Looking back at the Bruins’ 2013-14 campaign, it’s easy to call it a failure, as the Presidents’ Trophy winners couldn’t make it past the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the playoffs.
But among some poor performances that led to their ealry exit, there were also players who did everything they needed to in the B’s quest for their second Cup in four seasons.
The Bruins Daily staff takes a look back at the year and hands out grades for the Bruins performance this season.
Boston.com’s Jeff Pini contributed to these reports.
After struggling throughout the 2013 Lockout shortened season, Milan Lucic bounced back during the playoffs and was one of the main contributors to the Bruins’ run to another Eastern Conference title. His play in last seasons’ playoffs carried over for most of the 2013-14 regular season where he notched 24 goals and 35 assists in 80 games.
Despite a solid regular season and a strong performance in the first round against the Red Wings, Lucic, along with fellow linemate David Krejci, was a no-show for the Canadiens series. He only scored once in their second round exit, and that was an empty netter in Game 2.
Instead of talking about the big hits and other aspects of Lucic’s game that The Hub of Hockey is accustomed to, the focus shifted on his less-than-subtle handshake towards Dale Weise and Alexei Emelin after the Habs eliminated the Black and Gold in Game 7. It was surely a sore spot in what was a pretty solid seventh season for the seventh-year power forward.
Centering arguably the regular seasons’ best line, David Krejci led the Bruins in scoring with 69 points as the Bruins captured their first Presidents’ Trophy since the 1989-90 season. Krejci gelled perfectly with line mates Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla.
After a successful regular season, everyone expected Krejci and company to pick up where they left off, unfortunately they didn’t, and because of that the Bruins were bumped in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Krejci finished the playoffs with no goals and four assists. Two of those assists came on empty net goals. Krejci simply didn’t do anything for the B’s in the playoffs. His poor playoff performance hurt what would have been a much better grade.
It took a little while for Jarome Iginla to light the lamp, but once he got going there was no looking back. At age 36, the ex-Flames captain notched another 30-goal season and his presence alone upped the play of his fellow linemates, David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
Iginla was one of the more consistent Bruins in the postseason and gave it everything he had each and every night. Unfortunately for B’s fans, the rest of the team couldn’t follow Iggy’s lead in round two, otherwise he could very well be another step closer to capturing Lord Stanley’s Cup for the first time in his career.
Given the year he had, re-signing Iginla should be the top priority for Peter Chiarelli and company before he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. But if Iggy wants a multi-year deal, then the Bruins may part ways.
It’s safe to say that Brad Marchand’s reputation got the best of him in the 2013-14 season.
Sure, there were some highlights from “The Little Ball of Hate’’ that included another 20-plus goal season. His shorthanded goal against the Los Angeles Kings back in January where he drew four LA defenders towards him will undoubtedly be in many top 10 packages at the end of the season.
Then there’s the other side of Marchand, which wasn’t as good. His missed opportunities against the Red Wings in Game 4 of their first round series luckily didn’t come back to haunt him. But the gesture of kissing his ring finger and the Stanley Cup in Vancouver and his other antics grew negatively among the hockey world. That culminated in Game 7 where, despite getting tripped into Carey Price, Marchand was called for interference in the first period – one of two reputation calls on the night.
He hasn’t scored a goal in the postseason for quite awhile. Because of that, he is the subject of trade rumors. Either way, Marchand will need to improve his reputation in 2014-15.
Patrice Bergeron had a remarkable season from start to finish. Where have we heard that before?
Bergeron finished the regular season with 30 goals and 32 assists. It was his first 30 goal season since the 2005-06 campaign. He finished only behind David Krejci for the team lead in points and his nine points in the playoffs only trailed Torey Krug who compiled 10 points.
Bergeron was relentless in all three zones as he is every year, but this year his hard work turned into results on route to another Selke Award nomination. His plus-38 rating ranked second in the NHL only behind Krejci. Bergeron’s 12-game point streak was a personal best where he had 10 goals and six assists, while he also scored eight goals in seven games in the process.
No. 37 leads by example, and if there is one player in the National Hockey League that you want to model your game after, it is Bergeron.
There really weren’t many expectations for Reilly Smith when he was traded from Dallas to Boston in the Tyler Seguin mega deal, but he made an instant impact for the Black and Gold.
