This is part two, part one which had 8-10 and an honorable mention is here.

Number seven: Mad For Marchand

One of the most mesmerizing stories for fans was the hellion from Halifax making the team. He wasn’t supposed to. Arniel, Hamill, Suave, Caron, Colborne were all counted to be well ahead of Marchand on the depth chart. Legend has it he told Julien before the season started he was going to score twenty goals. He started the season on the fourth line. Unless you’re the Lemieux-Jagr era Penguins, not many teams have 20 goal scorers on the fourth line. He managed to just barely squeeze Daniel Paille out of playing time early in the season. Over the course of the regular season he got under the skin of opponents, into the stat sheet often and into the hearts of millions of Bruins fans. In the playoffs he put himself in company with Lemieux and Roenick for rookie goal scoring in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Number six: Pacioretty Hit

No other hit was as analyzed, dramatized and polarizing in the last decade of NHL hockey as this one. From the word go Chara was vilified, the Montreal populace whipped into a fury by the most irresponsible media in north America. The police were involved, an investigation continued for months, and months not ending until November for an incident that occurred back in March.  The NHL concluded there was no intent to injure, Chara was not suspended or fined, but so hostile was the environment that when the playoffs started and the Bruins were set to square off with the Canadiens they didn’t even stay in the province and went instead to Lake Placid New York for practice and rest in peace and safety.

Number 5: Marc Savard

One of the saddest stories in recent memory for the Bruins played out as the team climbed to the greatest heights. Marc Savard had come back earlier than he should have from his concussion to take part in the disaster that ended the previous season. He missed more than twenty games to start the new season, and then was hit by former teammate Matt Hunwick. The hit was clean, but it was a clarifying moment that Savard should not play again soon.

As time passed it became apparent “not soon” could transition to “not again”. As more time expired updates went from “no change” to “still experiencing symptoms”. Undoubtedly, the loss of Savard led to the Kaberle trade as Savards offensive wizardly was the corner stone of the Bruins powerplay. As he began to improve slightly he made appearances at games, sitting with Bergeron in the luxury box when Bergeron sat out two games during his own concussion. As spring turned to summer Savard took to twitter (@MSavvy91) and become one of the most entertaining players with welcome insight into the Bruins, and a knack for knowing who’s going to get hot.

Two thousand eleven was the most exciting, enthralling and simply satisfying year to be a Boston Bruins game in almost four decades. Some of the stories that made the year special are due a little more talking about.

Honorable Mention: Zach to Zenith

In 2007 the Bruins picked a small, skilled center from the Everett Silvertips as their first round pick. This was a draft that saw Patrick Kane go first, and follow his top selection up with a cup clinching goal before Hamill would ever make back to back NHL games. Injuries and ill luck in Providence saw Hamill’s stock drop dramatically in the eyes of observers and the team. Then a funny thing happened. He came into camp and outplayed not just his fellow AHL players but more than one of the NHL players. Since then he’s gotten two call ups, played all three forward positions and earned his stay. From the man many would consider the most conservative, veteran reliant coach in the league he’s earned the ultimate trinity of accolades: trust, regular shifts and special teams play.

Number 10:  Drafting Dougie

When the Toronto Maple Leafs put on a late season surge that yanked them out of the lottery and had them threatening to reach the playoffs. The Bruins had a huge need for a top defensive prospect. With the top of their blueline aging, and the pipeline containing middle pairing or lower potential players the hope of a top defensive prospect being drafted waned with every Leafs win. The June draft saw a few odd things happen, an out of zone pick by the Jets.

Several teams in need of defense opted for forwards, and as number eight was called, and the Flyers opted for Couterier, Bruins fans went mad. Four of the defensemen expected to go in the top ten were still on the board. The excitement was not limited to fans. The normally straight laced and reserved Peter Chiarelli walked to the podium. He didn’t have just his elusive smile, but a full bodied laugh as he stood up to perform one of the most important duties of a general manager. He picked Dougie Hamilton. When he was asked later he said what every GM says when they select a player “I never expected him to be there.” I believe him.

