Category Archives: Bruins

Bruins showing promise — Still need scoring help

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli

Trade deadline #1 has come and gone with no movement from the Bruins. Another, more well known blogger, said that the past few weeks acted as  a “dress rehearsal” to what will occur once the trade freeze lifts at midnight on the 28th of February — a good deal of posturing and market testing. The sellers didn’t like the offering price, so we’ll have to wait until March for something to go down.

Rumor has it that the Bruins are pushing very hard for the services of Ray Whitey from the Carolina Hurricanes — Carolina is reportedly looking for a roster player and 1st round pick in return.

Sure, the Bruins have won 3 in a row and are starting to find some real chemistry, but they’re still much closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings then they are to the top. That’s not a good place to be in February. The five goal outburst in the first 25 minutes of last night’s game in Tampa surely appears to be an abberation. Still dead last in scoring,  the Bruins have scored 5+ goals just six times (or 10% of their games) this season; compare that to a whopping 16 times (or 37% of their games) at this point last season. Clearly, the Bruins need scoring, and need it badly.

Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli has been very tight lipped with the media all season regarding potential trades/player movement, so I wont begin to openly speculate about whom they might acquire.

That being said, there have certainly been some positive things happening with this club lately — leading me to believe that a quality acquisition could propel the Bruins into at least a 2nd round match-up.

Here a few players that are catching my eye:

Milan Lucic:

At times since Lucic’s return on Jan 7th, he seemed unwilling or unable to take the body. Combine that with his modest offensive skills, and you’ve got a player who isn’t doing much more than taking up space.In the past handful of games he has returned to his body banging ways and even had a bout of fisticuffs with Adam Mair of the Buffalo Sabres. As I’ve been saying all season, Lucic’s physical game opens up tremendous amounts of ice for playmaker Marc Savard. Quite simply, he’s a beast — he’s a game-changer. One of his thunderous hits or ferocious bouts can change the complexion of an entire contest. As much as the Bruins have struggled to score goals, the physical play of Milan Lucic is something the Bruins cannot live without.

Marc Savard

Like Lucic,  Marc Savard’s season has been marred by injury. He appears to be back to full health now with 9 points (all assists — as they should be) in his eight games since returning from a knee injury sustained in that same Jan 7th game against Chicago. Having a healthy and productive Savard on this team seems to have raised the confidence level across all four lines. He is just so calm on the puck. While other Bruins players seem to be squeezing the stick, or feel that the puck is bouncing just out of their reach, the Sultan of the Saucer Pass allows the game, and opposing defenders to come to him — where he picks them both apart.

Tuukka Rask

“Two U’s, Two K’s, Two points.” Seems like I hear Jack Edwards (the Bruins play-by-play announcer) utter this phrase a few times a week now. The young Finnish goaltender has been nothing short of SPECTACULAR this year. Still a rookie, Rask is 3rd in the league in save percentage (.928) and 2nd goals against average (2.09). In a year when reigning Vezina Trophy winner has found himself richer both in salary and goals allowed, Rask has been incredibly solid. In fact, last night’s 5-4 win in Tampa Bay was Rask’s 5th start in a row (3-2, 2.20 g.a.a.).

One more game before the Olympic break. The Bruins will try to make it four in-a-row when they take on the Panthers in Sunrise, FL on Saturday.

Bruins fans — I’ll leave you with a clip I found of the best (or worst) Jack Edwards moments!!

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B’s end skid at ten — one win shouldn’t convince fans

Still struggling to find the net with any regularity this season, the Bruins caught lightning in a bottle on Sunday afternoon at Centre’ Bell en route to a 3-0 victory over Montreal which saw Boston’s longest losing streak in 85 years come to an end.

Two of Boston’s three goals went in off of Montreal sticks, and for the first time in a long time, the Bruins were getting all the breaks. Adam McQuaid scored his first NHL goal, Marco Sturm added two of his own and Tuukka Rask looked like the clear-cut No. 1 goalie.

Yesterday’s win was great, but I hope it doesn’t distract the front office from the glaring defects in this team. First and foremost, goal scoring has been DEPLORABLE. The Bruins have been dead last in the NHL for a good part of the year and the margin only continues to grow. The Bruins have averaged 40+ shots in 3 of the last 4 games and I believe that adding one more piece (a 25 goal guy; Whitney, Ponikarovsky — who WILL be a 25+ goal guy) would translate into AT LEAST one more goal per game. Michael Ryder (13-9=22) has DISAPPEARED this season. I have trouble remembering whether or not he actually played each night.