Smith played in all 82 games for the Bruins, scoring 20 goals and assisting on 31 others. He had a red-hot start, but did hit a speed bump during the middle of the season. Smith regained his confidence and picked his play back up in the playoffs scoring four goals in 12 games.
His chemistry throughout the year with Bergeron and Brad Marchand was evident. At times, his line carried the Black and Gold, but there were sometimes he had trouble finishing and hitting the open man on the stick with a pass, but it’s a learning process. And it doesn’t hurt to learn from Bergeron on a daily basis.
Smith exceeded expectations winning the Seventh Player Award voted on by the fans of Boston and he deserved it.
Heading into this season, many analysts and pundits found themselves intrigued at the upside of Soderberg’s skillset translating into something special at the National Hockey League level. At 6’3, 216 lbs, it’s not common ground for players to exhibit the type of speed Soderberg possesses. Making Soderberg even more valuable is his ability to flank the wing position, even though he’s a natural centerman.
This season, Soderberg started out as a healthy scratch while the Bruins “showcased’’ Jordan Caron during the first five games of the season. On October 19, Soderberg hit the ground running in his regular season debut in Tampa Bay, notching an assist in a little over 14-minutes of ice time. Preceding his debut, Soderberg notched two assists against the Red Wings in Detroit, while seeing only 12:32 of ice time.
Injuries ravaged the Bruins throughout this season, making the multifaceted Soderberg a key cog to the Bruins offense, especially filling in at center on the third line during Chris Kelly’s absence. Following the Olympic break, Soderberg was one of Boston’s best forwards, tallying 18 points – seven on the powerplay – in just 18 games played. Even though his efforts didn’t always show up in box scores, Soderberg was one of Boston’s more consistent forwards during the postseason, tallying six points in 12 games played.
Following the trade of Tyler Seguin this offseason, expectations seemingly grew by the second for Eriksson to fill the offensive gap left behind by Seguin’s exile. For statistic hungry fans, many expected to see the former Dallas winger who tallied over 70-points in a season more than three times in his career. For those people who understand the concept of team defense, especially Claude Julien’s defense-first system, a 70-point season was never a realistic expectation.
Saying that, there’s no dancing around the fact that Eriksson’s first season in Boston was utterly a disappointment. It’s never easy transitioning to a new team and it’s even more difficult finding your stride in a new offense when you battle with the consequences of two concussions, an injury that Eriksson never experienced prior to the 2013-14 season.
Nevertheless, Eriksson still showed glimpses of making strides in the Bruins lineup, tallying 37-points in 61 games played while playing the majority of the season on the third line. Over the final two months of the regular season, Eriksson elevated his game to the tune of 17-points in 23 games played, but disappeared(5-points) during 12 postseason games played.
Heading into next season, there’s no doubt that the spotlight will glisten on Eriksson once again.
“Loui came in and it was a difficult transition for him and then he got hurt,’’ Bruins President Cam Neely stated. “We think he can be a better player.’’
Since scoring 20 goals and being a key member of the 2011 squad that won the Stanley Cup, Chris Kelly’s road in Boston has been a bumpy one. Inconsistency and injuries have held Kelly to just 12 goals in 91 goals since the 2010-11 season.
After injuring his back against the Minnesota Wild back on April 8, Kelly missed the Bruins’ remaining three regular season games and all of the Bruins’ playoff games. Kelly had successful surgery last week to repair a herniated disc in his back and is expected to be ready for training camp.
With one goal in the regular season and one goal in the playoffs, this is an easy one. It’s safe to say we’ve seen the last of Jordan Caron in a Bruins uniform.
Fraser played in 14 regular season games for the Black and Gold scoring two goals. Most people did not think we would see him again in 2014, but Fraser was recalled for Game 4 versus the Montreal Canadiens. It was a day and night he will never forget as he scored the lone goal of the game-a game-winner in overtime to even the series at two games apiece.
Fraser showed the Black and Gold something. He has a rocket of a shot, a quick release, but most importantly, he looked like he belonged.
Not only did he make an impact for the B’s in four playoff games by scoring one goal and adding another assist with a plus-two rating, he played those four games with a broken foot he suffered in the Opening round of the AHL playoffs down in Providence.
Fraser has a future with the B’s next season somewhere. We will just see how things shake out and how Chiarelli and Julien want to “tweak’’ their roster.