Number 9: Kaberle Trade

Possibly the most speculated trade in Boston Bruins history came to pass. In order to make room for Kaberle the Bruins had to jettison Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler to Atlanta-now-Winnipeg to have cap space. The trade was designed to fix the Bruins ailing powerplay. It did not. With the quote-unquote assistance of the former Maple Leafs powerplay quarterback the Bruins went on to have the worst powerplay in memory.  With a salary of over four million dollars he became the fifth defensemen in icetime sharing even strength shifts with rookie Adam Mcquaid.

During his tenure, Julien defended him, players defended him. Peter Chiarelli even defended the former Toronto Maple Leaf. Fans were not so impressed. The media was not so impressed. In the end the divide between lip service and throwing good money after bad was demonstrated as Kaberle would sign with Carolina Hurricanes.

Number 8: Lucic Hits 30

When you walk into training camp the fall after you are drafted and the comparisons to a guy who’s number is in the rafters, living up to the hype can take a little work. When you skate poorly and have a slew of nagging injuries in your third year, your fourth year, the first of a new contract is crucial. Boston is no stranger to either great or disappointing players. The former are lauded for decades past their last game, the latter are often run out of town (see above).

With a big contract to justify Lucic had a lot to live up to. With a wretched team playoff performance directly in the rear view mirror, he and the team had a lot to live down. With the aid of the newly arrived large bodied Nathan Horton and the slick passing David Krejci, Lucic finally started to live up the hype by potting thirty regular season goals. He finished the season leading the Bruins in goals, and ahead of John Tavares, Alex Semin, Brad Richards and Patrick Kane.

What time for these two teams to meet. It will realistically tell us nothing about either team, but should be a greatly entertaining game anyway. The Bruins will be without Zdeno Chara, and likely Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille as well. That’s three big parts of the penalty kill, 25 minutes or so of top shelf defensive work, some speed, so physicality and a whole lot of veteran savvy.

In their place we’ll likely see Steve Kampfer on defense. The compactly built, smooth skating and offensively minded young defensemen has seen just five games of action this season. It’s likely he be eased into things, and will not end up with too much penalty kill time. Last year against the Kings Kampfer played over twenty three minutes in a game which the Bruins were shutout. A good estimate for his ice time is about 12-14 minutes.

Jordan Caron will likely return to the Merlot Line with Shawn Thornton. Caron who has been integrated into the penalty kill unit played a very solid 10 minutes in each of his last two games. With Campbell likely down checked it’s a toss up as whether he or emergency call up Zach Hamill will take the faceoffs. Hamill drafted as a center has played wing this season in Providence and in each of his recalls to Boston this season.

Overshadowing the mild chaos in Boston, the Kings are looking to find their way. Yesterday the Kings fired Terry Murray and appointed John Stevens interim head coach. Big ticket summer pickup Mike Richards is injured and not expected back too soon. Drew Doughty has been something significantly less than the perennial Norris Trophy candidate many expect him to be. Having an extended contract dispute that ran into camp, and then an early injury haven’t helped his season. The slick skated defensemen has more than struggled offensively, he currently sits 79th in scoring among NHL defensemen. The Kings sit 21st on the powerplay, and the goals for is actually worse at 30th. The lone building block keeping them out of lottery position is the play of Jonathan Quick. Their goaltender has been lights out, even if he doesn’t win the Vezina this year if the Kings make it to the playoffs the Hart should have his name etched in.

The Bruins have half a lot of choices to make between now and July first. They are on a pure rampaged through the league with a roster very little changed from the one that one them the Stanley Cup. Most of the team is fairly young, and it’s hard to argue that any of the unsigned players are having a negative effect on the team. Of players currently on the roster, there are two RFA, and six UFA’s.