The penalty kill has been superb this year, but 5 on 5 defense has been lackluster at best. I point to Dennis Wideman. He is simply not good enough to be a no. 2 defenseman; it required too much ice time/responsibility. He needs to go. Now. I could go on and on about the failings of Dennis Wideman, but chances are, you already know about them. God, he’s awful.

The issue that had fans most upset during this losing streak was the egregious increase in ticket prices for this season. Last season, I had a 10 game package and was sitting in the Loge (lower bowl) for an average cost of $66/per seat. This season, I’m in the balcony (sec. 318) for the same price. My old seats are now more than $120 per seat. The Bruins ownership simply jumped the gun here. The only way to for the Bruins to save face re: the ticket increase is if the Bruins can pull off a cinderal

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Bruins lose 8th straight — What now?

Much like the hapless alcoholic who continues to defy the hopes and dreams of friends and family by constantly letting them down despite enormous promise and potential, the Bruins, as presently constituted, appear to be lost — for good.

Marco Sturm embodies the Bruins current state.

Boy, I really thought they were gonna get it done last night after they took an early 1-0 lead and were pummeling the Washington net, drawing penalties and looking inspired. Rather than re-hash the brutal details of last night’s game — where Matt Hunwick looked lost and cost the Bruins at least one goal, and the Bruins once again couldn’t score more than one goal despite 20+ scoring chances, i’ll speak in broader terms about the plight of our (once) beloved Black and Gold.

As I have been saying for some time now, if Boston’s front office still wants to take a run at the playoffs this year, they NEED to make a trade. TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting that Boston is shopping Michael Ryder around, but that’s not likely to bring the Bruins anything valuable in return. Most Bruins fans are of the opinion that Boston needs to pick up Ilya Kovalchuk this season and that anything less would be unacceptable. The Bruins obviously need to make SOME kind of move, but I’m not sure that Boston’s front office is willing to pull the trigger for fear of making the wrong move, when the worst thing they could do would be to stand pat.

I’m not convinced of that at all. First off, it’s been widely rumored that Atlanta wants Tuukka Rask. That right there should be enough to stop any potential deal — it’s not worth giving up the future for a 4 month rental like Kovalchuk. Players I would like Boston to look at are;  Martin St. Louis ( RW 17-43=60), Aaron Ward (D 0-9=9 BUT he’s a beast), Ray Whitney (LW 16-25=41) Mike Modano (C 13-11=24),  or Alex Tanguay (LW 8-21=29)…there’s plenty more I could list. Point being, I would be SHOCKED if Boston grabbed Kovalchuk given what it’s likely to cost.

Next up, a home match-up with the hated Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night. I’d love to see a couple new names dressed in Black and Gold, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen anytime soon.

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Postgame: Will a Bruins goal scorer please stand up?

Before the game, I said that it wasn’t going to be enough for the Bruins to merely compete; they needed to win.

They competed, and in many cases, OUT-competed the Buffalo Sabres in most aspects of the game. Boston was physical, caused turnovers, was pretty responsible defensively and showed tremendous effort. BUT – They can’t score. At all.  31 shots, including a 12 shot third period were not enough.

I was looking for Milan Lucic to bring his physical game – I’ll give him a B minus. He was there, but he looked more concerned with playing the puck (weakness) than doling out some back-alley justice (strength). His goal was great, but Boston can’t rely on their enforcer to fill the net. Of particular concern was the amount of rough stuff by Buffalo after the whistle that went largely unanswered; 3 first period penalties will have that effect on a team.

Marc Savard looked good given his eight game layoff – he flubbed a few passes, and hesitated a few times, but overall looked to have his wits (and more importantly his legs) about him.

Tuukka Rask looked pretty shaky all night – he was fighting the puck and had shoddy rebound control. He was able to pull himself together enough to keep Boston in the game, but is certainly capable of better play.

CLEARLY, the Bruins need a bona fide scorer (hmm, I think I said this last week….). Boston should get rid of Ryder, Wideman, and their own 1st round pick, which is currently 9th overall. This should fetch them something. Landing Kovalchuk, it appears, will cost at least that 9th pick, and someone like Bergeron or Krejci. I’m willing to part with Krejci if it brings Kovalchuk to Boston. It’s time for the front office to show that they care about the team, the town, and the fans. It’s time for a BIG move.

