Ranking the Boston Bruins' Biggest Offensive Threats

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2013

Ranking the Boston Bruins' Biggest Offensive Threats

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    The Boston Bruins are known for their physical, hard-hitting style.

    Head coach Claude Julien insists that all his players must be responsible defensively and play all 200 feet. The Bruins are much more likely to win a game by a 2-1 score than by a 7-5 margin.

    But the Bruins do have an offensive side, even if it gets overlooked much of the time. In this feature, we rank the Bruins' top offensive players, based on their offensive production and the potential they have shown this year.

8. RW Reilly Smith

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    2013-14 stats: 25 games, five goals, 12 assists, plus-four

    Offensive impact: Reilly Smith was acquired in the trade that sent Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars and also brought Loui Eriksson to the Bruins. Smith has been impressive since his first day in training camp.

    He is an excellent skater with a surprising wrist shot. He moves hard to the net and anticipates where the play will go.

    He has nearly doubled the number of points he had last year with the Stars, and he should only get better from this point.

7. LW Carl Soderberg

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    2013-14 stats: 19 games, three goals, nine assists, minus-one

    Offensive impact: Carl Soderberg joined the Bruins late last year, but he did not get a chance to become fully assimilated into Claude Julien's system until the start of training camp this year. Soderberg had remarkable numbers while playing in Sweden, and he wanted to test himself against NHL competition.

    Soderberg has instincts that make him dangerous when he has the puck in the offensive zone. While he is not a blazing skater, he has excellent puck-handling skills, which allows him to create time and space for himself.

    He is getting more comfortable as he gains more NHL experience. He has a lot of creativity, and his offensive game is more developed than his defensive game. While that would seem to go against Julien's credo, the coach has been quite encouraging to Soderberg since the start of the season.

6. D Zdeno Chara

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    2013-14 stats: 25 games, five goals, four assists, minus-three

    Offensive impact: Zdeno Chara is a huge offensive factor for the Bruins. While he may not always figure in the scoring, he is a constant threat anytime the Bruins have control of the puck.

    Start off with his powerful slap shot. When he has a chance to wind up and unleash it, it is the hardest shot in the league. The shot intimidates opposing goalies and defensemen who try to get in front.

    Chara will also send his hard wrister on net. This can create rebound and tip-in opportunities for his teammates.

    Chara can play down low on the power play or when the Bruins have the goaltender pulled in the final seconds and they are looking for the tying goal. Chara was directly in front of Toronto goaltender James Reimer when Patrice Bergeron fired home the tying goal in the seventh game of the playoff series with the Maple Leafs last year.

    While Chara's main function with the Bruins is as a shutdown defenseman, he cannot be overlooked as an offensive contributor.

5. LW Loui Eriksson

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    2013-14 stats: 20 games, five goals, eight assists, plus-five

    Offensive impact: Loui Eriksson has been explosive for much of his career, scoring 36 goals for the Dallas Stars in the 2008-09 season and putting up four straight seasons with 26 or more goals prior to last year's lockout-shortened season.

    Eriksson has felt the pressure of moving from a non-playoff team like the Dallas Stars to a perennial contender like the Boston Bruins. He has not gotten off to a fast start, but he has shown his talent in recent games.

    Eriksson is an excellent skater with top instincts.When he is in the offensive zone, he knows how to position himself to get tips and rebounds. He can also handle the puck in his skates and then make a positive play.

    Like many Bruins, Eriksson often looks to pass first and shoot second. Julien may need him to change that as the season progresses.

4. C Patrice Bergeron

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    2013-14 stats: 25 games, six goals, five assists, plus-six

    Offensive impact: Patrice Bergeron is the Bruins' best all-around player, and his offensive contributions tend to get downplayed.

    He is not a big-time scorer. He has not scored more than 22 goals since the 2005-06 season, when he had 31. However, he is a very skilled offensive player.

    His ability to dominate in the faceoff circle is key. When he wins a faceoff—which he does 59.8 percent of the time—he gains possession of the puck for the Bruins, and that leads to scoring opportunities.

    He has excellent instincts in the offensive zone. He knows how to hold on to the puck for an extra split-second and draw the defense to him. That gives him a chance to pass to open teammates.

    Bergeron is a skilled shooter, but he seems reluctant to fire away with his wrist shot or snap shot because he would rather set up his teammates. But when his team needs to score, he will take matters into his own hands.

    Bergeron scored the tying goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the seventh game last season and then scored the series-winning goal in overtime. He also scored four goals in the Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks.

    When the Bruins need a goal, Julien will make sure Bergeron is on the ice.

3. D Torey Krug

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    2013-14 stats: 25 games, seven goals, eight assists, plus-five

    Offensive impact: Torey Krug made an impact with the Bruins in last year's playoffs. He jump-started their offense in their conference semifinal victory over the New York Rangers when he scored four goals in the Bruins' five-game triumph.

    Krug has had a stellar rookie season. His offensive aggression has been a big part of what makes the Bruins a dangerous team. His ability to carry the puck on the power play and direct the action from the point has allowed the Bruins to use Zdeno Chara down low.

    He has a hard slap shot that he gets away quickly, and he can also fire a quick snap shot.

    Krug can throw a stretch pass up the ice as well as any player on the Bruins. His athletic skill is a big part of the reason behind his offensive success. He is a master at kicking the puck from his skates to his stick and allowing the play to continue without skipping a beat.

2. LW Milan Lucic

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    2013-14 stats: 25 games, nine goals, nine assists, plus-eight

    Offensive impact: Milan Lucic had a miserable regular season in 2013 with just seven goals, but the light went on for him in the playoffs when he became an offensive dynamo to help the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup Final.

    When Lucic is on, he is one of the best power forwards in the game. The 6'4", 235-pound Lucic imposes his will in the offensive zone when he goes into the corner, bounces opponents and takes the puck from them.

    Lucic is a surprisingly fast and agile skater for such a big man, which allows him to create his own scoring opportunities. He is a force around the net, and he also has a devastating wrist shot.

    Lucic got off to a fast start with the Bruins. He is tied with teammate David Krejci for the team lead in scoring. He must continue to produce at a high level if the Bruins are going to remain at or near the top of the Eastern Conference.

1. C David Krejci

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    2013-14 stats: 25 games, four goals, 14 assists, plus-eight

    Offensive impact: David Krejci is a sophisticated offensive player who has been one of the big keys to the Bruins' playoff success in recent seasons.

    Krejci has not dominated during the regular season. He has never scored more than 23 goals, and his career-high is 73 points.

    However, he was the NHL's leading postseason scorer in 2011 and 2013.

    Krejci has excellent offensive instincts. His typical move is to hold on to the puck for an extra half-second and then take the shot or make the pass that leads to a goal. 

    The best athletes in all sports have the ability slow the game down. Krejci can do this for the Bruins. He is their best offensive player—especially in games where it matters the most.

Missing in Action

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    Brad Marchand was among the Bruins' most important players in their 2011 Stanley Cup run. He scored 21 goals in 2010-11 and 11 more in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    He followed that up with 28 goals in 2011-12, and he scored 18 goals in last year's lockout-shortened season.

    However, Marchand has looked like a lost soul this year. He has just three goals and six assists. He is having a tough time skating and controlling the puck, and he does not look anything like the feisty and dangerous player he was for the previous three seasons.

    Jarome Iginla is working hard and getting off a ton of shots, but few are going into the net. The former Flame has five goals and nine assists, but he has not looked sharp.

    Iginla is coming close. He regularly rings shots off the post or gets robbed by outstanding work by opposing goalies, but he is not scoring the way a first-line right wing should.