The restricted free agents are Tuukka Rask and Benoit Pouliot. If you stretch the list to Zach Hamill who has done well in his call up games this year, and would likely be less expensive than most players that could be signed from outside. Rask has the most variables attached to his potential deal, he’s got great numbers and is arguably the best backup or 1b option in the NHL. On the other hand he’s yet to have a solid pro playoff season, has never started more than 39 games in a season. Additionally he’s had knee surgery before his 25th birthday.  Given the lack of depth in the system, unless he starts looking for over 3.5 million, I suspect he’s resigned. Realistically, a two year deal at 2.25 a year is desirable from both ends.

Pouliot is in an odd position, if he does well, even if he doesn’t live up to the hype of a fourth overall pick, he can probably get signed just about anywhere for an increase over this years contact. He’s currently on pace for his best pro goals performance, but that’s not exactly world beating. From his point of view, if he does well this season, there’s a lot of incentive to stick around given Julien’s known preference for older players over rookies, he’s likely to improve more in a second year in the system. Hamill, who has been a top scorer in the rather disorganized Providence system for the last two season. Either one could sign for as much as $1.75 depending on the role envisioned.

The unrestricted free agents are where the likeliest roster changes will be made. Chris Kelly is the UFA to be making the most noise at this point, and is one of four UFA forwards including entire fourth line. Campbell and Paille will both be 28 when next season opens, and have been important parts of the penalty kill, with limited offense. Campbell is more gritty, and can usually be counted on for solid faceoff numbers, Paille is much faster and can nearly kill a penalty himself if the other team makes one misstep. Shawn Thornton will turn 35 after his contract will go into effect. His offense isn’t what has Thornton in the NHL, but in that category he dwarfs most similar players. I honestly have no idea what the three could be signed to, but if anyone of the freeMerlot Line signs for as much as two million I’ll be surprised. Kelly, was discussed recently at length.

The defensemen due new contracts monetarily might do best to let the market set their value. With Suter, Brad Stuart, Josh Gorges, Chris Campoli, the resurgent Sheldon Souray and other leading the pack if they sign close on the heels of those players, they might do well for themselves, wherever they sign. Johnny Boychuk is 27, and a former AHL defensemen of the year, last season he didn’t have the offense expected of him, but has bounced back pretty well so far this season. Joe Corvo will be thirty five when his next contract starts and has been very uneven in games this year, he was picked up for a for 4th round pick. Depending on where Boychuk finishes the season points in points and minutes and length of deal, his contract will probably be in the three million neighborhood. With zero goals, and the implications of a 35+ contract, I’m expecting to see Corvo in another uniform next season.

The Bruins got off to a god awful start in October, had ten wins in a row to start November and after 21 games they look a whole lot better.

Patrice Bergeron: The longest tenured skater for the team has done it all, all season. Even when the team was doing it’s zombie shuffle through October there was never a night he looked bad, disinterested or poorly conditioned. He’s done it in all areas and ways. Huge hits, five goals, a team lead in assists, second leading scorer on the team, dominant in faceoffs, and has been a key piece in reviving the powerplay even when he doesn’t figure into the powerplay goal. Leads the team in powerplay time, leads forwards in short handed time…  Grade: A

Gregory Campbell: Second among forwards in shorthanded time, has like the rest of the team had a better November than October. Unfortunately the Merlot Line’s October was a key reason for the teams failure to thrive. Grade C-

Jordan Caron: While he’s been in and out of the line up, and had numerous linemates, it’s tough to get a grip on where he fit into the equation. He’s getting an incomplete, but if I had to grade his total effort I’d give him a C weighted on his rookie status and the chaos that was the first month. Grade: Incomplete

Zach Hamill: Looked ok in Camp, was the pace setter in Providence before being called up, contributed while he was here showing more speed, toughness, and ability than his detractors would ever of credited him with. got an assist and was plus 3 in just two games. Not enough time to fairly grade him. Grade: Incomplete