For the 23 games he donned the Black and Gold, Ryan Spooner gave the big club a boost up front with his speed and agility. Even with his flashes of brilliance, he somehow did not find the back of the net.
With the Bruins getting hit with the injury bug from late November to the middle of January, Spooner spent most of his time as a third line center alongside Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg. With very little experience at wing, Spooner was sent back down to Providence when Chris Kelly returned to the lineup.
The 22-year old tallied 11 assists when he donned the Spoked B. Whether its next year or in future seasons, expect Spooner to be a mainstay in the B’s lineup – assuming Peter Chiarelli decides to keep him.
Daniel Paille had a Daniel Paille type of year. He played in 72 games scoring nine goals and assisting on nine goals (18 points). His speed on the fourth line is what makes him lethal in some situations for the Black and Gold. His great penalty killing is another attribute that cannot go unnoticed.
During the playoffs, his line hit a little bit of a rough patch, not producing up to the standards he did during the regular season. In seven games for Paille, he tallied one goal (one point) while sporting a minus-one rating.
It seems as if Shawn Thornton is on his way out of Boston, which means Paille and the fourth line also known as the “Merlot Line’’ may have a make over if you will. It will be interesting to see if Paille moves up to the third line or if he will get more speed to accompany him on the fourth line along with Gregory Campbell.
His 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs ended with a broken leg, but not before a courageous effort – one that will live in Bruins lore for quite sometime. When Gregory Campbell returned a few months later he was seen blocking shots, playing good defense, dropping the gloves and the other little things that he does so well.
He’s not the flashiest of players, but for a fourth line center he does alright. That said, he, along with Paille and Thornton, did not have the best year in the four years with the Merlot Line. Their potential swan song may best be remembered for being outplayed by the Habs fourth line of Dale Weise, Daniel Briere and Michael Bournival throughout the seven-game series.
With NHL General Managers moving away from employing “pure’’ enforcers, 2013-14 most likely marked the final season for Shawn Thornton in a Boston Bruins uniform. This season, Thornton found himself as the lead story on national publications for all the wrong reasons, making the decision to resign him that much more easier for Peter Chiarelli. Whether it was landing a blindside punch after a slew foot, which landed Thornton a 15-game suspension or spraying a water bottle in the face of PK Subban during a playoff game, Thornton’s no longer an asset for the Bruins.
Overall, the two-time Stanley Cup winner appeared in 64 games, tallying eight points while racking up 74 penalty minutes during the regular season and one assist in 12 postseason games played.
Heading into this offseason, Chiarelli and Co. should rely on the plethora of cheap, young talent hiding in Providence, rather than sign Thornton to an extension. Whether it’s Justin Florek, Matt Fraser, Bobby Robins, Alexander Khokhlachev, Ryan Spooner or Seth Griffith, it doesn’t really matter, each player will come at a cheaper price tag than Thornton, while gaining NHL experience.
Zdeno Chara finished the year on a tough note looking un Chara-like against the Montreal Canadiens. It may have been fatigue from him logging close to 25 minutes a night, but he also suffered a compound fracture to one of his fingers while taking a slash in Game 3 against the Habs which was further damaged when he was slashed on the same hand during Game 7.
That shouldn’t be the lasting image we see or the image of Chara-deflecting an own goal past Tuukka Rask to seal the deal for the Habs in Game 7. Big Z had a great 2014. He finished the year with 17 goals (10 PP, 3GWG), 23 assists and a plus-25 rating.
His work on the power-play and penalty kill are a big reason why the Bruins were near the top of the league in both categories.
Chara was a Norris Trophy Finalist and he still is one of-if not the best- defensemen in the NHL even at the age of 37.
His strength, work ethic, frame, reach and hockey IQ make him tough to score on. For all of the “fans’’ thinking Chara needs to go, think about retracting your statement.
After going through some growing pains in his rookie season, Dougie Hamilton took a big step forward in his sophomore campaign. The Toronto-born defenseman notched 25 points (7 goals, 18 assists) in 64 games and saw his role increase as the season progressed, skating along with Zdeno Chara.
In 12 playoff games, Hamilton notched seven points (two goals, five assists) and had a coming out party in Game 3 against the Red Wings with his end to end goal. His other postseason tally came in Game 2 against the Canadiens where his third period goal got the ball rolling in the Bruins’ third period comeback.
