Barring a major slump over the season's final 18 games, winger Marco Sturm should not be forced to share in the blame for the Bruins' horrid offense all season.
Lost in all the hoopla over the Matt Cooke non-suspension and the Bruins' overtime loss to Toronto on Tuesday was that Sturm scored his 20th goal of the season that night against the Leafs -- in just 59 games played. He has now reached 20 goals in eight of the last nine seasons, a streak that was only broken by his season-shortening knee injury last winter.
Sturm is right on pace to score close to the 27 goals he scored in each of the two seasons before '08-09. And if he were to get really hot, starting Thursday night in Philadelphia, he could conceivably reach 30 goals for the first time.
In retrospect, it probably wasn't fair to expect Sturm to do more than he has and will end up doing when this season is over. It was hoped that Sturm could reach and/or surpass 30 goals this season in an effort to make up for Phil Kessel's 36 goals from last season. That was the talking point hammered home by general manager Peter Chiarelli at the outset, and the media -- especially me -- bought it hook, line and sinker.
There was probably more hope than empirical evidence behind the expectations that at 31 years old the speedy winger would return from major knee surgery and suddenly score more than he ever did in one campaign. Considering all the line-juggling that's occurred due to injuries and Sturm's own brief injury absence, it's pretty remarkable that he has been as productive as he was in past years. Sturm's career-high is 28 goals and since reaching that total he has never scored fewer than 21 in a full season.
So when assessing the Bruins' scoring woes, Sturm has actually been one of the team's more solid contributors. He has probably given the team all he can and the fact that there were projections he could've done more doesn't mean that his season has been a failure. On the contrary, Sturm's scoring has been a savior when compared to the lower productivity of his peers.
* The Bruins announced that winger Shawn Thornton will host the Third Annual Cuts for a Cause March 31 at Ned Devine's in Boston, 3-5 p.m. Thornton is replacing former Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward as the spokesperson for this event, which features numerous Bruins players getting their heads shaved to support the Boston Bruins Foundation and MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Pediatric Oncology Unit. Admission to the event is $10. Bidding for the right to shave a player's head will begin March 17.