Nathan Horton: Has had the most uneven of seasons. A month of being wretched, a couple weeks of being about what we expect of him. In just his second season here has gotten Julien to coach via the media which is highly unusual for him. Frustrating to watch. Grade: D+

Chris Kelly: Has been one of the guys shuffled around a great deal this year skating with: Horton, Lucic, Hamill, Caron, Peverley, Marchand and Pouliot among others. Has performed above what anyone most expected of him. Tied for third in goals on the team, tied for second in plus minus huge penalty kill minutes, a shorthanded goal, a game winning goal, a good fight… Grade: A

David Krejci: Last years leading scorer in the playoffs has been a no show this season. He did enter the season with a nagging “core” injury that eventually caused him to miss a game. Has looked very slow, disinterested and is currently tenth on the team in scoring. Has points in just five of his games this season, and has only had one streak of consecutive games scoring (3). Grade: F

Milan Lucic: Like Horton has had an up and down season, but has kept the up higher and done what he needs for himself and the team to succeed of late. Has played with passion and interest for most of the last three or four weeks and despite his linemates he’s second on the team in goals, and tied for third in points overall. May want to threaten to beat his linemates in practice if they don’t play better. Grade: C+

Brad Marchand: One of the four forwards who hasn’t taken nights off this season. Even when he doesn’t score you hear his name, you notice him play no matter who else is on the ice. Successfully plays the body, the puck and his opponents minds took on and beat the larger PK Subban in a good fight. Tied for third on the team in scoring, has the most underrated passing skills on the team, second among forwards for time on ice, second on the team in takeaways. Grade: A

Daniel Paille: As part of the Merlot Line he and was less dependable than needed in October, but certainly not the whole of a problem that stretched up and down the lineup. Got a nasty facial injury a few weeks back missed a couple games and jumped back in the lineup without a hint of rust. On pace for his best goals performance as a Bruin in this his third season here. Grade C-

Rich Peverley: The Swiss army knife of the Bruins lineup has played up and down the lineup, on both wings and three lines. Is scoring at a pace that will bring him near his career highs. November has been much better than October for him. This month he’s been a minus player just once, in October he was four times including three straight.  Should probably ask guys what athletic supporter they use instead of attempting to guess with the blade of his stick. Grade: B

Benoit Pouliot: I don’t honestly understand how or why he’s beaten out Hamill and Caron for the 12th forward position, but his effort is commendable. Uses his speed and willingness to drive the net to open up chances. Has taken a lot of just plain stupid penalties. Grade: D

Marc Savard: Teams most engaging Twitter use. Has a good handle on the teams mood and his ability to predict the performance of the team is uncanny. Grade A

Tyler Seguin: Leads the team in scoring and plus/minus. Has made enormous strides year over year in his defensive play as well. Needs to focus on better passing and not be so impatient. The itchiness to get rid of the puck tends to lead to sometimes costly turnovers. Could stand to throw the body or rub guys out along the boards more often.  I end up saying it twice a game but if he could pass as well as he can shoot and skate the Bruins could win games by double digits.  Grade A-

Shawn Thornton: The third member of the Merlot Line has done his best to stem the tide in games, and has been the leader we saw last season this month, but was one of the more notable flops in October. Grade C

It’s a mystery to Bruins fans the globe around how it is that Benoit Pouliot is back in the lineup. Here’s the top ten  reasons why:

10: Claude Julien feels bad for guys the Habs dropped.

9: He got a no competition clause inserted in his contract.

8: Julien is waiting for him to take more penalty minutes than shifts to bench him.

7: The guys in the press box pick on him too much.

6: Jordan Caron, Zach Hamill and every other member of the Bruins organization not on the roster are zombies and the Bruins front office is trying to keep the plague from spreading.

5: He’s in the lineup to make Caron and Hamill look better in preperation for a trade.

4:  He’s a number four draft pick.

3: Dennis Wideman told him how to stick to the starting roster.

2: Jordan Caron is actually employed only to babysit Juliens daughter when they are on the road.