Hamilton took a big step forward in 2013-14. With Dennis Seidenberg returning from his torn ACL for next season, and with captain Zdeno Chara getting a year older, Hamilton will look to take a bigger step in his third season with the Black and Gold in 2014-15.
In a season where the Bruins defense was decimated by injuries, Boychuk remained a constant playing in 75 games while mentoring the young defensemen in their first real shot in the spot light.
Boychuk finished the year with five goals and 18 assists (a career high in assists, points and tied for goals), but brought an edge to the blue line. Along with Chara, Boychuk was the next “veteran’’ in line with Dennis Seidenberg out for the year with an injury.
“Johnny Rocket’’ was not afraid to let one rip or throw his body around in any situation. He may not be the flashiest of defenseman, but he is durable. Something the Bruins backline lacked in 2014.
Every other game it seemed Boychuk was diving to block a shot, taking one of the leg hobbling off or even being taken out on a stretcher like we saw in Montreal earlier in the year, but Boychuk was either back for his next shift or back for the next game. It was tough to keep this player off the ice.
The 30 year-old was ninth in the NHL with a plus-31 which ranked his second among defensemen. He was never a liability on the back end or exposed like we saw some of the Bruins’ young defensemen late in the playoffs.
Krug – a restricted free agent – will look to cash in this offseason after turning in a fine rookie season for Boston this season. After thrusted onto the scene during last season’s playoffs, Krug brought a steady offensive presence on a nightly basis and a different dynamic to the Bruins power play during the regular season.
In 79 games, Krug ranked first overall amongst Bruins defensemen -along with Chara- with 40(14 goals – 26 assists) points. On the powerplay is where the 23-year-old displayed his creative offensive skillset, racking up 19 powerplay points and tying David Krejci for the overall team lead, even while ranking seventh overall amongst Bruins defensemen in time-on-ice.
Even though his play dipped a bit in the final two months of the season, the Michigan-bred Krug elevated his game during the playoffs, leading all Bruins skaters with 10 (2 goals – 8 assists) points.
At the top of the Chiarelli’s offseason to-do list should be getting Krug to reside in Boston for the foreseeable future with a contract extension in the range of 3-4 years. With Dougie Hamilton making strides this season, the Bruins have the potential to lock up two of the best upcoming young defensemen in the game.
Many individuals did not know the name Kevan Miller before the start of the 2013-14 season. Well, by the end of it, he was a fan favorite except for his costly turnover in Game 6 against the Montreal Canadiens.
Miller made a name for himself the minute he was called up for the Black and Gold after an injury to Adam McQuaid earning him an immediate contract with the team.
Miller is everything Neeley, Chiarelli and Julien love on the back end. He is physical, he will throw his body around and he will make the necessary pass. He is not the puck moving defenseman Dougie Hamilton is, but Miller brings an edge to the blue line for the B’s.
In 47 games, Miller scored one goal and had five assists. His plus-20 was ranked 11th on the team.
At age 26, Miller logged close to 17 minutes a night sometimes seeing north of 20 minutes to spell Chara. He was trusted by Julien and even with a healthy McQuaid next year, we may see Miller take McQuaid’s spot in the future.
For a last pairing defenseman, Bartkowski isn’t a terrible option, but like Krug, he’s a restricted free agent this offseason and will be due for a bump in pay. This season, Bartkowski appeared in 64 games, tallying 18 points while ranking fourth overall amongst Bruins defensemen in time-on-ice averaging 19:32 during the regular season. Like past seasons, the Ohio State alum failed to find the back of the net, extending his career goalless drought to 84 games.
Scouting reports, like you commonly heard from NHL pundits, indicated that Bartkowski is a smooth, puck-moving defenseman who can aide in the transitional side of the game. I guess that’s why we’re not scouts because we don’t see that type of skillset in Bartkowski. To us, Bartkowski is a fringe sixth defenseman who needs to improve on his decision making in the defensive zone before becoming an NHL regular.
Nonetheless, in the playoffs Bartkowski received an increase in playing time, ranking third overall, while only registering an assist in eight games played. During the Eastern Conference seminfinals series against Montreal, Bartkowski racked up 10 penalty minutes over the course of three games and often looked overmatched retrieving the puck in his own corner against the relentless Canadiens forecheck.
