Bruins

NHL Notebook: Grading Bruins players ahead of bye week; Kovalchuk thriving in Montreal

(Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Bruins set to enter the bye week, we decided to hand out our grades for the first 49 games of the 2019-20 campaign. Yes, it’s a bit past the mid-season point, but we feel as though this extended break is a good jumping-off point when it comes to sizing up how Boston has fared so far in this new year. Let’s take a look:

FORWARDS

David Pastrnak — 49 games played / 36 goals / 68 points / 19:32 ATOI

Grade: A+

You’d be hard-pressed to find any issue with Pastrnak’s campaign, given that the dynamic winger is on pace for 54 goals and 114 points this season. Barring any injury, it seems like a given that the forward will hit that 50-goal threshold. Pastrnak’s scoring totals might be in line for some regression (he’s only tabbed for 19.83 expected goals), but given his heavy minutes on a dynamic power play, those quality chances should continue to be there for the skilled sniper. 

(Let's take a look at Pastrnak’s shot map this season — his average shot distance of 31.41 feet is greater than the league average, but the winger’s quick release and booming one-timer have kept him atop the league scoring charts.)

Patrice Bergeron — 40 games played / 20 goals / 40 points  / 19:17 ATOI

GRADE: A 

Even with some nagging lower-body injuries that will have to be monitored down the stretch, Bergeron has continued to be as advertised in his 16th season in Boston. On pace for a career-high 37 goals, Bergeron is the engine that drives the B’s top line while excelling at the "bumper" position on the power play. 

Add in his trademark defensive wizardry and proficiency at faceoffs (57.5%), and it’s been another dominant campaign for No. 37.

As expected, Bergeron’s impact on both offense and defense is rather evident whenever he’s out on the ice. Let’s take a look at Micah Blake McCurdy’s individual impact charts via Hockey Viz for some context: On the offensive side of things, you’d want to see a player providing positive numbers — with the red blobs signifying where the Bruins are generating a majority of their shots from whenever said player (Bergeron, in this case) is on the ice. 

Defensively, negative numbers are a sign that a team is snuffing out opposing scoring chances whenever said player is on the ice. As such, the blue blobs represent where the opposition's shots aren’t regularly coming from.

As you can see below, the Bruins fare better on offense when Bergeron is on the ice during 5v5 play, while the opposition’s shot rates really dry up whenever Bergeron is out on a shift (especially down low and in the slot). He can do it all.

Brad Marchand — 49 games played / 21 goals / 64 points / 19:58 ATOI