1: Benoit Pouliot makes up the starting roster.

It’s been a pretty solid week to be a Bruins fan. They’ve outscored their opponents three to one this month. They have four wins in a row, Two U’s Two K’s Two Points has come together twice this month. Zach Hamill made his season debut and NHL debut as a right winger and had nine and a half quality NHL minutes playing with Jordan Caron and Chris Kelly and looking the trio looked like a line that had played together for weeks.

How’d they win? Pretty easily. The Oilers game was probably the hardest of the four games to win. Not only were the Oilers the most resilient opponent and were able to throw completely different looks at the Bruins. The Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle line is very much a speed line, while you can’t call them floaters and retain any vestige of credibility, when Hall is the largest body on the line at 194 lbs you’re not facing the physical presence of Ryan, Perry, Getzlaf. Ryan Smyth and company are a much more physical line and more likely to park themselves in the crease and stay there to get the Mike Knuble style goals. When they were down two goal they didn’t stop pressing and managed to tie the score.  Probably the most entertaining game for the casual fan to watch in this nice little four game run.

Thank You Kessel was both the prediction and the reality against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was a blow out for the Bruins, seven goals, most of them close together. Worse was the way the Leafs didn’t really try. Their skaters and goaltenders allowed seven goals on just twenty shots.  That’s even very nearly as vulgar as the Flyers and Lightning refusing to move either with or towards the puck the other night.

Coming up next is a game against the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres will be coming in off a game against the Senators. The Sabres find themselves facing the first goaltender controversy since the end of the Hasek era. Jhonas Enroth has stepped into the spotlight and in five games allowed just seven goals. Ryan Miller in his last start allowed five goals. Enroth is sporting an eye popping .952 save percentage and across his 10 appearances Miller has a pedestrian .913 and has gone 5 and 5 while Enroth’s record is unblemished.

Next week finishes two games that could be labeled “trap games” against the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets. The more immediate worry is the return of the injury bug. Andrew Ference is out for Saturday. Rich Peverely isn’t taking contact in practice. Paille is not even practicing. That’s a lot of minutes, particularly off the penalty kill which gets contributions from all three. Sliding into those roster slots have been Caron who has at least been with the team since camp, Zach Hamill who had a solid season debut, Steve Kampfer who hasn’t cracked the lineup in a while and Benoit Pouliot who essentially lost the battle to Caron for the 12th forward roster spot. That’s a lot of turnover, and how well it works, particularly against good teams remains to be seen.

The fact that the Boston Bruins powerplay is mostly useless has been as well kept a secret as Pittsburgh hosting the 2012 NHL All-Star game. The Bruins powerplay has been dissected here, and elsewhere ad nauseum. Something I haven’t seen, and wonder why not is what a former keystone of the Bruins powerplay brought that the current centers and top forwards don’t.

While Tyler Seguin is undoubtedly a faster skater, and more willing shooter than Marc Savard there is one important things he’s not. Patrice Bergeron is getting the lions share of powerplay time for the Bruins this year which has brought it well above the level it performed at over the playoffs, but neither he nor Sequin possess the trait that might just help get the Bruins into the top ten (or higher) powerplays in the leauge. Guess what, even though he’s capable of some nifty passes David Krejci, like Bergeron and Seguin is a right handed center.

Marc Savard is a lefty. While it’d be nice to get him back in the mix on a lot of counts, it’s unlikely it will happen soon. Than means the Bruins need to look at options other than Bergeron, Krejci and Seguin to be able to get shots and passes from the same angles as Savard provided. Rich Peverley who is irregularly slotted into the center position is a right handed shot as well. Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand are both lefties. Marchand while frequently listed as a center hasn’t taken regular shifts in that position while in a Boston uniform Kelly is a lot of things, most of them of high value to his club, but offensively explosive is not on the list. Zach Hamill while a solid passer is again a right handed shot, everyone else in the system is either two or more years from the NHL or injured.