With a healthy Seidenberg and McQuaid returning to the lineup, the Bruins possess an overabundance of defensemen, which Chiarelli should clear up before training camp by trading a defenseman.
For a sixth defenseman, Adam McQuaid played the role to a T when he arrived on the scene during the Bruins’ Cup run in 2010-11. McQuaid presence gave GM Peter Chiarelli an initiative to deal defenseman Mark Stuart to the Winnipeg Jets – formerly known as the Atlanta Thrashers – as “Darth Quaider’’ was inserted in the lineup for good.
Three years and several injuries later, McQuaid finds himself in a similar situation with Stuart. After suffering a season ending injury back in January in Chicago, McQuaid’s spot was taken by Kevan Miller, who, like McQuaid, is a big body who can drop the gloves and throw his weight around.
It will be interesting to see what Chiarelli does with McQuaid. He could buy him out, put him on the trade block or keep him at least to start next season. We highly doubt the latter will happen, but we’ll see.
With a very thin market on the blueline at the trade deadline, Peter Chiarelli opted to add depth to his defensive core. Instead of paying a hefty price for a guy like Alex Edler, the Bruins GM opted to acquire Andrej Meszaros from Philadelphia for a draft pick.
Going from one system to another proved too much for Meszaros. Sure, he had some good moments, like scoring against his former team late in the season, but he was in way over his head against the Canadiens in the second round. The ex-Flyer was replaced with an equally struggling Matt Bartkowski during the series, that’s all you really need to know.
It was a shame we only got to see Seidenberg for 34 games this season before he tore his ACL in a game just before the calendar turned to January.
If the Bruins were missing one thing during their playoff run, it was No. 44 on the back end bringing his toughness and experience.
The 32 year-old defenseman scored one goal and had nine assists while sporting a plus-11 in his 34 games played, but was just a presence on the ice for the Black and Gold much like we say with Zdeno Chara.
If the Bruins were to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, reports were Seidenberg would’ve been active. It is crazy to think after tearing his ACL Seidenberg would be back on the ice five months later. That speaks volumes to his physical condition and his work ethic.
Seidenberg will be ready for training camp and will deepen the B’s back line. He will anchor the top with Chara while helping the young defensemen in the process.
Seidenberg was sorely missed against the Canadiens. Although he played for less than half a season, Bruins fans’ know the impact he can make on the blue line.
This last offseason, Peter Chiarelli signed Rask to a 8-year, $56-million contract extension and that contract is already starting to look like a bargain. The Bruins may have fell short of a Stanley Cup the past two seasons with Rask in goal, but the Finnish netminder earned every penny of his contract this season, which should result in a Vezina Trophy at the NHL Awards on June 24 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rask turned in arguably the best regular season(36-15-6, 2.04 GAA, .930 SV%, 7 Shutouts) of his career – leading to the best overall record in the NHL – even with a depleted defensive corps(Boston dressed 12 different defensemen) playing in front of him. After returning from the Olympics in Sochi, Rask picked up points in nine-out-of-ten games, including a span which he picked up seven straight victories during March. Boston led the Eastern Conference in fewest total goals allowed, second in the NHL overall, while also ranking first in the Eastern Conference and third in the NHL, in win percentage(22-6-2) when getting out shot in a game.
In the playoffs, the 27-year-old was Boston’s most consistent player, bolstering a 1.99 GAA and .928 SV% with two shutouts in 12 games.
Very few people knew what to expect from Johnson heading into the 2013-14 season after the organization let Anton Khudobin walk. Well, Johnson made Peter Chiarelli, Claude Julien and company look like geniuses.
Johnson was magnificent for the Black and Gold this season recording a 17-4-3 record spelling Tuukka Rask including two shutouts. His save percentage of .925 and his goals against average of 2.10 both ranked him sixth in the National Hockey League.
The 27 year-old allowed two goals or less in 17 of his games played while posting an 11-0-3 record from January 16th until April 10th of this season.
While Johnson knew he was the backup coming in, he did everything he could to gain more playing time down the stretch. His teammates had confidence in him every time he was back between the pipes.
Sure, he had a few rough games where it seemed like he couldn’t stop any shot or fans questioned why he was getting the starts over Rask, but that happens. He certainly made up for that.
It will be interesting to see if the Bruins will re-sign Johnson to another contract with Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban waiting in the wings down in Providence.