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Bruins v. Sabres — Pregame notes:

OK – the Bruins are facing their toughest character test of the season thus far. Currently in the midst of a 5 game losing streak where they have looked listless, lost and downright bored, Boston absolutely needs a win tonight; it won’t be enough to simply compete.

The return of Marc Savard from a partially torn MCL should provide a spark to the sputtering offense. Savard will most likely center the top line along with Milan Lucic and Miro Satan. The tandem of Lucic and Savard is a key component of the Bruins offense – Lucic uses his physical play to open up ice for Savard’s creativity. Let’s hope we see a physical Milan Lucic early on tonight.

Goaltending is another area which needs a marked improvement. Tuukka Rask will be in goal tonight, giving the struggling Tim Thomas the night off. I’m not sure what’s going on with Timmy, but he’s been out of position A LOT lately.

Tonight’s keys are pretty cliché: Stay out of the box, limit odd-man rushes, and most importantly for Boston, out-physical the Buffalo Sabres. I’ll be back after the game with my reactions.

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S.O.S.

A couple quick thoughts while I’m in the car — Just finished watching the game on my last day in Arizona. Even through the  14″ screen on my laptop, the Bruins showed a total lack of heart and seemed genuinely disinterested in fighting for their playoff lives.

I’m really worried about the future of this team. Yes, I know they’ve had a ton of injuries but that’s no excuse for not showing effort. The Olympic break cannot come soon enough.

Now having lost 4 game in a row, the Bruins must understand the need for a big trade in the next few weeks. Getting Kovalchuk would require sending Rask to ATL and God help Peter Chiarelli if he makes that move. I’d like to revive the Tomas Kaberle sweepstakes to get some help for the awful Dennis Wideman.

The practical fan now knows that this team, if they make the playoffs, will struggle to make it out of the 1st round.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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West Coast Trip: Part 2 – Sharks

The three and a half hours of sleep I received before work this morning were well worth it — Around 1:30 a.m. (on the East coast), big Zdeno Chara bore down San Jose Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and unleashed his 105 M.P.H. cannon from 20 feet out.

Zdeno Chara's shootout goal at HP Pavillion

Chara’s lone goal in the shootout completed a 65+ minute effort for the Black and Gold last night in San Jose and gave the Bruins a 2-1 victory at the HP Pavillion.

From the opening puck drop, Boston was able to match the Sharks intensity as both teams traded scoring chances and engaged each other physically. Noteworthy last night was the performance of Milan Lucic who stood out in the 1st last night with two very strong plays: one, a big hit along the side boards in the defensive zone, and later he did a great job of controlling the puck in the offensive zone up against the boards. He was able to put a good deal of pressure and torque on that injured ankle, which is great news. Even from a few thousand miles away, I could see a desperation, an energy, and a willingness to do anything to win that has been lacking from Boston’s play for the better part of this season. Key injuries to key players have caused Bruin players to rely not on skill, but on sheer determination. When Mark Recchi is your top-line Center, you know it’s gonna be a grind-em-out type of evening. That’s precisely what I saw.

Perhaps Boston’s exemplary effort was rewarded with a little luck; over the past week, I’ve been saying that the Bruins will need opportunistic offense and A+ goaltending. They received both last night. Daniel Paille capitalized on a San Jose turnover when his rebound bounced in off of Shark D-man Dan Boyle in the 1st and Tim Thomas had a very strong game and was as competitive as I’ve seen him all season; even though he was twice aided by the goalpost. Of his 41 saves last night, probably five could be considered difficult, which is a credit to the defensive system installed by Head Coach Claude Julien and his staff. Boston did a good (not great) job of clearing the front of the net and keeping the Sharks shooters to the outside. I will say that Boston did an above average job of clogging up passing lanes on everyone except Joe Thornton who, like Marc Savard, can thread the needle with the best of them.

All in all, last night was the most exciting win for this team since the Winter Classic. I only hope they can sustain that effort and intensity. Boston goes for win number two on this road trip tomorrow afternoon in Los Angeles. I will be able to catch the first two periods on my laptop during my layover in Denver. I’ll post periodically during my week vacation in Arizona. Go Coyotes!

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