Elsewhere in the NHL, there are a couple possibilities. Dale Tallon has shown a great deal of shyness in turning over the roster of the Florida Panthers. Stephen Weiss is a left handed center about the same size as David Krejci, is one of the last Panthers who is a legacy of the previous management, and has put up pretty solid numbers despite lacking talent around him.  His cap hit is more than manageable, but with his and the teams good start he might be reluctant to waive his no movement clause even to be reunited with Campbell and Horton even if it means moving to a slightly more hockey focused market.

The Colorado Avalanche have a great powerplay,  have some difficulty five on five, and possess two remarkably similar left handed centers. Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny are within about an inch of each other in height a couple pounds in weight, and produce similar results all across the stat sheet. The two biggest differences are in salary and age. Despite better goaltending this year, they are again in the bottom third of the league for goals against and penalty killing. A deal between Boston and Colorado that brought back one of these centers, and sent over a penalty killer should benefit both teams.

A possibility that has a few more faults built into it is a trade with the Capitals.  Washington is already a power house regular season team that has put a lot of work into adding players who get it in the playoffs as well. It is highly likely that head coach Bruce Boudreau and General Manager George McPhee could have the opportunity to explore new positions if the team can’t make it at least to the Stanley Cup finals, something the franchise has never done. For them, adding a player who has succeed not just against them, and won the Stanley Cup but led the NHL in post season points in David Krejci if he were exchanged for Brooks Laich. If that’s what McFee and Chiarelli decided on, the Bruins gain their left handed center, finally gain a top three center over 200 pounds, get a left handed player who plays in all situations (as Krejci has), and the Capitals gain a playoff performer, cap space and possibly gain the missing element needed to go deep in the playoffs.

The Bruins are in an unusual place in that they have all the cap room they need to make internal tweaks to the roster. It has been ten games, and it’s clear not only are some players doing better than others, but some are trying harder than others. I’ve been to Bruins practices where the effort was more game worthy than some of the shifts various players have put in this season.

If the problem is a S****** C** H******* then maybe some players need a day or two of rest. With the collective bargain agreement expiring, and so many unsigned UFA’s to be at the end of the season it is never too soon to start evaluating what is in the pipeline at the NHL level. Some of them can just be given maintenance days, anyone late for practice or to the arena for games can be suspended by the team.

Two Providence Bruins forwards are clearly leading the way in the AHL. One is a rookie currently second on the team in scoring, the other is an AHL veteran who was second on the team in points last year despite a call up to Boston, and has to be considered a key driver behind their being in second in their division. Carter Camper is the rookie out of Miami of Ohio, currently playing wing. Zach Hamill has through ten games improved his points per game from .63 to .82.

We have forwards making more than the combined cap hit of these two who have only one or two points through ten regular season games. It is time to let them rest, and let these two into the opportunity to shine at the NHL level as they’ve earned.  Even if they are eventually sent back to Providence or dealt to bring in a different element the NHL time can hardly hurt them, and the odds of them being less effective than certain players who have been on the ice but not in the game this year are small enough to make the lottery look like a good investment for everyone.

Defensively there has been slightly less dismaying play, but it should be noted goals against is up over last year and the teams goalie tandem can’t really be blamed for that. Boychuk who didn’t turn the puck over that much last year is on pace for his giveaway total to increase by over a third.  Of the defensemen to have played each game so far none has a lower hits and blocked shots number than Joe Corvo, this despite being third for ice time.

If you thought you noticed the Bruins are blocking less shots than last year, you’d be right. Overall the forwards and defenemen are doing a much worse job at blocking shot this season. They are currently 17% below last years number.  Changing players out at defense from the AHL could be a bit more difficult, but the vote of confidence Colby Cohen or Kevin Miller would get by playing 12-14 minutes at the NHL level in two or three game can’t hurt their game. Equally true, if rookies and young players can benefit from a dozen or so games a year in the press box watching the X’s and O’s take shape the refresher course for seasoned veterans shouldn’t take nearly as long.