through a stretch from late October through late November with just two goals in 14 games. The Bruins need a little more consistency from Hall if they’re going to have the required scoring depth to win four rounds in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Tomas Nosek, C
Stats: 3 G, 4 A in 39 GP
Nosek doesn’t produce a ton of offense, but he stays in the lineup because of his excellent defensive abilities. He’s a key component of the penalty kill and his 58.3 faceoff win percentage is the second-best on the team behind Bergeron. Nosek is currently dealing with an injury that’s preventing him from taking faceoffs. It would be smart of the Bruins to give him a rest so he can recover from whatever ailment is bothering him.
Nick Foligno, LW
Stats: 6 G, 12 A in 41 GP
Foligno wasn’t as productive offensively in the second quarter of the season. He has scored only one goal in his last 15 games. That said, he’s already up to 18 points in 41 games after tallying just 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) in 61 games last season. Foligno also has made a huge impact as a respected voice in the locker room. The Winter Classic was one example of that.
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Stats: 9-3-3, .905 SV%, 2.51 GAA
The first couple weeks were a struggle for Swayman, but since returning from an almost three-week absence due to injury on Nov. 19, he has posted a 8-2-3 record with a .912 save percentage and a 2.21 GAA. Ullmark is on pace to set a career high in games played, and the Bruins will want to keep him fresh for what they hope will be a long playoff run in the spring. This should result in Swayman getting plenty of action in the second half of the season.
Connor Clifton, D
Stats: 3 G, 9 A in 41 GP
Clifton’s offensive numbers declined a bit in the second quarter of the season, but the Bruins still consistently tilt the ice in their favor at 5-on-5 when he’s on the ice. Under Montgomery, Clifton has found a good balance between playing an aggressive, fast-paced style (especially offensively) and being responsible enough defensively.
A.J. Greer, LW
Stats: 3 G, 4 A in 26 GP
Greer has gone 22 games without scoring. His last goal came against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 17 — the fourth game of the season. Unless Greer’s offense comes back around, he could be a healthy scratch on a fairly regular basis.
Craig Smith, RW
Stats: 2 G, 3 A in 27 GP
Smith has been a massive disappointment. Two goals in 27 games isn’t going to cut it — not even close. Smith has a great opportunity to revive his game with DeBrusk missing multiple weeks due to injury. The Bruins need more goal scoring on the wings, and if Smith cannot provide that, it’s fair to wonder how much he’ll play late in the regular season and in the playoffs. The ideal scenario for the Bruins is trading Smith and freeing up some much-needed salary cap space, but he probably doesn’t have a ton of value on the market right now given his lackluster production.