Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bruins Need Spark Plug

I'm sure in countless hockey rinks, football fields, and baseball diamonds across the country, parents tell their children that it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's whether or not you put in the effort and have fun. Play your best, your hardest, but it's okay if you don't win. Because you did your best, your threw it all out there.

For the past three games of this road trip, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien has seemingly practiced this methodology. Unfortunately for Claude and his Bruins, this method need not apply to the National Hockey League. Yes, there was the December to Remember. However, it is now late February, heading closer and closer to the playoffs and nobody remembers December. They remember a 1-3-1 road trip on the back of back-to-back home losses. 1-4-2 in their last seven.

Play hard boys, but it's okay if you don't win.

The 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay certainly wasn't for lack of effort. The Bruins relentlessly peppered Karri Ramo with shot after shot, 43 (paired with 41 aganst Florida) of them in all and were rewarded with three goals for those efforts. However, some untimely turnovers, poor defending and Manny Fernandez-quality goaltending, he gave up the 4 goals on just 18 shots, ouch.

Yes, the Bruins showed passion and intensity along with terrific energy. Shawn Thornton and Mark Stuart were both involved in fisticuffs with a pair of thrilling duels that energized the team. When PhiKessel netted his early goal things looked great, but then Tampa scored two in fifteen seconds and the energy changed. The Bruins fought back from behind twice, but still fell.

Now, 43 shots on goal are fantastic, but how many of those were bonafide chances? Along with the shots, the intensity of play seemed to wane until after Tampa had gone ahead with 1:33 to play.

Where has Boston's complacency come from? Jumping out to a huge lead in the Eastern Conference? Taking bottom of the conference teams like Tampa for granted?

Maybe it's the coach settling for effort and not results.

Patrice Bergeron
still finds himself on the point on the top power play line. He looks timid and uncomfortable along the blue line and rightly so. He's a winger. Put him there already, please. Chara and Ward at the point on the top line did well, they were rewarded with it. Bergeron excelled on the second unit playing along the wall and putting his body in front of the net. Patrice's confidence wasn't raised as highly as Julien may have thought with that erm... empty net goal.

How badly do the B's need a sniper? I brought up the fact that the B's won't be where they need to be unless they find a sniper, and a friend responded; "Our sniper is injured." I laughed. Michael Ryder, as nice a goal scoring option as he is, does not a sniper make. The Bruins need someone who can score 35-40 goals in a season. Kessel is nice, Ryder is nice, having five guys who can net 20+ goals and a dozen who can net 10+ is nice, but you need someone that strikes fear into opposition goalies. Chara can do that, sure, but where's that full time offensive presence? The Sykora, Kovalchuk, Kovalev winger who can score from anywhere inside the zone?

No, the Bruins probably aren't able to get a player of their calibre. Especially with names like Keith Tkachuk and Erik Cole being bandied about. To think I know a couple of people excited about the prospect of Cole being a Bruin, but he's a fraud of a goalscorer. Not nearly the player he was in Carolina and not likely to ever be. Tkachuk? While it'd be nice to see the Massachusetts native play for the B's, he's basically washed up and wouldn't add enough to the team. In the end the fact is that they need a proven out and out scorer. The Bruins have players who can score goals, but they're very, very streaky. Consistency would do wonders for this team.

With the Caps inching ever closer to the B's, they could lose grip on the East's top spot. The Bruins are in a precarious position right now, despite what many may think.

It's already been proven that effort alone isn't enough to do the job.

No comments: