Maple Leafs RW Phil Kessel missed 12 games last year and still scored 36 goals for the Bruins.
One lingering fantasy question has been which Bruins will pick up the points in Kessel’s absence.
Searching for answers, I examined the box scores of the 12 games Kessel missed. The key results:
(1) The Bruins went 9-2-1 without Kessel.
(2) The Bruins scored 34 goals without Kessel.
Here’s who scored those 34 goals:
D Zdeno Chara: 5 (4 PP)
RW Mark Recchi: 4 (3PP)
C Marc Savard: 4 (2 PP)
LW Blake Wheeler: 4 (0 PP)
C David Krejci: 3 (1 PP)
RW Chuck Kobasew: 3 (1 PP)
LW Milan Lucic: 3 (0 PP)
D Dennis Wideman: 2 (2 PP)
RW Michael Ryder: 2 (1 PP)
LW Shawn Thornton: 2 (0 PP)
One goal each: LW P.J. Axelsson (PP) and C Martin St. Pierre.
Before drawing any conclusions, we must point out that Bruins LW Marco Sturm did not play in any of the Kessel-free contests last season — while Savard played in all of them. This season, Sturm is slated to replace Kessel on the Bruins’ top line with Savard and Lucic. Mike Loftus of the Patriot Ledger has a balanced view of Sturm’s prospects. James Murphy of NESN.com examines Ryder’s viability. Joe Haggerty of WEEI.com expects another 25 goals from Ryder, and he also expects Wheeler to chip in.
These viewpoints all make sense. But if you examine the scoring from last year’s games without Kessel, you can make a compelling case for Chara, Savard and Recchi to score more goals.
Breakdown of the Bruins without Kessel:
Six of the 12 games Kessel missed came between January 10-29. In these six games, the Bruins scored 16 goals and went 4-1-1. The leading goal scorers in Kessel’s first absence were Chara (four goals, three on the power play) and Savard (three goals, two PP). Krejci scored twice (one PP). The other seven were scored by seven different players.
The next five games Kessel missed came between March 22 and April 7. The Bruins went 5-0 during this stretch and scored 17 goals. Recchi had three goals (two PP), as did Lucic (zero PP) and Wheeler (zero PP). Kobasew scored two (one PP). The other six were scored by six other players, including Savard and Chara (PP).
The last game Kessel missed came on April 11. The Bruins got mauled in Buffalo, losing 6-1. Recchi had the lone Bruins goal on a PP.
January 13: In a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens, Chara scored twice — both on power plays — and Krejci scored once.
January 15: In a 2-1 victory over the Islanders, Savard tallied one goal and St. Pierre, now on the Senators, scored the other. Both goals came at even strength.
January 17: In a 2-1 loss to the Capitals, Savard scored the lone Bruins goal on a power play.
January 19: In a 5-4 OTL to the Blues, Axelsson and Ryder scored PP goals for the Bruins. Chara and Kobasew scored at even strength.
January 21: In a 4-3 shoutout win at Toronto, Chara and Wideman scored PP goals while Wheeler scored at even strength.
January 27: In a 3-2 win vs. the Capitals, Savard and Krejci scored PP goals. Thornton scored at even strength.
March 28: In a 7-5 win at Toronto, Recchi scored twice, both on the PP. Kobasew, Ryder, Thornton, Krejci and Wheeler scored the other goals.
March 29: In a 4-3 win at Philadelphia, Lucic scored two even-strength goals. Recchi scored at even strength, and Wideman scored on the PP.
March 31: In a 3-1 win vs. Tampa, Wheeler scored at even strength. Chara and Kobasew scored PP goals.
April 2: In a 2-1 win vs. Ottawa, Savard and Lucic scored at even strength.
April 4: In a 1-0 win vs. the Rangers, Wheeler scored the lone goal.
April 11: In a 6-1 loss at Buffalo, Recchi has the lone Bruins goal (PP).