Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Home opener recap.....and a rant

Game one of the home schedule is in the books. And Boston got a single point via a shootout loss. In general, not a bad performance. The B's held the high powered Pens to one goal and had plenty of chances of their own. Phil Kessel was flying and competing well again, picking up another goal. Bergeron had several great chances, so that was good to see. Great. All that "good news", and they were still unable to secure a win. Which leads me to my rant. And let me preface this by saying I'm in no way in a panic or anything. And I think Claude Julien is a great coach. AND, I've been the biggest Lucic supporter you've ever met.......been tracking this kid since he was an unknown 16 year old. That being said, WHAT THE F was THAT last night? Boston finally gets to play in front of the home crowd. A full house, with high expectations. And they come out with what I would call a tentative attitude. I understand you don't want to go running around against a team like Pitt, but COME ON! I expected a much more physical game. ESPECIALLY from Lucic, and, for the first time ever, I was completely disappointed in Milan's game last night. He was taken to task in the Boston Herald yesterday, in an article in which he even admitted he may have come into camp this year a little coccky, comfortable or whatever. He said he knew he had to get back to the style of play that earned him a roster spot last year (and made him a local icon). Instead, he comes out and is largely uninvolved the whole night. When he should have been in front of the net, he was hanging to the side of it, or worse, drifting to beyond the hash marks. Not at all playing like the biggest,baddest guy on the ice. Instead, he looked disinterested in going to the "danger area's" on the ice. I thought for sure that he'd be a wrecking ball last night, and I couldn't have been more wrong. All in all, a pathetic game for Looch (and you have no idea how much it pains me to write that). As hard as that is, I'm convinced that if he shows up with that same "perimiter game" mentality tonight, he needs to watch the next game from the press box. Because although Neely said they're reminding Milan how he needs to play, the kid is clearly not getting that message. Sit him, and make him watch his highlights from last year. He needs a wake up call before these bad habits become impossible to correct.
Bergeron had tons of great chances, which I was thrilled to see. Now, he has to start burying them. There is a real danger that he'll fall into the Marco Sturm rut of getting lots of bids, but not bearing down and burying them. I love the guy, and appreciate everything else he brings to the table, but top six forwards simply HAVE to score when they get the chance. I'm not too worried about Patrice though, I'd rather see him missing on chances, than not get any.
The biggest What The @#$! moment for me was Julien's shoot out line up. AGAIN, he sends out Kessel, Ryder & Savard. Are you kidding me!? Kessel, absolutely....although I like him as the #2 or 3 shooter instead of first (fist is "ok" if you choose to shoot first, because that puts some pressure on the opposition). Savard, I'm not sold on as a shoot out performer. Great passer, with a real good shot. But I've never thought of him as a great one on one, break away type player. And RYDER?? Are you serious? I have no explanation for what Julien could possibly be thinking on throwing him over the boards every time. I believe, Ryder is now 1-11 in SO's. Ryder is a shoot first, shoot second and shot third type player. His quick release serves him well in a game situation. But is nearly useless in a shootout. Is Julien trying to get hom going by giving him shoot out chances? If so, I think he's doing more harm than good. Way to shatter confidence instead of build it (especially throwing him out there last, in MONTREAL of all places). I just don't get it. Why would you not have Bergeron, Kessel and maybe, say ....Krejci? All skill guys, with good stick handling ability and one on one moves. Or how about a kid like Wheeler? Good skills, and nobody has a "book" on him yet. Hell, I'd rather see Sobotka get a shot than Ryder (I honestly think Sobotka would be great at them). What about Sturm? Unreal. More mystifying was Julien's comment after the game, and I quote: “Unfortunately, it was the same ol’, same ol’ in these shootouts. We came out on the short end of it.”
really? You'resurprised you got the same result, by going with the same shooter that is no good at it? isn't the definition of insanity "to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result"? Unless and until Claude mixes it up, we can expect more of the "same ole same ole". And that frankly, isn't good enough.
These one point "moral victories" in October, come back to haunt you in April. Remember these games when the B's are fighting for a playoff spot late in the year.

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