scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Taking stock of the Bruins roster from an expectations-vs.-performance standpoint

Boston Bruins goaltender Jaroslav Halak, here receiving defensive support from Connor Clifton (75) in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes, has exceeded all expectations with one-quarter of the season complete.Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Bruins, who were off Sunday, will pass the quarter mark of the season on Wednesday at Detroit. At 11-6-3, they’re in a playoff spot (seventh in the East) but dealing with a spate of injuries that could make it difficult to stay there. Let’s take stock of the roster from an expectations-vs.-performance standpoint:

Exceeding expectations

■  Jaroslav Halak, G: At 34, playing as if he wants to remind everyone he can still be an NHL ace. Bruins expected him to push Tuukka Rask, not overtake him. On track for first All-Star berth since 2015.

■  Matt Grzelcyk, D: One of several defensemen getting a career-altering opportunity. Battling for a roster spot in September, he has been arguably the Bruins’ best defender in the last few games. Supreme skating and stick-on-puck defending make him effective at 5-9, 174.


■  Joakim Nordstrom, LW/C: Not a top-six finisher, but game is well-rounded enough to play on the second line. Bruins have gotten more out of ex-fourth-liner than did Carolina. Lot of bang for the buck ($1 million per season). If he could cash in a few more . . .

■  David Pastrnak, RW: NHL leader in goals (17) cooled slightly on this road trip, but 50 is well within reach (current pace is 70). Plus, has taken a step forward in physical game. A fast, powerful, creative winger, worth every penny ($6.67 million). Expected to become a force in this league. He is.

Performing at par

■  Patrice Bergeron, C: If his apparent left shoulder issue isn’t long-term, can stay in the thick of the Art Ross race (T-3 as of Sunday, 9-17—26). Excels in every area, as he has the last decade-plus.

■  Brad Marchand, LW: Entertainment factor always high when No. 63 is on the ice, or in the penalty box. Point-per-game whose leadership has been apparent lately.


■  David Krejci, C: Subtle, slow-paced playmaking drives the second line and second power-play unit. Wants to make magic with Pastrnak, and likely hopes that experiment lasts beyond Bergeron’s return. No complaints about his production so far (2-14—16), considering his time spent with Bruins’ learning-on-the-job wingers.

■  Jake DeBrusk, LW/RW: Has had scoring chances aplenty, and getting to dangerous areas more of late. Given the way he works, should end season with a nice-looking stat line (currently 8-2—10).

■  Torey Krug, D: Getting his wheels spinning after long layoff. Has the keys to the league’s second-ranked PP. One of the league’s better distributors from the back end.

■  Zdeno Chara, D: Losing him for the next month, at least, is tough. Remains a highly effective defender at 41.

■  Brandon Carlo, D, and John Moore, D: Were using best assets (size and skating) to contribute at even strength and PK before recent injuries.

■  Kevan Miller, D: Much-needed and greatly missed physical presence. Could return for Detroit.

■  Sean Kuraly, C: Experiment as No. 3 C didn’t work but is well suited for his current role (No. 4 C). High motor, hard to play against.

■  Chris Wagner, LW, and Noel Acciari, RW: More finish would be nice but plenty adequate as fourth-line checkers.

■  Steven Kampfer, D: Nice stopgap in a time of need. Has outperformed his spare-part designation.

Need to see more

■  Jeremy Lauzon, D: After eight games, looks bound for “exceeds expectations” category. Ready and able for top-six duty and PK minutes.

■  Tuukka Rask, G: If the playoffs started tomorrow, the Bruins would go with Halak, not their longtime starter. Habitual slow starter has had excellent games and several awful ones, and the specter of soft goals looms.


■  Anders Bjork, LW/RW: Coming along, driving hard, getting there. Will a top-line ride with Krejci-Pastrnak unlock his potential? Would help the Bruins if he blossomed.

■  Danton Heinen, LW: Must avoid dry spells offensively, but 200-foot game is solid. Is he more than a well-rounded third-liner?

■  David Backes, RW: Pace and production are lacking at this stage of his career. Must contribute more on the PP to be effective.

Haven’t seen enough

■  Charlie McAvoy, D: Unfortunate injury put rising star in holding pattern.

■  Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, C: Making plays and adjusting to the physical demands. Should be more assertive.

■  Ryan Donato, LW/RW: A year in Providence may help. Shot and touch are there.

■  Urho Vaakanainen, D: Promising debut but still an unknown.

■  Jakub Zboril, D: Two games in, has yet to prove why he was 13th overall pick.

■  Connor Clifton, D: Good start for under-the-radar prospect. Energetic style is fun to watch.

Follow Matt Porter on Twitter at @mattyports