The Boston Bruins don’t make news by being good but they raise eyebrows by surpassing expectations.
ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski gave the Bruins an overall grade of “A” Tuesday in their midseason report cards for the NHL’s 31 teams. Boston’s near-perfect score reflects a fine 2019-20 season, in which they’ve overperformed relative to the Worldwide Leader’s predictions — Boston is on pace for 113 points, far better than its preseason over/under of 101.
Kaplan and Wyshynski explain Boston’s “A” grade succinctly.
“With a bit more secondary scoring, last season’s bridesmaid could easily return to the ceremony this spring,” they wrote.
The ESPN analysts then broke down the Bruins’ into these five component parts:
Let’s begin with the best: David Pastrnak (1.42 points per game in 43 games) and Brad Marchand (1.40) could both stake a claim to the Hart Trophy this season for their incredible offensive pace-setting … .
… the Bruins’ top four of McAvoy, the ageless Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug (28 points in 35 games) and Brandon Carlo is as good as any. Tuukka Rask (.931 even-strength save percentage) and Jaroslav Halak (.923) are the best goalie tandem in the East.
… the Bruins are a better offensive team (3.25 goals per game) and defensive team (2.44) than they were last season. But the biggest number for coach Bruce Cassidy through the midway point: .686 points percentage, which has the Bruins ahead of last season and atop the Atlantic Division.
General Manager: B+
… GM Don Sweeney has built a steady winning machine with these Bruins. This seems like a broken record, but the acquisition of a winger at the deadline is of the utmost importance.
Class president: Pastrnak
The winger’s 31 goals currently leads the NHL. He’s third in the league in goals scored since 2016, and he has cemented his place among the NHL’s elite goal-scorers. Also, the man can sell a doughnut.
In danger of failing: Sean Kuraly
An absolute hero in the postseason for the Bruins, the center is under 50 percent on faceoffs and one of the worst Bruins forwards in terms of puck possession.
With marks like these any team, or student, would progress to the next grade with the highest of distinction. However, the onus remains on the Bruins to carry this form into the postseason and win the Stanley Cup Final, if possible.