- Ryan S. Clark is an NHL reporter for ESPN.
- Kristen Shilton is a national NHL reporter for ESPN.
While the All-Star Weekend feels like the midpoint of the NHL regular season, in fact all teams will be well past their 41st game at that point. As teams hit that threshold this week, it’s time for our resident graders Ryan S. Clark and Kristen Shilton to serve up their thoughts on all 32 clubs.
Who’s at the head of the class? Who’s in danger of failing? Read on for our appraisals.
Note: Ryan S. Clark graded the Pacific and Central Division teams, while Kristen Shilton graded the Metropolitan and Atlantic Division teams. Preseason over/unders are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook. Records and points paces are through the games of Jan. 10. Teams are sorted alphabetically within each grade.
Points pace: 139.4
Preseason over/under: 97
Class president: Linus Ullmark. Boston has had several high-profile performers (David Pastrnak and Hampus Lindholm among them), but Ullmark has earned top marks in Beantown and beyond. He leads the league in wins (21), save percentage (.939) and goals-against average (1.86), which combined to earn him his first All-Star Game nod. Impressive.
In danger of failing: A.J. Greer. The veteran winger enjoyed a surprisingly strong start to his first season in Boston, but has recently found himself in Jim Montgomery’s doghouse averaging around six minutes per game — when he actually plays. If Greer isn’t the Bruins’ answer in a fourth-line spot, they have younger guys within the organization just waiting to take his place.
Grade: A+. Boston is a top-to-bottom powerhouse, with superb goaltending, a depth of offensive talent and an excellent defense. There are so few holes in the Bruins’ game, and they’ll continue to be a top Stanley Cup favorite if they can stay healthy.
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